Digital signage is the way forward in marketing, advertising, retail and sales promotions. It can be done on physical displays such as billboards or posters hanging up in stores, but it's also possible to use digital media like videos and live feeds of stock prices, sports scores and news updates. You could even have your own virtual billboard that shows whatever image, message or advertisement you choose!
There are many ways to go about setting up a digital signage network. The easiest route would be to buy a ready-made product from an established company who already has all the hardware and software needed. If you're more interested in DIY (Doing It Yourself) then there are plenty of options available online, including Windows desktop computer programs which allow you to set up a complete digital signage solution yourself.
If you don't want to spend any money at all then there are several different methods you can try out without spending anything -- these include:
Using social networks to display messages that appear automatically when someone shares them. You'll find lots of examples on YouTube if you search around.
Creating your own customised digital signage website where you can upload images, text, music and other multimedia files. This will take some time to put together and cost money, so only consider this option if you really know what you're doing.
Use third party apps to add digital signs to websites. These often work by embedding preloaded graphics into webpages, so they won't look particularly professional unless you've spent hours tweaking the code.
Create your own digital signage program using one of the above mentioned free or paid-for software packages, or building your own application. There are plenty of resources out there explaining how to create applications. We recommend checking out our article How To Build Your Own Digital Signs Board For Smart TVs.
Below we explain how to get started making your very own digital signage program using Microsoft PowerPoint 2013.
The first step is to decide exactly what kind of screen you'd like to present your information on. Some ideas might include:
Wall mounts - mounted onto walls or ceilings using suction fittings. They come in various sizes and shapes.
Flat panel monitors - typically hung on stands near desks or counters.
Smart TV - usually connected to a PC via HDMI cable
Projector - which project images on to large surfaces such as whiteboards or screens
These devices can range greatly in price depending upon their size, shape and quality of picture. A decent HDTV costs less than £200 while a full HD 1080p projector may cost thousands of pounds.
For most people, however, a smart TV is ideal because it doesn't require much maintenance beyond plugging it into power and internet connection cables. Many people now prefer to watch television programmes through services such as Netflix rather than owning their own equipment. In fact, there are now dozens of companies offering streaming services to smart televisions. One example is Amazon Fire Stick, which comes with access to tens of thousands of movies and TV series, as well as hundreds of radio stations and channels.
Once you've chosen your device, you must install the appropriate drivers before being able to connect it to your home network.
Now you're ready to start designing your digital sign. As explained below, your choice of design tool depends entirely upon whether you're going to make use of Microsoft Office or not. But regardless, here's what you should expect to see once you begin working on your digital sign.
1. Choose the correct template
Before you start designing, you must pick the right template for your needs. Most templates contain standard elements that you can customize to fit your requirements. Here's just a few of the possibilities:
News ticker - which presents headlines, stories and comments across multiple lines of text.
Banner - which features a central graphic element surrounded by smaller ones
Text block - contains blocks of text aligned vertically along the left side of the page
List - similar to a table layout, lists items horizontally
2. Add images, text & logos
As soon as you open your template, you'll probably notice that it includes a collection of blank boxes waiting for you to fill them with images, texts and logos.
To insert new objects, simply click inside each section of the template and drag the required item over the relevant box. When adding images, remember that larger pictures will always appear better than smaller ones. Use your mouse wheel to zoom in and out as necessary.
3. Create slideshows
Slideshows aren't strictly speaking part of digital signage, but they certainly enhance its overall visual appeal. Slideshow creation involves arranging photos, clips and animations in sequence, so check out our article about creating slideshow presentation templates for PowerPoint.
4. Customise backgrounds
Backgrounds are another handy feature included in most templates. Once again, you don't actually change the background itself, but instead pick one from among numerous predefined designs. Selecting a suitable background helps to give your digital sign a polished appearance that matches the rest of your brand identity.
5. Save & publish
When you're happy with your final design, you can save it to either your local drive or send it off to share with others. Saving directly to the hard disk allows you to retain a copy of the file, whereas sharing to the cloud means anyone with Internet access can view your slide show whenever they wish.
6. Publish directly to the web
After saving your finished design, you can quickly send it straight to the web. Simply select File " Share "Publish Online... under Tools " Options " Web Publishing Settings. Then follow the prompts to finish publishing your slideshows to your personal website.
In order to start a digital signage campaign, you'll firstly need to purchase the appropriate hardware. Depending upon your budget, you can opt for something simple such as a small flat-panel monitor, or go all out and invest in a high definition projection setup.
With both types of equipment, you can then download free software to help manage your content. An excellent piece of software called Signagelive offers everything you need to keep track of every aspect of your digital signage workflow. With this package installed, all you need to do is upload content and let the app handle the rest.
