What is Digital Signage, Really?
We hear the term digital signage tossed around a lot; however, not everyone knows what it really means. Moreover, much of the information that’s out there is either old or not very useful. That’s why we’re taking this opportunity to clarify what digital signage truly means.
The Navori Labs team has over 20 years of experience in digital signage software development and hardware design. Over the years we’ve seen our share of digital signage challenges. We know what it takes to deliver engaging content on a digital signage monitor.
Our engineers have conceived one of the best digital signage software platforms on the market. It’s why we’ve been involved with some of the most exciting visual projects.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an advertiser or venue owner. In the end, it’s all about delivering a positive, engaging, and inspiring viewer experience. Read on and learn more about digital signage. You’ll discover the technology that runs the show behind the scenes.
What is a digital signage system?
When discussing digital signage, the term typically encompasses various digital screens, monitors, or displays used for displaying content. These signs are commonly found in public, commercial, and corporate environments.
In digital signage systems, networked media player devices play a crucial role in receiving and presenting programmed content from a centralized server. Additionally, the screens are connected to these media players, enabling them to showcase the content to the intended audience. Furthermore, when multiple media player devices are interconnected, a comprehensive digital signage network is established.
Digital signage’s origins
Many people trace digital signage’s origins back to the printed sign. While print is still used in many settings, it’s becoming less and less popular. There are many factors behind the switch from print to digital signage. The obvious reasons would be print production costs and their impact on the environment.
Print vs Digital Signage
Print is essentially a single-use medium. Once a sign has fulfilled its purpose, it gets discarded and replaced. While many types of printed signs can be recycled, it’s still a complicated process before signage stock can be reused.
A printed sign’s life cycle can be summarized like this…
- Handling / Installation
Let’s not forget about all the printed signs that can’t easily be recycled, which end up in landfills. With the public showing more interest in green alternatives, the print industry is shifting production to more environmentally friendly processes.
Although vegetable-based inks and recycled stock have become more prevalent, the complete transition of the industry will still require some time.
- Shipping has a huge environmental impact and greener delivery alternatives are years away.
- Many areas lack the facilities to recycle print material.
- The cost of recycling print material can be very high.
It is worth noting that there are still printed signs made from non-recyclable materials, particularly for exterior signs that are exposed to the elements and UV rays from the sun.
To remain relevant, the print industry must continuously innovate, placing considerable pressure on research and development efforts.
This helps grow the appeal of digital signage exponentially.
Digital signage’s advantages
Digital signage solutions offer all the benefits of old-style printed signs with the advantage of immediacy, updatability and interactivity. Signage screens only needs a power source and a network connection to function.
Over its entire lifespan, a single digital signage display can replace an unlimited number of printed signs. When you start factoring digital signage’s many advantages, you quickly realize how valuable and cost-effective the technology can be.
In terms of logistics, you only need to ship and install the equipment at the designated location. Once a digital screen is put in service, it starts showing content right away. It will continue to do so as long as you require it.
Today’s smart digital signage screens are designed to consume less electricity than ever before. You can also place screens in standby mode which helps reduce their energy consumption even more. Doing so extends the screen’s lifespan as an added bonus.
But digital signage isn’t just about a digital display. It includes many other types of devices.
- Projection systems
- LCD screens
- LED displays, outdoor signs and billboards
- Interactive tablets, displays and kiosks
Digital signage and corporate communications
In the 80s, large corporations primarily used closed-circuit TVs for broadcasting business content to remote offices. However, as affordable and user-friendly video production equipment became available, these companies transitioned to satellite broadcasts, enabling them to disseminate news, training videos, and other valuable information to their remote locations.
Subsequently, with the advent of cost-effective videotape technology, the process underwent further evolution. Small and medium-sized businesses could now produce and distribute content more affordably than ever before. This was followed by the introduction of DVDs and, eventually, the Internet.
Digital signage for corporate communications is the latest iteration of business TV. The same process used to distribute ads and information to the public now informs, trains and motivates employees.
Wonder why? Digital signage networks can replace TV broadcasts at a fraction of the cost and provide many features TV can’t match.
- With digital signage, companies can deliver unique content and programming at each location providing for tailored messaging and instant updates.
- Digital signage lets businesses motivate and inform staff via real-time news and social media feeds. There is no better medium for corporate communications.
Digital signage hardware and software components
Most digital signage solutions have the following components:
- The backend server stores media files and sends instructions to remote media players. It can be a single physical PC or a virtual machine running on a shared hosting service.
- Database stores information and may be located on the backend server or on a separate device depending on the number of players involved.
- The user interface (UI) serves as the software dashboard that people use to interact with the digital signage system. Users can access the UI either as part of locally installed software or via a web browser.
- The digital signage layout design tool is the software application that users access to create layouts for their digital signage screens. This functionality is typically accessed through the user interface in most modern digital signage software.
- Media player software and related devices consist of a software app that is installed on a media player device connected to a digital signage display. The software receives instructions and content to be played from the backend server via a network connection.
- Digital signage displays are the audience-facing technology that showcases the programming of the media player.
Types of digital signage solutions
Digital signage is typically offered in cloud-based or on-premise versions.
