How Does Content Synchronization Work?
Contemplating a new multi-screen digital signage installation? Looking to impress your audience? Make sure your CMS software supports content synchronization.
When dealing with multiple screens, consider how your content will be viewed. Video walls and multi-screen digital signage installations can be a big investment. To show your content in the best possible way, you need a flexible and adaptable digital signage solution that supports content synchronization.
What is content synchronization?
Let’s say you have multiple digital signage screens in a common area and each one is connected to its own media player device. If you send the same program to every player, the content will eventually end up out of sync. This happens because each device’s internal clock operates at a slightly different speed. Since each device runs independently there is no way to synchronize their content.
Over time, the problem gets worse as the time difference increases. At some point, you will see random content playing on each individual screen. This takes away from the experience, but it can be avoided.
You need software that lets media player devices communicate with the backend server so they can synchronize their clocks. When players are synchronized, people will see exactly the same content across all your screens.
Who is it for?
- People who want to display content that spans multiple screens in a video wall, or on digital menu boards in restaurants.
- People who publish the same content and programming across many screens in a large open space. For example, a convention hall, sports arena, or similar type of venue.
Content synchronization makes your content more appealing and enriches the viewing experience.
Multi-screen synchronization techniques
Video walls and multi-screen installations rely on different setups to display their content:
- A single media player with multiple video outputs. Typically, a PC or Android device featuring a powerful video card that can support discrete connections to multiple screens. In this scenario, the content can span all the screens or individual content can be assigned to specific screens.
- A single media player connected to daisy-chained screens. The screens are connected in series so there is only one video output required. In this configuration, the interconnected screens create a shared virtual canvas on which you can display your content. You can also duplicate the image from the first screen on the others.
- A single media player connected to a video splitter. The splitter receives its video signal from a media player, then duplicates and sends the signal to each screen. In this configuration, you can only show the same content on each screen. It’s not possible to extend content across many screens or show different content on each screen.
- A dedicated media player for each screen. Each screen receives a discrete video signal from a single device. Screens can show different programming or synchronized content if the digital signage software supports the feature.
Digital signage video walls
Video wall solutions let you make an impression. You can blow up your content across multiple screens and attract the audience’s attention from a distance. This is especially useful in large venues.
Video walls are becoming quite popular as screens and mounting hardware have become more affordable. When installed in office lobbies and retail stores, video walls can help enhance a brand, promote luxury items, and impress visitors.
Multi-screen video walls offer a visually interesting canvas on which you display content. To achieve maximum impact, digital signage screens can be organized in a grid or geometric pattern.
- A linear or circular arrangement of screens mounted on a wall.
- Staggered digital signage screens in a stairway or a hallway.
- Groups of screens mounted on a ceiling or other vertical surface.
Distributing content across multiple screens requires professional video wall software.
Multi-screen QSR digital signage
Quick-service restaurants will often install digital menu boards behind ordering counters to inform guests and promote limited-time offers. Weather-proof LED displays at the drive-through also make the ordering process faster and more efficient. Being able to synchronize content between indoor and outdoor screens can be quite useful.
Current QSR technology lets restaurants publish point-of-sale data on each digital menu board in real time. The digital signage CMS retrieves and formats the restaurant’s POS data before it’s displayed on one or more screens. Since the information shown is constantly updated, there are fewer customer complaints and the guest experience is improved.
In most QSR installations, a single media player device drives multiple screens. This is the most versatile option because content can be easily formatted based on the restaurant’s needs.
- Content can span all the screens (video, images) for maximum impact.
- Different content can be shown on one or more screens (templates/content zones). Content played in each zone is perfectly synchronized for a superior viewing experience.
Digital signage for public transportation
Venues such as busy subway stations or train stations often deal with large crowds. These locations benefit from video walls and multi-screen digital signage installations by keeping commuters informed as they travel. Synchronized content plays across multiple digital screens and ensures a better experience for commuters. People see the same information on every screen within their visual range which is perfect for this application.
Synchronized content can also be triggered and played using touch screens. You can also use external devices, like physical buttons or keyboards to call up information on demand. This method can be used to display wayfinding content or transit status information.
Is your digital signage software up to the task?
Content synchronization is essential to the success of any multi-screen digital signage project. When selecting a digital signage solution, it pays to ask questions because not all software is created equal. Here are some features you should look for.
Player clock synchronization
Navori Labs’ QL digital signage software uses a time-stamped streamer to synchronize each device’s clock with the backend server. This method ensures every media player plays perfectly synchronized content.
If your digital signage software doesn’t support this feature, your content may not synchronize across multiple media players.
Enhanced screen layout management
When comparing digital signage software, ask how easy it is to switch between zoned content layouts and full-screen content. The answer may surprise you.
Some software products lock users into static layouts making it difficult to switch between a layout or full-screen content. When this happens, you need to use workarounds and the results don’t always look good.
Navori Labs’ QL software lets you drag and drop any template into any playlist. Play a mix of full-screen content (images, videos) with any template layout. Templates are handled like any other type of content so it’s easy to organize your playlists. When you’re done, you just publish the changes to your players.
QL treats multi-screen installations as a single canvas and there are no limits to the number of zones you can define. You can even stretch zones across multiple screens for creative effect. It’s easy to achieve great results when there are no limits.
A flexible and adaptable template designer
Navori Labs’ QL template designer lets users create content zones that they can position in any location on any screen. Users can display unique content on each screen or create template zones that extend across multiple screens for greater effect.
Multi-zoned templates and content that span every screen can be mixed together in a playlist to attract and retain the audience’s attention. Switching from full-screen to zoned layouts is instantaneous. There are no interruptions or black frames between content that could disrupt the viewing experience.
About Navori Labs
Navori Labs’ QL digital signage software includes features that automate the ad programming process. Ad buyers can create their own advertising playlists that merge ads with regular screen programming. Users select target impressions and the number of ads to play in sequence. The software automatically inserts the ads to meet the required number of impressions based on proprietary algorithms.
An available API lets developers interface QL with third-party software solutions to automate ad bookings and reporting. The company’s AQUAJI marketing analytics software uses computer vision and artificial intelligence to feed programmatic DOOH systems. AQUAJI ensures every ad is shown to the right audience and records each interaction for high-quality reports.