Here's an overview of what you can expect from your Signagelive installation:
Content management - allowing you to import, edit, preview and delete existing material
Display settings - allowing you to configure how your digital signs will appear
Alert notifications - letting users know when their content is due to expire
Notifications - informing viewers when new content becomes available
Reporting - giving you detailed statistics on audience engagement and usage
Audience monitoring - tracking viewer activity on individual pages
It's important to note that the Signagelive package isn't cheap though. At its cheapest, you'll pay $49 (£35 / AU$59). However, if you subscribe to OptiSigns' premium service, you'll receive unlimited access to all their products for an annual fee of $99 (£75 / AU$119), although you'll still need to upgrade to the latest version of Signagelive to benefit from the additional functionality.
While it's true that it's easier to set up digital signage systems using expensive equipment, this approach isn't necessarily cheaper long term. Instead, opting for simpler solutions tends to result in lower operating expenses too. So, if you're looking to cut down on expenditure in the short term, why not give this approach a try?
All you'll need to do is purchase a suitable laptop running Windows 7 SP1 or higher, plus a webcam capable of capturing 720p resolution footage. Alternatively, you could opt for a Raspberry Pi 3B+ equipped with 4GB RAM and 32GB SSD storage space. Both units offer sufficient processing power to run the software you'll use to produce your digital signage.
Many laptops now come fitted with built-in cameras. One good model is Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 2, which starts at just £499. Another popular alternative is Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Edition. While neither unit is specifically designed for digital signage purposes, both models are compatible with a wide variety of peripherals, including external hard drives, USB flash drives and SD cards.
Finally, you'll need an ample supply of blank sheets of paper to print your promotional materials. These can easily be bought cheaply enough online, especially if you shop around during sale seasons.
Although traditional printed advertisements may seem old fashioned nowadays, they're unlikely to disappear anytime soon. After all, millions of newspapers and magazines continue to circulate daily. And the same goes for books, CDs and DVDs.
So, what about those things made from ink and plastic? Well, despite the popularity of tablets and smartphones, these electronic gadgets remain largely confined to home environments.
Therefore, it makes sense to focus attention on digital signage boards, which are commonly found in shopping malls, restaurants and offices throughout the world. These massive screens provide a convenient platform for displaying static ads and live broadcasts of sporting events, breaking news reports and financial data.
Digital signage can be used in many places such as retail stores, restaurants, schools, offices, healthcare facilities, hospitals, airports, hotels, casinos, gyms, cinemas, cinemas, etc. It’s often associated with ‘smart buildings’ or ‘smart cities’ but it has been around much longer than that.
The term was first introduced by the US military during World War II when they were developing their own electronic displays which could display information about troop movements. These became known as Electronic Information Displays (EID) and remained in use until the 1960s.
Since then, the technology has evolved from being simple black-and-white static displays to being interactive touchscreens, 3D holograms, and even virtual reality headsets!
Nowadays, you will find digital signage at every level of society whether at home, school, work, public spaces like parks, shopping centers, malls, libraries, museums, theaters, concert halls, stadiums, sports arenas, etc.
Today we have many different types of digital signage appliances including Windows PCs running Digital Signage Software (DSS), Mac computers running DSS on macOS, mobile devices running DSS apps, iPads running iCue Apps, Android smartphones and tablets running iCue Apps, Google Chromecast Ultra, Apple TV 4K, Roku streaming players, Amazon Fire Stick, Nest Hub, etc. It also includes DIY hardware solutions such as Raspberry Pi powered signboards. We'll cover all these options below.
If you are looking to set up a digital signage system for your business or organization, here's everything you need to know about what you should look out for before purchasing anything.
Before getting started, let us define what exactly a digital signage appliance is. A digital signage device is any piece of equipment used to show visual media such as text, graphics, audio files, videos, animations, and so forth. This may include computer monitors, televisions, projectors, kiosks, touchscreen panels, and more. The most common example would be a large flat screen television mounted near an entrance and showing advertisements.
You might not realize this, but if you go into your local supermarket and watch people walk past the checkout counter displaying ads while waiting, you're seeing digital signage. There are also examples of digital signage within cars too - see our article "Driving through advertising" for more details.
This type of digital signage is generally referred to as 'offline' because the content displayed does not change dynamically based on events happening outside the physical space where the digital signage is located. For instance, if someone walks into a movie theater showing a particular film, that same advertisement will still appear on the big screen after the end credits roll. However, if the same advertisement appears on another screen inside the theater, it won't play anymore once the movie ends. In other words, it's only relevant to the specific audience viewing it at the time.
In contrast, online digital signage changes constantly depending on the activity taking place both inside and outside of the physical space where the digital signage is installed. If somebody walks into a store and buys something, the price tag shown on the digital screens reflects those new prices immediately. When the customer leaves, the prices revert back to whatever they were originally.
