Digital Signage

Digital signage is a form of electronic display that shows information, advertising and other messages. Digital signs (such as LCD, LED, plasma displays, or projected images) can be found in public and private environments, such as retail stores and corporate buildings. Advertising using digital signage is a form of out-of-home advertising in which content and messages are displayed on digital signs with a common goal of delivering targeted messages to specific locations at specific times. This is often called "digital out of home" or abbreviated as DOOH. The benefits of digital signage over static signs, in situations where changing signs are preferred over static signs, are that the content can be exchanged more easily, animations can be shown, and the signs can adapt to the context and audience, even interactively. Digital signage can offer superior return on investment compared to temporary and/or promotional signs made from other substrates.

While the term "digital signage" has taken hold throughout most of the world, some companies and organizations prefer to use the terms "narrowcasting", "screen media", "place-based media", "digital merchandising", "digital media networks", "digital out-of-home" or "captive audience networks". China currently leads the world in the number of digital signage displays deployed, alone operating more than 120,000 screens. Total revenue from the digital signage equipment market in the United States – including hardware, software, installation, and maintenance—is expected to grow by about 33% in 2009. Digital signage is used for many different purposes and there is no definitive list. However, below are some of the most common applications of digital signage:

  1. Public information – news, weather and local (location specific) information, such as fire exits and traveler information
  2. Internal information - corporate messages, health & safety, news, etc.
  3. Advertising – either related to the location the signage is in or just using the audience reach of the screens for general advertising
  4. Brand building – in-store digital signage to promote the brand and build a brand identity
  5. Influencing customer behavior – directing customers to different areas, increasing the dwell time on the store premises
  6. Enhancing customer experience – applications include the reduction of perceived wait time in restaurant waiting areas, bank queues, etc., as well as recipe demonstrations in food stores
  7. Enhancing the environment – with interactive screens (in the floor for example) or with dynamic wayfinding

Digital signage relies on a variety of hardware to deliver the content. The components of a typical digital signage installation include one or more display screens, one or more media players, and a content management server. Sometimes two or more of these components are present in a single device but typically there is a display screen, a media player, and a content management server that is connected to the media player over a network. One content management server may support multiple media players and one media player may support multiple screens. Stand-alone digital signage devices combine all three functions in one device and no network connection is needed.

Content is played to the displays of a digital signage network from at least one media player. Various hardware and software options exist, providing a range of different ways to schedule and playback content. These range from simple, non-networked portable media players that can output basic JPG slide shows or loops of MPEG-2 video to complex networks consisting of multiple players and servers that offer control over enterprise-wide or campus-wide displays at many venues from a single location. The former are ideal for small groups of displays that can be updated via USB flash drive, SD card or CD-ROM, Another option is the use of D.A.N (digital advertising network) players that connect directly to the monitor and to the internet.This allows the enduser the ability to manage multiple D.A.N players from any location. The enduser can create new advertising or edit existing advertisments then upload changes to the D.A.N via the internet.

Whenever the display, media player and content server are located apart there is a need for audio-video wiring between the display and the media player and between the media player and the content server. The connection from media player to display is normally a VGA, DVI, HDMI or Component video connection. Sometimes this signal is distributed over Cat 5 cables using transmitter and receiver baluns allowing for greater distances between display and player and simplified wiring. The connection from media player to content server is usually a wired Ethernet connection although some installations use wireless Wifi networking. To manage a network, a management server is usually required. This can be located anywhere, so long as it is connected to the digital signage network. New content will be managed and organized here, while the actual content itself is stored and played on the player servers. Digital signage networks can either be closed or open to the web, which will affect how the content on the screens is updated. For closed networks (without Internet access), updates need to be done locally through USB sticks, DVD drives or other 'onsite' updates. Open networks (with Internet access) can be updated remotely and stream data from other Internet sources (such as RSS feeds). The availability and type of Internet access (wireless, broadband, etc.) depends on the location and client. Technologies such as IPTV allow digital signage to be used as a method of broadcasting. The content is played according to instructions provided by play lists controlled by the digital signage system content management server. Convergence between digital signage and broadcasting allows for real-time distribution of broadcast sources (TV) on a narrowcast network (digital signage).

Article derived from Wikipedia

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