What is digital signage and how does it benefit my organization?

Repeat Signage at Caxton Publishers, SA

Picture courtesy of Caxton Publishers, Johannesburg, and Repeat Signage digital signage software


Printed posters v digital signage

On notice boards in offices, schools and public places, you will find paper notices covering a whole host of topics: Health & Safety, opening times, menus, events and other information.

What is digital signage?

Digital signage is the ability to display still and moving images onto small or large display screens.   It is sometimes referred to as digital media or dynamic content and includes videos, real-time date and clocks, RSS news feeds, webcams, documents such as page-turning PDFs and audio.

Your content is created on a computer and connected to one or more display screens.

Why use digital signage?

Digital signage is used to:

  • Provide information - travel information, menus, weather, college courses...
  • Entertain - play a video or playlist of pictures
  • Advertise - products and services

Where is digital signage used?

Digital signage is used almost anywhere you wish to impart information, to entertain or advertise your organisations activities, products or services.  You will probably have noticed digital signage display screens in many high street stores, shopping malls, airports, schools and colleges, hospitals and clinics.

Outdoor displays can in town centres to give tourists a flavour for what's available, whilst drive through fast food restaurants display menu choices, and sporting venues give information about matches, forthcoming events and sponsor advertisements.

Creating content 

You create your content on your computer and connect to a small or large display screen.  Mini and ultra mini computers (media players) and Slot-in PC's that slot into theback of display screens, are other options.

Your content could be:

  • A simple playlist of pictures
  • A corporate or entertainment video
  • A Microsoft PowerPoint presentation
  • Professional digital signage software

What are the advantages of using professional digital signage software?

Professional digital signage software allows you to include a playlist of pictures (sometimes pictures with captions, useful for display property location and prices), video and, depending on the signage software you use, insert PowerPoint presentations. Here is a list of other media you can use to create your digital signage presentations:

  • Pictures                                                                                                 
  • Pictures with captions
  • Animated pictures
  • Videos or streaming media
  • RSS news feeds (ticker tape messages of news items)
  • Real-time date and clocks across all time zones
  • Audio
  • Webcam and websites
  • Database content
  • Page-turning PDFs
  • Documents such as word processing and spreadsheets

Digital signage software also allows effects and transitions, offers support for RSS news feeds from news websites or your own news feeds, and you can schedule presentations to be displayed on screen at various times of the day or week.

Again, depending on your chosen digital signage software, you can connect from one computer and display your presentations on video walls comprising multiple display screens, either portrait or landscape (landscape is ideal for digital menu boards in fast food restaurants).

Some software packages also allow interactive presentations to be displayed on touch screen monitors and large interactive flat panel displays. These are ideal for way finding in shopping malls and airports, or for turning the pages of brochures or catalogues in retail stores or estate agents.


Updating digital signage content

The majority of digital signage software packages on the market are offered as Software as a Service (SaaS), which normally means you create your presentations on a third party website and update your content to your display screens over the Internet, paying a monthly or annual subscription.

Not everyone wants to pay an on-going subscription and prefer a one-time licence fee, with option to upgrade and purchase support packages, and there are software packages that offer this.  

Privacy is another concern to some customers, who may wish to update their content over the Internet but are not happy using a third party website server. 

There are still areas in the world that do not have Internet connection.  When displaying digital signage on exhibition stands, for instance, having the ability to update content from your own computer without relying on the Internet may be an advantage.  Non-networked military use is another example.

Repeat Signage digital signage software, for example, offers a choice of how content is updated; stand alone, from a local computer network, from a website, via .FTP or over the Internet on their server.  They also offer a one-time licence fee per Windows computer playing presentations onto one display screen. Media Wall edition is available for 2, 3 or 4-screen video wall from one computer.  

Whilst any software needs to be user-friendly, there is usually a learning curve. The advantage of Windows based digital signage software is that millions of people around the world are familar with Microsoft software, and can use familiar menu options, such as Insert Pictures.

There are also Andorid digital signage software packages on the market that operate on Andoid devices, such as tablets, smartphones and smart TVs.

What are the disadvantages of using digital signage software?

  • Time - to create your own digital signage presentations. However, whenever new software is used, there is always a learning curve. Many digital signage software providers will ensure they offer a user-friendly interface. An alternative is to employ the services of a graphic design company to create digital presentations for you (which could be off-set against previous printing costs).
  • Cost - Software that incurs subscriptions has to be budgeted for and can prove very expensive when you use the software for many years.

Repeat Software Ltd., developers of Repeat Signage digital signage software, work with a number of reseller partners who offer value add services.  These include graphic designers who create professional artwork to use in presentations; audio visual suppliers or system integrators for installation of display screens; IT support companies, and companies specialising in niche market areas, such as shopping malls, property agents, education and corporate. 

Repeat Signage digital signage software
Repeat Signage digital signage software for simple and complex signage presentations