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Buyer's Guide

by Andrew Friedenthal,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 24, 2017

When was the last time you saw any positive and measurable ROI from your signage? Have you written off signage altogether? Perhaps it’s time to invest in a digital signage strategy that engages more customers.

Reports indicate that digital signage captures the attention of 63 percent of passersby. That’s a lot of foot traffic being exposed to your weekly sale, daily special, new products, or other messages you want to advertise. But how do you manage what’s on the screen?

Enter digital signage software. There are many digital signage systems to choose from, with each platform offering different features. We’ve created this buyer’s guide to help you better understand the options so you can easily start displaying your advertisements and attracting new customers. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Digital Signage Software?
Benefits of Digital Signage Systems
Key Questions to Ask When Selecting Digital Signage Software
Pricing: Web-Based vs. On-Premise

What Is Digital Signage Software? 

Digital signage solutions manage static and interactive digital displays. These systems help you create, store, schedule, monitor, and display custom advertisements on TVs, projectors, and other digital displays.

While many vendors package digital signage applications into convenient all-in-one systems, a complete digital signage system includes three very distinct components. These include:

  • Content management
  • Digital signage player
  • Digital screen

Below, we explain each of these components in more detail.

Content management A content management system (CMS) is the foundation of a digital signage system. Digital signage solutions offer a CMS that enables users to upload original images and video or modify software-provided templates.
Digital signage player This connects to your TV/screen and houses your actual content to be displayed. It’s typically the size of a thumb drive, similar to Google Chromecast or an Amazon Fire Stick. The content for the player can either be stored in the cloud, on the player’s hard drive, or via a network server.
Digital screen This is simply the interface through which your digital content is displayed. Flat screen televisions are the most popular option, but custom screens are also available. Something to consider is whether you want an interactive display with touch screen functionality.

Below are some examples of how businesses are leveraging digital signage to entice and engage passersby:

Examples of digital signage software in action
Innovative examples of digital signage software via Rise Vision

Benefits of Digital Signage Systems

Regardless of your type of business, digital signage can increase engagement, particularly if it’s interactive.

Digital signage systems offer an array of advantages over non-digital signage. Among these options, cloud-based digital signage solutions offer many advantages over desktop signage systems. The top differentiating benefits include:

Flexibility Digital signage systems enable you to change your displayed content as desired. Non-digital signage systems typically convey one message permanently (i.e. cardboard signs, posters, flyers). Not only do digital sign systems enable repeated customization, but cloud-based systems let users monitor and make customizations remotely. Computer-driven digital signage systems require that changes be made on the connected computer.
Size Digital signage systems are conveniently sized, and are often no bigger than a thumb drive. Even the larger ones typically max out at 6x3 inches.
ROI and lifetime value Since they provide the ability to continually update relevant new content, digital signage systems provide a higher ROI than non-digital or computer-driven signage.

Key Questions to Ask When Selecting Digital Signage Software

When selecting the best digital signage system for you, there are certain factors to keep in mind. It’s important to work out some sort of digital signage plan before selecting your system. These questions can help guide your way when choosing the right digital signage system:

What type of content do you want to display? Knowing what you want to display will help you determine the must-have capabilities for your new digital signage software. It’s also important to decide whether you want to display video on your signage screens. If so, you’ll want to make sure your system supports video.

Do you need a touchscreen display? Whether you want a touchscreen will affect all three components of a digital signage system. If you do, you’ll need your CMS and player to support interactive content, as well as a touch-enabled screen.

Should you opt for a cloud-based system? While there are still a number of great computer/desktop-only systems, cloud-based options are becoming increasingly popular due to the ability to update signage remotely.

Is a digital signage player included? Many providers package their systems with all the needed components. If you opt for an option that doesn’t include a digital signage player, choosing a player and installing your digital signage software can be a time-consuming and technically difficult process.

Pricing: Web-Based vs. On-Premise

A key consideration when evaluating digital signage software is what deployment model is right for your organization. Systems using a cloud-based deployment model deliver “Software-as-a-Service” (SaaS), which is also known as “web-based software.” This means that the system is hosted remotely, on the vendor’s or service provider’s own servers. It is then accessed by users through any device that is both compatible with the system and has an internet connection. This means that users can use the software anytime, in any location.

An on-premise deployment, on the other hand, means that the the software is hosted on the user’s own servers. All data and applications are housed and run locally, and users may or may not be able to access the system remotely (depending on whether or not the system is compatible with mobile devices and remote computers).

Larget companies typically have the manpower and IT resources to host an on-premise solution. For smaller companies, however, this can be an expensive and unrealistic option. Such companies may therefore want to consider a web-based solution, as these sytems are typically less expensive up front and can be up and running more quickly than an on-premise solution. One trade-off, however, is that web-based solutions may not offer functionality that is as robust, and any customization or integrations will require working with the vendor or a third party, which can itself be costly.

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