At its most basic level, a digital signage content management system (CMS) is a software application that delivers content to one or more digital signage displays.
One way to imagine how a CMS solution works is to think of it as mission control coordinating the timing and delivery of content through a digital signage network, much like an air traffic controller would coordinate traffic at an airport.
Where it becomes tricky for solution providers is deciding which CMS is best for your customers, given that there are hundreds of CMS providers, each offering a multitude of capabilities at different prices.
The guide will walk you through the ABCs of how CMSs breathe life into digital signage systems.
What Exactly Is a CMS?
A digital signage CMS is a software application that enables the deployment of digital signage content across one or more displays.
A typical CMS allows you to schedule, customize, monitor and troubleshoot content across your entire deployment of displays. If content is king, then the CMS is next in the pecking order.
How Do I Access My CMS?
CMSs can be accessed in a number of different ways:
- Locally, as a downloaded program that runs directly from a computer desktop
- Cloud-based, where the CMS dashboard and content are hosted on a provider website
- Via a media player, which can range from USB sticks to small PCs
Today’s CMS providers offer a wide variety of Web-based options. You’ll usually have to log in with a user name and password. The benefits of this system are the ability to control your digital signage anywhere you have access to a computer and the fact that a Web-based CMS can store all your files, leaving space on your hard drive for other data.
What Functionality Does a Digital Signage CMS Offer?
Digital signage CMSs are the nerve center of your digital signage network, and, as such, they perform a number of tasks related to the organization and delivery of content.
Can I Schedule Content Delivery?
One of the great features that a quality CMS offers is the flexibility to schedule content when and where you need it. That’s an invaluable feature to have if your digital signage deployment spans one or more time zones or market verticals.
For retailers, this is an invaluable feature, as it allows the advertisement of sales and special offers at specific times and locations. In the transportation vertical, travel schedules can be delivered specifically to individual airports and train stations.
Can I Create Custom Content?
Many CMS dashboards allow for the creation of custom content whether they are delivered by a CMS template or an included app.
Some of the better CMS packages allow you to tailor your content by allowing you to choose graphics, video and news feeds. Depending on the CMS you choose, you may even be able to input local ZIP codes of your digital signage deployment for local weather.
How Do I Know What’s Being Displayed at Remote Locations?
A good CMS should allow you to remotely monitor the status of every display in your digital signage network as part of the software’s dashboard controls.
It should provide information as to display status, the nature of a problem (if one exists) and the ability to restart the service or display.
Whatever CMS you recommend or sell to your customers, make sure it, at a minimum, offers an easy-to-use dashboard, remote user control, automated software updates and 24/7 support.