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An introduction to digital signage

An introduction to digital signage

Digital signage: No other medium makes it possible to deliver compelling content at the right location at the right time for maximum impact. This video tutorial shows you how to get started setting up your own digital signage system. It covers what you need for a simple standalone media player/one-screen setup, then discusses the benefits of more advanced, multi-screen systems, including those that can be remotely managed, play RSS feeds from the Web, and stream live video.


Digital signage. 
Simply defined, it means using Hi-Def screens to strategically broadcast advertising or multimedia content in an attention-getting way. You’re seeing this emerging technology more and more because no other medium makes it possible to deliver dynamic content at the right location at the right time for maximum impact. Compared to traditional printed signage, digital signage enables you to reach audiences more effectively and in real time. Using conventional methods, it’s almost impossible to make any revisions once the sign is in place. However, with digital signage, you not only disseminate information more quickly—and save on printing costs—but you have the ability to update content on the fly, even from an off-site location.

Digital signage is exploding in every industry, from retail to corporate lobbies, from hospitals to hotels, from trade shows to schools and university campuses. Why? Because it grabs attention, whether you want to: keep people informed of events and last-minute changes; boost sales and brand loyalty; tailor marketing to a specific audience; or set up emergency messaging. And what’s really great is that it’s become affordable, even for small businesses.

How complex it gets depends on several factors: the number of people and sites you want to reach; how scalable you want it to be for future growth; how you want to manage, distribute, and update content; the type of content you want to show. As they say, content is king, and it can be in a number of forms: static text, crawling text, still photos, graphics, flash files, video that’s prerecorded, and video that’s streamed live, and all of these can be created by you or, if your budget allows, by an outside ad agency. And then there’s the delivery method. It can come from a DVD player, a USB flash drive, a media or file server, from the Web, you name it.

So what do you need to get started?
You can deploy a digital signage solution today by simply using an LCD or a plasma screen, a standalone media player loaded with some kind of content, and power. In this application, the player typically attaches behind the screen and you update content on a weekly or daily basis using removable media. It’s the most economical way to get digital signage up and running. It does have its limits, though. With a standalone player, you can play prerecorded content only, and if you use multiple displays, the message is the same on every screen. But if all you want is a PowerPoint® like presentation with bullets, your logo, a photo or two, and a prerecorded video clip, a standalone player may be all you need.

So what if you want to play different messages at multiple locations and you want more managed control over your content?
Then you’ll want a more sophisticated type of player—one that’ll allow you to show different messaging content on different screens, play RSS feeds from the Web, stream live video, and make updates in real-time without going out to the screens themselves. These more advanced media players usually include templates for setting up zones for both recorded and live content. You can drag and drop a JPG image here—your company logo, for instance—right next to a zone playing a live TV or video feed. Then, down here, you can add a news ticker crawl from an RSS feed or even plug in ad-hoc messaging that you change on the fly.

It’s all pretty simple and, with some players, can even be done remotely through a browser-based IP connection or a wired network link. Different solutions come with different complexities. When you implement multiple screens, putting digital signage on a network may make the most sense, especially if you have screens in multiple locations. For example, if you’re in a university setting and have a 60-screen deployment, do you give each department the ability to change content on certain screens, or do you want it centrally controlled? Then there’s the matter of how much training will be involved. Plus, you also have to satisfy the requirements of your IT and security personnel.

Lots of questions, we know. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. Let’s work together. Black Box Network Services is a supplier who will work with your budget and meet your needs today and tomorrow. We’re your everything-behind-the-screens source for not only basic digital signage but for all you need to split, extend, and manage a fully networked, multi-screen setup. And be sure to check out our microsite. It’s full of helpful tutorials and tips on how to get started. Black Box Network Services: integrated solutions delivered for digital signage and more!