The B&H Buying Guide to Digital Signage
Whether you own a pub, run a doctor’s office, or manage a clothing store, reaching your target audience quickly and effectively is a fundamental necessity. Digital signage allows you to broadcast your message in a way that’s easy for customers to absorb using the everyday technology to which they are already accustomed. As a business owner, providing your customers with a visual presentation is both engaging and time saving. If you’re a restaurant owner, why print individual menus and distribute pieces of paper when you can showcase your entire menu on a large screen or across multiple screens simultaneously, reaching multiple patrons at once? If you’re a mall administrator and you want your visitors to navigate your shopping center easily, digital signage can serve as an interactive way-finding tool, pointing customers in the direction they need to go. While advertising is another business cornerstone, digital signage isn’t just about a sales pitch, it can also be informative.
In this overview, we are going to discuss some of the things you need to get your digital signage network up and running. Some essentials are a commercial monitor to display your custom messaging, software to manage your content, a media player to deliver your content, and perhaps the most important piece, the content itself that you want communicated to the public. There are a number of other accessories you can purchase to further aid in your installation and presentation, but the four components mentioned will serve as your digital signage foundation.
While typical consumer TVs prioritize features such as pixel counts, refresh rates, and panel technology, commercial monitors are engineered for reliability, simple deployment, and durability. In fact, many consumer televisions are not equipped to deal with the rigors of demanding environments such as bars, hotels, and financial institutions. In all fairness, consumer TVs are usually the first to introduce the latest and greatest features, so if you’re looking for that “wow” factor, consumer TVs are still the way to go. Back to digital signage, many commercial display manufacturers offer an hours-per-day or MTBF (mean time between failures) estimation to give customers an idea about whether a particular monitor is right for their intended application. If you run a 24/7 business, you want to make sure you choose a monitor that can meet that demand without harming the display.
Some commercial monitors also offer enhanced usability features that allow them to acclimate to a variety of settings, such as high brightness ratings for use outdoors and where lighting conditions can’t be controlled, landscape and portrait viewing orientation options, and daisy-chaining capabilities when linking multiple monitors together. You can also choose monitors that serve as stand-alone kiosks, or perhaps even a touchscreen display that allows consumers to interact with your content using a stylus or their fingertips. Touchscreen commercial monitors make great additions to educational, corporate, and shopping environments.
Digital Signage Software
Aside from making your content presentable to the masses, digital signage software can also be a powerful scheduling tool. Some software applications allow you to personalize your displayed content according to the time of day. For example, if your content is a menu board, you can configure the software to switch automatically to a lunch menu in the afternoon or a dinner menu in the evening. You may also have the option of showing various types of content in designated zones on your monitor. If you choose to show a live video feed, you can overlay that video feed with a scrolling ticker at the bottom of the screen. For large digital-signage networks, some software solutions work in conjunction with your media player to show various content types across multiple screens or the same video on an expansive video wall. Digital signage software is also available in many varieties; some commercial monitors, typically hospitality TVs, offer built-in solutions, some media players include content software, and if you require even more control and setup flexibility, you can take an à la carte software approach with dedicated, separately sold applications.
Media players come in many shapes and sizes. Whether built into your monitor or as an external unit, these devices act as the intermediary between your software/content and your commercial monitor. External media players offer interface connections such as DVI, HDMI, USB, and VGA outputs and some even offer the convenience of directly mounting on the back of your commercial monitor. An advantage of this mounting option is maintaining a neat and streamlined appearance; you don’t want your great digital messaging to be undercut by unsightly cables, especially if you have the option of hiding them. Another feature common to media players is Internet connectivity. Before you start adding movies to your Netflix queue, keep in mind that this connectivity serves an arguably more important, vital business role. It allows you to control your connected monitor(s) from remote locations in real time. While this feature won’t have you reaching for your popcorn, this level of convenience is a must-have when managing multiple networks where you can’t always be present to make programming changes.
Digital Signage Content
While the type of content you choose to display is ultimately up to you and the needs of your business, you can rest assured that digital signage is flexible and adaptable. Whether your hair salon needs one monitor to show live TV and styling options, or if you operate a financial institution and need a multi-display system that can serve double duty handling your surveillance needs and showing current stock information, you can choose to customize your content in a way that best suits your needs, and one that’s relevant to your clientele. Furthermore, customized content allows you to put a personalized touch on your sophisticated network and affords easy changes when needed.
Which System is Right for You?
By now we hope that we have helped you understand what digital signage is, what components are needed to set up your digital signage network, and how the hardware and software work together to effect a positive impact on consumer experiences. We understand that there are lots of options out there, so here at B&H were offer a variety of bundles that are tailored to accommodate a variety of professional settings. These out-of-box solutions contain hand-picked components that are geared to get your network operational with little effort. If you’re business requires a more elaborate approach however, we can help you choose which monitors, digital signage players, and software are best for your content delivery.