Digital signage can be defined as any form of electronic display that is centrally managed and communicates targeted information, entertainment, merchandising and/or advertisement. Anytime you see a screen in public displaying some type of message, image or video, you are looking at a digital sign. Digital signage; however, should not be confused with television, broadcasting or a PC running a PowerPoint Presentation in a loop. The systems are typically composed of one or several displays, one or more media players, and a content management/content delivery system. Over the past decade, there have been major advances in digital display resolution and drastic cost reductions. Replacing heavyweight, cumbersome and power-hungry CRT screens, are new ultra-flat LED, LCD and plasma panels that come in many different sizes and resolutions and can be used in many different scenarios.
One huge advantage of digital signs is their flexibility. You can control what is displayed, when it is displayed and how it is displayed . Digital signs can function as direct sales pieces or can be used to increase business efficiency with customers. Your “electronic salesperson” may direct customers where to find specific items and/or physically show them other products that might interest them. A bar or restaurant may utilize digital signage technology to upsell or feature specials. For example, the sports bar offers specials every time the home team scores. Examples of efficiency utilization include traveler information at airports, pedestrian guidance in large buildings, and cafeteria menus. And, let us not forget the iconic time/temperature signs we see on so many bank buildings. Education is also often a goal. Consider those “healthy videos” often shown in doctors’ offices. Depending on the venue, some of those videos also function as sales tools. The display showing the results of teeth whitening in the dentist’s office probably sells quite a few whitening procedures. The marketing strategy for each business will differ, depending on your goals. The goals of the campaign should be clearly specified before going into this medium. If your goal is to attract new customers, remember that selling to a new customer is considerably more expensive and takes longer than selling to an established customer. Offering content about your services, your business, and even about your employees is a good way to build a relationship with a new customer. To entice repeat customers, remember to keep the display fresh. Display new content regularly. The advent of affordable, interconnected, high-definition flat digital displays has enabled advertisers and other content providers to replace static screens with timely, targeted content. Content programming may either follow a pre-arranged linear playlist, with specific time slots for different content elements, or a dynamic playlist that evolves according to different criteria, including user. Some content can even be programmed to change according to environmental sensors.
The global advertising landscape has evolved dramatically over the past decade. While traditional print advertising has declined substantially, market share and interest in interactive advertisement on the Internet, mobile and other innovative media has skyrocketed. As a result of falling hardware costs, large-scale public display networks are becoming common in many settings. Many argue; however, that the full potential of digital signage as an innovative, interactive medium still remains untapped. Watch out for biometric recognition and gaze tracking in the near future.