So, technically speaking, there isn't really such thing as 'online' vs 'offline' digital signage since it depends entirely upon the context of the situation.
However, one major difference between online and offline digital signage is that the latter requires some sort of server/backend to host the data needed to power dynamic visuals. Without a backend, offline digital signage doesn't actually function properly.
Here are several popular brands of commercial digital signage products available today.
No, although it shares some similarities with traditional monitors. But instead of just displaying pictures and videos, digital signage uses multimedia technologies to present rich user experiences.
Unlike regular monitors, digital signage allows users to interact directly with the content presented. They can click on links, scroll down pages, zoom in and out, search for items, highlight parts of the page, view menus, etc.
Another key advantage over regular monitors is that unlike them, digital signage enables users to move seamlessly across multiple applications without having to open each one separately. So, instead of stopping what you're doing to switch tabs, you can simply swipe left or right to navigate between websites and apps on the same screen.
Content Management Systems (CMS) allow administrators to easily update the content stored on servers remotely via an internet connection. Using a CMS, anyone who owns a website or web application can manage its content without needing access to the code behind it.
For example, if you run a restaurant called 'Pizza Hut', you can upload the menu onto a CMS and then add photos of pizza toppings, recipes, ingredients, reviews, ratings, etc. You can then share the updated version of Pizza Hut's menu with everyone else.
There are lots of CMS platforms available today. Some of the best ones include WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, Magento, PrestaShop, Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, SquareSpace, WooCommerce, and others.
Many companies offer hosted versions of these CMSes in order to save money. Here's an overview of the top 10 free CMS hosting services according to TechCrunch.
Yes, two kinds of apps exist for making digital signage: standalone apps and embedded apps. Standalone apps are programs designed specifically for creating digital signage. Embedded apps come preinstalled with certain devices (e.g., TVs) and provide additional functionality beyond basic functions (e.g., Netflix).
One great way to get started learning about the various ways to create digital signage is to check out our list of free digital signage software resources.
We've highlighted three powerful digital signage creation tools that don't cost a cent. Each offers unique features and functionalities that help streamline the process of building professional quality digital signage campaigns.
OptiSigns Inc.: Easily build stunning digital signage projects quickly & inexpensively. No coding required.
1Password: Create passwords for accounts, logins, credit cards, and more. Save time and effort.
Vidyo: Build professional-quality live streams with no technical knowledge whatsoever.
Once you start digging deeper into the topic of digital signage, you'll discover countless niche communities dedicated to helping businesses and organizations of all sizes leverage the benefits of digital signage to grow their bottom lines.
Some of the biggest names in tech industry have already invested millions of dollars into investing in digital signage solutions. Companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, LinkedIn, Uber, Airbnb, Apple, Samsung, Dell, Amazon, IBM, Cisco, Salesforce, Oracle, HP, VMware, SAP, Adobe, Intel, Qualcomm, PayPal, eBay, Walmart, Target, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Disney, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, T-Mobile, HBO, CBS, NBC Universal, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, ESPN, ABC, FOX Sports 1, 2, and 5, etc. are among the thousands of customers who rely on digital signage for marketing purposes.
As mentioned above, there are also plenty of DIY digital signage hardware solutions for creating beautiful custom signage. Below is a short summary of some of the most affordable DIY hardware solutions currently available.
Raspberry Pi: Powerful single-board computing solution ideal for creative hobbyists. Great choice for beginners.
Arduino: Popular microcontroller platform ideal for programming enthusiasts. Good choice for intermediate learners.
Nest Hub: Home automation hub compatible with Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and IFTTT. Best choice for advanced coders.
Amazon Echo Show 5: Smart speaker with built-in camera. Ideal for quick demos, demonstrations, and product launches.
Google Nest Mini: Small form factor mesh Wi-Fi router with voice control support. Excellent choice for smaller businesses.
Apple iPad Pro 9.7": Multi-purpose tablet with excellent performance and battery life. Perfect for large scale deployments due to portability.
These are just a few examples of the wide variety of low cost off-the-shelf solutions available today. And there's always room for improvement. Newer models keep coming out almost weekly.
Hopefully this article helps answer some questions regarding digital signage and gives you inspiration to further explore the world of digital signage. As always, feel free to reach out to me with any comments or suggestions in the comments section below.
Digital content can be used in many ways as part of your marketing strategy. It’s great for advertising products or services, promoting events, sharing information about new releases and providing useful tips on health and safety issues. Digital signs can also tell you when it's time to leave the office at lunchtime, show live sports scores during games or provide updates on traffic conditions before you head out to work.
