The global market for digital signage is experiencing an incredible period of growth, with sales projected to increase about 5 percent each year through 2017, according to industry research firm IHS.
This rapid growth has led to an explosion of new manufacturers and value-added resellers (VARs) entering the industry, leaving many customers and VARs feeling a bit overwhelmed. With so much new technology on the market, where does one even begin to find the right digital signage system? What are the most important priorities for a digital network? What are the best ways to engage an audience?
As a VAR, part of your role in the digital signage world is to help your customers make sense of such a dynamic industry. To get started, keep in mind these top five things you need to know about digital signage networks:
1. Content is still king.
No matter how advanced and high-tech digital signage becomes, content will always be the No. 1 make-or-break factor. Your content must be relevant, engaging and fresh. Make it your top goal to reach the right people with the right message, and you’ll be on your way to success.
Of course, content isn’t a one-shot task. Once you’ve identified and reached your target audience, stay on your toes. You have to keep the content exciting, up-to-date and lively. Otherwise, viewers will tune out after the first few times they’ve seen your signage.
2. Location makes all the difference.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it bears repeating: Digital signage will never be effective if the audience doesn’t see and engage with it. Carefully consider the design of the facility, and how people use it, when deploying a new digital signage project.
For example, are you installing interactive displays? Avoid busy thoroughfares and hallways. Will you be displaying content that includes lots of small text? Be sure to mount the digital signage low enough for people to read it. Are your displays going to reside on an outdoor patio? Specify screens that can live up to the summer heat and have non-reflective glass.
3. Employees must be on board.
A company’s employees must “buy into” a new digital signage solution in order for it to succeed. If they see the value of digital menu boards or wayfinding screens, they’re more likely to ensure the technology is maintained and up-to-date (and turned on each morning). But if they feel burdened or annoyed by the digital signage—for example, if they have to listen to the same repetitive music or audio all day—chances are it will be neglected, and its effectiveness will suffer over time.
4. Leverage the network for updates.
One of the main selling points of digital signage is near-automatic updating. When possible, use the network to remotely update each system. This takes human error out of the equation, since your customer won’t have to rely on local employees to perform content updates.
5. Scalability is a must-have.
Say the initial install of 10 screens is a success. What happens when a customer comes back and says they now need to expand their network to 500 devices or add touchscreen or SMS texting capabilities?
Here is where your initial technology choices really come into play. Pick hardware and software that can easily scale up to support a larger network or richer features—from the beginning. That way, you’ll save yourself time and money expanding or modifying a system, and you’ll ensure the customer stays with you for the long haul.
What are some of the surprising lessons you have learned when working with digital signage? If you could share one piece of advice with new VARs and new customers, what would it be?