Digital signage is an electronic display which showcases ads, videos, or other information in a dynamic way. Companies leverage digital signage for everything from marketing products in a retail store to sharing productivity metrics with employees.
Digital signage is more than just a pretty picture. When done well, it can impact important business metrics. One study showed an increase of 26% in advertised product dollar sales.
Displays offer flexibility over standard signs. Not only can the content be easily updated, businesses can also feature more eye-catching information.
There are two basic components to digital signage. The first is the display. This is the visual medium that shares your message. A display could be LED, LCD, curved, straight, or grouped together for a video wall.
The second piece to digital signage is the player. The player manages the information shown on the screen. There are a variety of digital signage players which offer different functionality and interface.
Choosing The Right Platform
When considering digital signage, there are four basic displays configurations to choose from.
There are also interactive displays, which you can learn more about here.
Single displays can be mounted to a wall, hang from the ceiling, or rest on a stand. If you use a commercial display (which we highly recommend) you can choose between landscape and portrait orientation. Single displays range in size, typically topping out around 84″ to 96”.
A video wall is a group of displays placed together which create a single image for viewing. These life-size walls can be awe-inspiring and attention-grabbing.
Video walls, a display wall with two or more monitors mounted together, provide a large viewing area that’s unachievable with a single LCD display. Video walls are described by the number of panels they feature, for example a 3×6, or 10×10. An LCD video will have thin bezels around each display, while new Direct View LED technology offers a bezel-free experience.
Mosaic displays take an artistic approach to the video wall concept. Rather than placing displays in a square or rectangular patter, mosaics can be configured in a variety of ways with various sized displays at different angles.
Curved displays can curve inward or outward, wrapping around pillars or complimenting architectural design.
Consumer vs. Commercial Displays
There are two basic types of displays: commercial and consumer. We highly recommend investing in a commercial display for your digital signage. Why? Commercial displays are designed for business environments.
A commercial display will typically give you a 2 or 3 year warranty depending on the manufacturer. Moreover, commercial displays are designed for 16/7 or even 24/7 use. Consumer displays simply are not made for this type of consistent pressure.
In addition to functionality, commercial displays are brighter than their consumer counterparts. If your display is in a bright store or near windows, passerby will be able to see the images you’re showcasing.
Professional displays also protect against image retention. If you’re keeping a static image on the display or have a logo in one place often, it may get ‘burned in’ to a consumer display. Commercial displays protect against this type of retention.
From a more technical perspective, commercial displays have expanded input panels like VGA, DVI, Display Port and HDMI. They can also include video loop out. This provides more flexibility in the types of content you can show. The displays also provide IR or front panel lock outs to keep your monitor safe from pranksters hacking in and displaying their own message.
While commercial displays do come at a premium, they play a significant role in the overall digital signage experience. While a consumer display may look attractive initially, investing in a technology that’s designed for continuous use can save money and frustration in the long run.
LED and LCD
You’ve chosen to go with a commercial display. The next step is deciding on an LCD or Direct View LED display. Both are reliable, bright and clear. However, the technology behind the platform is very different.
LCD, which stands for liquid crystal display, is an option for indoor and outdoor signage. An LCD screen is made of a series of layers with lighting on the base layer. Next is the LCD sheet, a liquid housed between two plates. It’s protected by a final glass layer and, if used outside, a protective coating.
NOTE: Consumer LCD displays can be lit by LEDs and are marketed as LED TVs. We’ll talk more about this later, but this is different than a Direct View LED display.
LCD displays come in full-HD (1080p) or Ultra-HD (4K) resolution. 4K resolution has four times the pixels as 1080p. For close viewing, LCD screens can be a more economical option than Direct View LEDs while featuring a great image.
Direct View LED
A Direct View LED display uses LEDs as the individual pixel. They’re available with varying pixel pitch, the distance from the center of one pixel cluster to the center of the next pixel cluster.
Low pixel pitch creates more density in the pixels and a sharper image at close viewing. High pixel pitch, conversely, has more space between pixels. High pixel pitch displays are used when viewers are farther away. Pixel pitch can range from 1.5 mm to 20+mm depending on whether it’s indoor or outdoor.
Direct View LED displays are made of individual LED panels. They are grouped together offering flexibility in aspect ration and scalability. Unlike LCD displays, Direct View LEDs don’t have visible bezel lines between each panel. This creates a seamless viewing experience.
Digital Signage Players
Digital signage players are an important component for digital signage. The mini-computer powers the content on the screen. In some cases, the digital signage player is designed by the display manufacturer specifically for their device. There are also a variety of independent digital signage players that work with any display.
These players commonly include a web-based server which enables remote monitoring, managing and scheduling of content. They also can include a content design and editing software, enabling a designer to embed images, set resolution and more.
There are a variety of feature options for digital signage players. For example, some offer simultaneous playback of content from local, streaming and live content sources while others integrate with business systems to display real-time data and efficiencies.
Digital Signage Players offer 4K HDR, live HDTV, zone enablement and even mosaic mode. Manufacturers, like BrightSign, develop digital signage players to work on a variety of displays.
Digital Signage Uses by Industry
Healthcare providers are using Digital Signage to deliver a better patient experience and increase engagement. Hospitals are seeing the value of digital wayfinding for indoor and outdoor navigation with step-by-step instructions. They are also using video walls to help share their message with visitors.
Digital Signage in the business environment can enhance customer experience and employee engagement. More and more corporations are using digital signage to provide customers a glimpse into the manufacturing process, supply chain and company culture. Sales teams are leveraging these solutions for tracking and display of metrics throughout the office.
Retail customers are using digital signage to provide a dynamic advertising site in their stores. Digital signage is impacting consumer purchasing decisions driving to the bottom line and reducing the perceived wait times at checkout.
Hotels are using digital signage for better customer interaction. Displays with weather, meeting room numbers and restaurant information are displayed throughout may hospitality organizations.
Restaurants capitalize on digital signage with editable menu boards displaying pricing and promotions. Kiosks and self-ordering are also beginning to take a role in the restaurant experience.