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Why is digital signage important?

Why is digital signage important?When someone mentions “digital signage” to you, what comes to mind?

  • An airport or train station arrival/departure sign?
  • An LED billboard on the side of the road?
  • An flat panel display in a retail store?

Surprisingly, digital signage is far more common than most people think.  This is based on the ever-increasing sales of commercial flat panel displays and LED signs.  You see, digital signage has the power to instantly connect with viewers wherever they are.  Important notifications, instant messages, and alerts can be sent to any number of displays, reaching audiences regardless of their activity.

Digital signage has proven itself to be extremely useful for Amber alerts, and emergency evacuation messages.  It’s used to reach people who may not be carrying a smartphone or tablet.  Furthermore, with digital signage, there is no need to install apps on a phone.  Messages and alerts are delivered as the need arises, and anyone within sight of a display will be informed instantly.

To ensure digital signage fulfils its mandate, be sure to stick with these best practices.

  • Install your displays in the right place. Look for locations where people naturally congregate and spend time, such as waiting rooms or close to elevators.  Hallways are also good locations, but you should adapt your content accordingly (use shorter content, less text).  People walking by won’t absorb as much information, since they are only within visual range of the display for a very brief time.
  • Make sure there are good sightlines with no obstructions.
  • Don’t install your displays too high or too far, as this will make them difficult to read.
  • When creating your digital signage content, stick to proven design rules. Use contrasting colours for foreground text and backgrounds.  Select a clean and simple font, and make it big enough so it can be read from a distance.  Don’t use too many words or fancy fonts, as this can impact readability.

Next steps

If you don’t already use a digital signage software, or if you are comparing products, look for a solution that support automated alerts.  These are professional-grade software products that can interrupt scheduled content to display your messages.  When the emergency or situation has passed, normal programming is restored.  This is commonly referred to as triggered content, and it can be extremely useful.  You should always consider digital signage software that supports automated and manual triggers.

Here are some examples:

  • An automated fire alarm triggers evacuation messages to appear on digital displays in a building.
  • An Amber Alert is flashed across many LED billboards in a city, interrupting all advertising content.
  • An evacuation alert is shown across a shopping mall’s digital signage network, informing shoppers about which exit to use.

Triggers aren’t only meant for alerts.  They can be used in retail as well.

Be creative!

  • Instantly advertise an overstock product to reduce your inventory.
  • Promote an item based on environmental factors (cold beer during a heat spell, or umbrellas when it’s raining).
  • Stores that use RFID tags attached to products can call up ads based on the items in a shopper’s basket. Like an ad for socks that appears when someone walks by with a new pair of pants, or a promotion for paintbrushes for someone who picked up a gallon of paint.

Content can also be triggered by third-party apps running on smartphones.  This is perfect for changing products or prices instantly.  Smartphone apps can also trigger useful content on demand.  Imagine a store assistant who can call up product information videos and web site content to answer a shopper’s questions.  This can be especially valuable for people selling high-end appliances, automobiles and luxury goods.

Other applications


Digital signage helps people navigate buildings so they can get to their destination as quickly as possible.  This can be an entirely passive process, or it can require user intervention.  In the passive scenario, maps are shown as part of other content and looped for a given time.  This is the playlist method commonly used in most digital signage software.

The interactive scenario requires an action from the audience.  In this case, a touch screen would be installed so visitors can call-up a map.  Finding a location can be assisted with a text search capability or by manually scrolling and zooming a map.

Text searches work great in retail applications (like, show me all the shoe stores in the mall), but you can also select a store name from a list.  Once the visitor has stopped using the touch screen, the scheduled content takes over until someone touches the screen again.  This is called wayfinding and it’s the evolution of printed maps and signs.

Relying on digital signage technologies for wayfinding is a major step forward.

Here’s why…

  • The content (maps, lists, etc.) can updated continuously to reflect the current state of a physical location or venue.
  • Previously, maps and signs would be printed and shipped out periodically. They would quickly become obsolete, so they were only accurate for short periods of time.
  • Wayfinding maps have entered the 3D age. They can be manipulated by the audience in real-time to present the most useful angle or view.  This makes it easier to find what you are looking for.
  • Maps can feature information about any destination. They can also include business logos, videos, and instant messages about promotions, hours of operation and other useful information.

General business/call center/ factory signage

These applications can benefit from many digital signage features.  With the proper content, digital signage can engage, and empower your staff.  This goes further than the obvious motivational content.  Digital signage displays can pull data from business databases in real time, and deliver this information in an easily understandable way.  This is commonly referred to as “business intelligence” or BI.

Today, BI is used in the C-Suite and on the factory floor.  Data is crunched and shown in colorful graphs that are always up to date.  Properly designed BI dashboards can instantly alert key stakeholders about any measurement, or statistic:

  • Key performance indicators (KPI).
  • Statistical goals (calls received/answered, after call wrap-up time, number of outbound dials, talk time, etc.)
  • Production benchmarks (overall equipment effectiveness, overall labor effectiveness, scrap/yield rates, failure rates, on-time in full, complaint rates, etc.)

This type of information is extremely important to both management, and staff.  It’s why digital signage displays are being deployed in more and more businesses worldwide.  With digital signage, information flows through the enterprise so everyone knows how they’re performing.

Companies who rely on digital signage for their BI needs perform better.  Employees are more engaged, and there is less turnover.

Queue management

Digital signage has been extremely popular in applications where there may be long wait times.  Think of your local DMV office, medical clinic waiting room or busy large format retail store.

These digital signage displays perform multiple functions.

  • They play general information / weather / news / sports.
  • They handle queue management, and alert visitors when a representative or cashier is available.

Queue management can positively impact a visitor’s experience by reducing perceived dwell times.  After all, time goes by a lot faster when you have something interesting to watch.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to provide useful information, and promote your services or products.  A good mix of advertising, local news and weather has been proven to improve customer’s perception about a company or organization.