In this article we will look into some of the best free digital signage programs that allow you to quickly set up professional looking displays without having any knowledge of coding or programming. You'll learn how to use these easy-to-use programs to display static images and videos, but you should never underestimate what they can achieve if you combine them with other features such as interactive menus, animated logos and more!
If you're an experienced coder who wants to add a bit of pizzazz to your existing website then check our list of the top WordPress plugins that every web designer needs. If you want something simpler and easier to install, here are all the essential elements you'll need to put together a simple DIY signboard.
We've looked at several examples of impressive digital signage projects from companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Disney. Here's another example of a cool digital sign made by one of our readers. We hope you find inspiration to make your own unique signage project too!
Before getting started with your digital signage project, there are a few things you should understand first. How does it work exactly? What kind of hardware do you require? And why would anyone choose digital over traditional signage solutions?
Here are three reasons why you might consider installing digital signage instead of going down the conventional route of hiring a large team of technicians to build a physical sign board:
It doesn't take long to get started - you don't have to wait weeks for someone else to come round and fit it. The process starts right away once you download the software onto your computer, tablet or phone.
You can change whatever you want whenever you want - unlike printed materials which must follow specific guidelines and regulations, digital media allows you to edit text and graphics at any time.
Your message has unlimited potential - whether it's a short announcement or a lengthy presentation, digital signage offers endless possibilities for delivering timely and engaging messages.
The cost is low compared to printing costs - most of these programs offer free trial versions so you can try them before committing to anything expensive. Some even let you save money because you only pay per month rather than upfront fees.
There are plenty of options available to help you design, write, produce and present your digital signage content. But not all of them are suitable for everyone. For instance, if you plan on running a lot of different promotional campaigns throughout the year then you may want to invest in a program that lets you manage multiple sites across multiple devices simultaneously. This way you could send a single update to hundreds of thousands of people at once.
However, if you just want to run a quick campaign where you share important news, promote upcoming sales or simply advertise your business, you shouldn't need much more than a laptop or smartphone and access to the internet. Most modern smartphones include cameras and touchscreens, while tablets usually feature high resolution screens (although not always).
As long as you have those two items then you already meet the basic requirements. In fact, you probably have everything you need sitting around in your home already. All you really need now is the right piece of equipment to go along with it...
Software helps us organize and manipulate data in order to perform complex tasks. A digital signage system uses this technology to enable users to interact directly with their computers through touchscreen interfaces or via buttons and knobs. That means you can control the entire experience from start to finish, allowing you to customize everything according to your preferences.
For example, you could decide to keep everything automated or turn it completely manual depending on the type of event you're planning and the audience you expect to attend. Or maybe you'd prefer to give customers the option to select between different types of advertisements based on their age group or gender.
Whatever your vision for your digital signage setup, you'll almost certainly need a good combination of both hardware and software. However, since almost all digital signage platforms are designed specifically for mobile devices, you won't necessarily need additional hardware either. So, unless your idea involves displaying a complicated menu layout, you should be able to complete it all within the confines of your device alone.
There are basically four main categories of digital signage software:
Static Content Management Systems: These programs are often referred to as CMS systems because they allow you to upload files containing photos, texts, animations, audio clips and links to websites. They typically support drag & drop functionality, making it easy to place objects anywhere on screen. Many also incorporate social networking integration so you can easily publish posts to Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Interactive Content Management Systems: Interactive content management systems are similar to static ones except that they include advanced editing capabilities that allow you to add effects such as shadows, 3D transitions, lighting and motion blur. They tend to focus less on social networks though, so you won't see lots of activity taking place on the account itself. Instead, you'll mostly likely see the occasional post to your company's blog.
Online Media Players: Online media players are similar to static content management systems, although they generally contain fewer features. When paired with a camera or webcam, online media players allow you to broadcast real-world scenes straight to viewers' browsers. Since they rely exclusively on streaming technologies, however, they aren't very reliable.
Offline Media Player Software: Offline media player software differs slightly from its online counterpart because it requires Internet connectivity to function properly. As far as user interface goes, however, it works in pretty much the same way as the others.
That depends entirely on your budget and personal preference. Each solution comes with pros and cons, so you should carefully examine each product before deciding which one suits your needs best. Generally speaking though, if you enjoy tinkering with code then you should opt for a full blown desktop application. On the other hand, if you're comfortable working with HTML5 and CSS3, then you should definitely take a closer look at online applications.
Finally, remember that there isn't one ideal tool for every situation. Although most of today's popular digital signage providers specialize in particular areas, you can still benefit from trying out various offerings to discover the perfect mix of features and functions that suit your individual style and brand identity.
Once you know what you're doing, it gets even better! Check below for details on how to install digital signage on Raspberry Pi.
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