Cloud-based (SaaS) digital signage software
On the other hand, cloud-based (SaaS) digital signage software involves the vendor hosting the digital signage server. They provide a subscription-based service, charging customers a monthly fee for each deployed media player. This service includes a user interface and allows for remote content updates on every screen. It’s called cloud-based digital signage, SaaS, or software-as-a-service.
Cloud-based digital signage features a web user interface. It makes it easy for users to access the system from any location. It’s great for companies who don’t want to tie up a lot of capital to purchase software licenses.
It’s the quickest way to get into digital signage. There’s no need for your own IT resources, and you can scale up as your business expands.
On-premise digital signage software
An on-premise digital signage software is ideal for those who need total control over their data. You purchase a permanent software license for the backend server and individual licenses for each media player you deploy. There is no monthly fee for the use which some companies prefer.
Instead, most on-premise software licensees pay an annual support and maintenance fee. These fees cover the costs of software updates and technical support.
Who uses on-premise digital signage software?
- Financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, use on-premise digital signage software to ensure their customers’ privacy and to fulfill their obligation of protecting their data.
- Large multinational corporations have sufficient IT resources to deploy and manage their own network.
- Digital signage network operators who act as hosting providers for their own clients.
- Companies who want to integrate their own internal processes using APIs.
- Any business that wishes to retain full control of its user’s data.
What do people use digital signage software for?
In a nutshell… Communication, promotion, and advertising. Digital signage is a communication medium that sits between printed signage and live TV.
Outdoor advertising, or digital out-of-home (DooH) is a growing segment that includes many types of digital signage.
- Large format LED billboards by the side of the road.
- Outdoors LED boards mounted on the side of a building.
- LED signs mounted on pylons near retail stores, gas stations, or restaurants.
Retail signs and restaurant menu boards
- End-of-aisle signage for in-store promotions.
- Service desk and check-out signage.
- Car pick-up parking lot signage.
- Digital menu boards that are mounted behind food ordering stations.
- Restaurant drive-through digital menu board
What to look for in a digital signage software?
Perhaps you’ve been reading this article and wondering what makes a good digital signage software. Maybe you’re comparing digital signage solutions and wish to make a better educated choice.
Here are some points to consider before making your selection.
Digital signage server software
- Pick the solution that closely matches your needs.
- Cloud-based for simplicity and lower initial investment costs.
- On-premise for complete server and data control.
- Consider solutions that let you perform your own custom programming using SDKs.
- Think of your future needs. Look for a backend server that scales easily.
Media player software
Digital signage deployments often utilize multiple types of displays and devices. Furthermore, popular media player software apps like QL Player have the ability to operate on a range of devices, including:
- Microsoft Windows PCs
- Navori QL StiX 3700 media players
- Android media players
- BrightSign media players
- Commercial-grade Smart TV models that use system-on-chip designs
Rely on a single software player to drive your programming across any hardware platform.
Moreover, advanced media player software like Navori Lab’s QL Player utilizes video game technologies. This special software is created to improve how content is shown, guaranteeing an outstanding viewing experience.
Anyone deploying a video wall or digital menu board should look for player software that supports modern video graphics cards. Look for 64-bit software that can render content at extreme resolutions, like QL Player IPR.
Combining powerful digital signage with large LED displays lets you captivate bigger audiences. Install LED displays on the side of a building or cover an entire ceiling to create more memorable experiences.
Digital signage goes beyond passive engagement, offering interactive possibilities through touchscreens and interactive tablets. These devices can be utilized in diverse and engaging ways:
- Interactive meeting room displays that let you make a reservation on the fly.
- Information kiosks and e-commerce terminals that let people search for, or order products not available in-store.
- Wayfinding displays let visitors search for a location in a shopping mall or on a trade show floor.
QL When exploring interactive applications, it is essential to ensure that your media player software is compatible with touch-enabled screens and tablets. QL Player seamlessly supports all interactive content and can effortlessly trigger interactive websites and e-commerce apps as required.
Content Management Software
Together with your backend server and media players, the content management software functions smoothly. Moreover, the CMS acts as a comprehensive tool for developing programs, managing user access, and overseeing the administration of your media player network.
When evaluating a CMS, keep the following points in mind:
- Opt for software with an intuitive interface, facilitating quick onboarding and enhanced productivity with minimal training.
- Steer clear of locally installed software and instead seek web-based solutions, eliminating the need for installation and reducing support costs.
- Consider software with a mobile-friendly user interface to enable remote staff members to utilize the system while away from their desks. This flexibility benefits salespeople who require instant access to product specifications on the sales floor or plant managers who wish to display training videos in a meeting room.
Why Navori Labs?
Navori Labs is totally focused on digital signage software development. We’re a global software provider to companies large and small. Our QL digital signage software powers some of the most exciting visual installations, making us an authority in the field.
QL’s web-based content manager provides access to all the software’s features from any web browser. Moreover, users can effortlessly manage any content, create playlists, and establish complex schedules in minutes. Additionally, the built-in template designer empowers QL users to create sophisticated content without needing to leave the application.
Furthermore, users can conveniently access the QL Content Manager UI from any smartphone or tablet, enabling remote access to a curated set of features specifically designed for optimal remote work. Additionally, authorized staff members can easily swap out any content, edit data feeds, and trigger content instantly from any location.