Sunday, 20 March 2011

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.

Digital Signage Displays are most usually controlled by basic Personal Computers by way of proprietary software programs, avoiding any large capital outlays for the controller equipment.

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.[1]

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.

Market and applications

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"[citation needed].

China currently leads the world in the number of digital signage displays deployed and number of NASDAQ IPOs, with the country's biggest digital signage firm, Focus Media Holding, 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.[3]

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.[4]
   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[5]) or with dynamic wayfinding


    * Black Box Corporation
    * ConnectedSign
    * Four Winds Interactive
    * Nanonation
    * NEC
    * Netkey
    * ONELAN
    * Scala, Inc
    * SHARP
    * SpinetiX


"Content", in the context of digital signage, is the name used to describe anything designed and displayed on screens. Content can be anything, including text, images, animations, video, audio, and interactivity. It has frequently been argued that digital signage relies on good content if it is to work effectively.[6]

While the technology is well-established, it is often the content that fails, because marketers have not adapted their thinking to produce appropriate and engaging content[citation needed].

Content design (much like the design for static signage) is typically done through a specialist agency or in-house. While there are a great number of different software solutions available, the most popular are proprietary to digital signage. The use of other systems to run a digital signage network often does not provide the necessary flexibility and management, as the proprietary software can create conflicts with open-source software.

In many digital signage applications, content must be regularly updated to ensure that the correct messages are being displayed. This can either be done manually as and when needed, through a scheduling system, using a data feed from a content provider (e.g. Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters, AHN) or an in-house data source)


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.


Digital signage displays may be LCD or plasma screens, LED boards, projection screens or other emerging display types like interactive surfaces[8] or Organic LED screens (OLEDs). Other, less traditional technologies for digital signage exist, such as 'holographic displays',[9] water screens and fog screens.[10] However, these are typically used for smaller one-off installations rather than large networks.

Rapidly-dropping prices for large plasma and LCD screens have led to a growing increase in the number of digital signage installations.[11] Another price-related benefit that is allowing a larger group of businesses to install digital signage is the increasing availability of newer LCD and plasma display brands in the market. Many locations have opted to forgo more expensive brand name displays for more affordable displays from less well-known companies.

Content playback and management

Content is played to the displays of a digital signage network from at least one media player (or an internal player for standalone screens). 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 advertisements then upload changes to the D.A.N via the internet.

Developments in web services have meant the APIs for some digital signage software now allow for customized content management interfaces through which end-users can manage their content from one location, in a way which suits their requirement.