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What is Digital Signage?


Digital signage is a form of out-of-home advertising which content and messages displayed on an electronic screen, or digital sign, can be changed without modification to the physical sign, typically with the goal of delivering targeted messages to specific locations at specific times. Digital signage offers superior return on investment compared to traditional printed signs. Digital signs may be scrolling message boards, LCD or plasma display panels, electronic billboards, projection screens, or other emerging display types like living surfaces or Organic LED screens that can be controlled electronically using a computer or other devices, allowing individuals or groups to remotely change and control their content (usually via the Internet).

Applications

The content displayed on digital signage screens can range from simple text and still images to full-motion video, with or without audio. Some operators of digital signage networks, particularly in the retail industry, regard their networks as comparable to television channels, displaying entertaining and informational content interspersed with advertisements.

Digital signage is used for many different purposes:

Information – examples include flight information in airports and wait-times for the next train

Advertising Related to the Location to Uplift Sales – examples include in-store promotions in a retail establishment

Advertising by Third Parties – "Digital Advertising Companies" that sell advertising space to local merchants/service providers, media resellers and national advertisers.

Enhanced Customer Experience – examples include digital signage in restaurant waiting areas to reduce perceived wait-time and recipe demonstrations in food stores

Influencing Customer Behavior – examples include post office digital signage that directs patrons waiting in line to automated stamp machines and retail digital signage designed to direct customers to different areas of the store, increasing the time spent on the store premises (dwell time)

Brand Building – examples include Niketown stores where digital signage in video form is used as a part of the store décor to build a story around the brand

Follow through campaign information to store manager - examples within chain establishment

Environment enhancing - such as using digital signage to increase the customer experience with the building itself, examples of this are where digital signage panels are used on the floor and react to how and when an individual moves over them.


Technology

Content scheduling and playback can be controlled by a number of technologies ranging from simple, non-networked media players that can output basic loops of MPEG-2 video to complex, N-tier player networks that offer control over many displays in many venues from a single location. The former is ideal for small groups of displays that can be updated via sneaker net (the practice of physically transporting data to each location on a disc or CD-Rom, usually by walking), while the latter allows Digital Signage Network Operators to either push content to many players at once or have each player pull content from a server as needed.

Rapidly-dropping prices for large plasma and LCD screens and wide availability of Internet connectivity have caused digital signage deployments to gain in popularity, and displays can now be found in such diverse locations as retail outlets, transit hubs (like airports or bus stations), doctor's offices, fast food restaurants and even gas stations.

The recent introduction of free digital signage software will further expand the "pool" of potential users of this technology. It will now be attractive to smaller businesses (that may have otherwise found this technology too expensive), as well as to "non-profits" such as schools, universities and churches.