What Is Digital Signage, And How Does It Works
Communicate, and inform through multimedia content, on the city’s streets, in underground and railway stations, airports, shops, shopping centers, and entertainment and catering places. And the list could be extended to include health care, private companies and public bodies. We are talking about Digital Signage or digital panels, children of the old, static light billboard on which contents were projected in a continuous cycle using a CD or DVD. In the last decade, technology has transformed old signage into a dynamic, creative and visually impactful digital tool.
Its applications today range from advertising and promotional communication in points of sale to information and “institutional” communication, typical of public bodies and companies, from presentations during events and conferences to path indicators in museums, schools and trade fairs. In short, we are immersed in Digital Signage: it alerts us about promotions and discounts, tells us if our turn has arrived at the cash desk or if a means of transport is on its way, announces meetings and meetings, and provides us with emergency communications. And, if we are in a restaurant, he can show us the day’s menu.
Digital Signage As A “Network”
How does digital signage work in practice? Consisting of one or more terminals located throughout the territory (even thousands scattered worldwide), Digital Signage is a minor or pervasive network managed by a central server, which sends multimedia contents remotely to all terminals. The terminals are connected to this network using a digital player which reproduces, on one or more panels, texts, images and videos (with or without audio) received from the server.
Digital Signage can be of different types: wall or ceiling screens, totems, and interactive tables. It depends on the scope and communication needs. The central server receives the contents from a terminal that manages the entire programming. This management system is given by Visual Content Management software, which can remotely control all the contents. Let’s see how.
There are multiple Visual Content Management solutions. The most advanced allow simultaneously managing the multimedia contents of all installed devices (even thousands), wherever they are in the world. All are always from a remote location. The latest generation software allows for personalized content planning: same playback on multiple terminals at different times or diversified playback based on the target audience.
In summary, it is possible to synchronize multiple monitors on time and fine-tune content playlists with different display priorities. Today, Visual Content Management software can also create more significant public involvement, becoming an increasingly active subject and at the center of the “user experience”.
For example, in the retail sector, it allows you to view social content relating to the store’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram page on the screen in real-time, inviting customers to interact with each other. And, thanks to numerous apps, which allow, for example, to view the weather of the location in which it is located or to broadcast the latest news and current affairs from the Internet or specific information sites, Digital Signage has become a multichannel tool capable of attracting, engaging, and entertaining the public.
The Hardware Part
The digital panels on which the terminals reproduce the multimedia contents received from the central server can be of various types. Depending on the context and the objective of the communication, it is possible to choose between different solutions: high-brightness LED displays, maxi LED screens, wall or ceiling, interactive and multimedia totems, multi-touch interactive tables, multimedia showcases, video walls, boxes that take advantage of the principles of holography and tablets for commercial use.
Video Walls, interactive totems, whiteboards and multi-touch tables are suitable for corporate presentations. While, for events and fairs, the 3D monitors without glasses or interactive floors are of significant impact, which change the contents according to the movements of those who step on them. Then, there are the answers to some problems. This is the case, for example, of the external monitor, which is hit by direct sunlight. What to do? Better to use a display that does not get dark, does not overheat and whose colors always remain bright.
Digital Signage And IoT
Suppose it is true that, in the last decade, technology has evolved to transform old signage into a dynamic digital tool. In that case, it is equally valid that, today, Digital Signage is increasingly interactive and increasingly connected. One of the most attractive functions of Digital Signage in the retail sector is the “interactive recognition” of the product. What is it about?
The customer who wants more details on a specific item can – through a reader that detects the barcode, the QR code or the RFID tag placed on the product – scan it and, in this way, access a series of information that is displayed on display and which can then be shared on the smartphone or tablet of the same customer and the main social channels. Still, in the retail sector, the most recent Visual Content Management software can create greater audience engagement by displaying the contents of the store’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages in real-time on the screens, inviting customers to interact with each other.
Interactive And Multifunction Workstations
The latest generation of Digital Signage goes beyond the original function of “signage”. It opens up to a series of services, both in the public and private sectors, which have to do with payments, purchases, reservations and promotions. Services that are provided through interactive stations (kiosks or totems), connected to the Internet and communication, equipped with large screens and present in multiple contexts, including public administration, health, transport, hotels, catering and retail and in those areas that provide for acceptances, reservations and handling of paperwork.
In these multifunctional stations, it is possible – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – to buy tickets for any means of transport and book and purchase tickets for concerts, shows, sporting events and fairs. And it is also possible to request information: at the user’s specific request, Digital Signage responds with videos, demos and unique content.
Promote And Communicate
In addition to payment services, purchases and reservations, today, Digital Signage are also an effective means for couponing. An example is a reproduction, on display, of a QR code to download, on your smartphone or tablet, a coupon that allows you to take advantage of a discount or a gadget. But also, bars, spas, restaurants and fast food restaurants are adopting Digital Signage as an increasingly central component of interactive customer communication.
The aim is to show him the menus and activities of the day and allow him to book the selected services at the most appropriate time. Here the digital panels can be on the wall, hooked to the ceiling, behind the cash desks, in the reception, in the common areas, or arranged in an interactive station, thus enabling different forms of transmission and communication.
Fields Of Application
Digital signage is everywhere. It informs, warns, entertains, and offers services that simplify the small daily routines related to payments, purchases and reservations. We find it in different contexts to remind us how versatile and multifaceted it is. Retail and, more generally, points of sale represent the most well-known field of application with the most significant number of examples and success stories. But Digital Signage is not just advertising and promotional communication, nor just a marketing tool.
Urban Transport, Railway Stations And Airports
Digital Signage is increasingly present on city transport vehicles, within metropolitan and railway stations and, ultimately, in airports. With what purpose? Provide travelers with timely and real-time information on the vehicle they are using, travel times, connections and any delays and route changes. A helpful communication, in short, is the transmission of weather, news and current affairs reports taken from the Internet or specific information sites.
In airports, on the other hand, digital signage gives information on places (where there are shops and ATMs, where to eat, where the information center and other valuable offices are), as well as onboarding, gates, exits, departures and arrivals. But, in this context, Digital Signage is also entertainment for the public in transit through travel-themed films, videos of distant places and news from the world.
Hospitals, Medical And Dental Offices
Digital Signage is making a profound change in doctor-patient communication in the healthcare sector. How? In the extensive admissions of hospitals, in the waiting rooms of clinics and doctors’ offices, where everyone awaits their turn, the displays that transmit information on the various pathologies, the correct hygiene rules to be adopted, prevention campaigns and various news on health, besides to “educate” the patient, to give him valuable tools of knowledge, they entertain him, relieving any anxieties and worries due to his state of health, to the visit or the diagnostic examination that he is waiting for.
Digital Signage For Retail
Among the areas of application of Digital Signage, Retail is the best known and, perhaps, the first in order of time. Informing customers and involving them are the primary objectives of digital signage in shops, supermarkets, clothing stores and other retail outlets. The purpose is clear: to increase sales and build customer loyalty.