Thinking about implementing digital signage? Now might be the time. The capabilities, visuals and accessibility (most of the time) for digital screens have never been better. However, even with the best plans, certain barriers can make it difficult to optimize your digital signage and extract the technology’s full potential.
We’re going to look at a few common challenges you may experience when implementing and connecting a new digital signage network. Spoiler alert: pre-planning is the best preventative measure in all cases.
Choosing the Right Digital Signage Hardware
Before installing digital signage, it’s imperative to research which of the many options is most suited to meet your needs and budget. You’ll need to research and get specifications for displays, mounts, media players and, if needed, hardware to connect to LTE. Don’t forget cables and other accessories, as well.
Be sure to review your use case and current needs as well as how you expect to scale your digital signage network in the coming years. Otherwise, you’ll be limiting yourself when it comes to using your solution, or have to spend more money later to upgrade.
- Size of screen: Depending on where you want to put it, and what sort of content you wish to display, you might find a larger or smaller screen more suitable. When considering a smaller display, a tablet may be an option. Consider the content you will display and the location where it will be featured. These factors will help determine what is best for your situation.
- Type of screen: There are many options, LCD, projection, LED, 4K, tablet, and others. Each has its own advantages and limitations in terms of size, price, and what it’s best at displaying. Where you are placing the screen (indoors/outdoors) will help you select the right display.
Wall Mount Options
Where are you going to mount the display? Floor, wall, or ceiling? Maybe you are planning to use a tablet as a kiosk? The type of mount you will need will vary depending on the space you’re in and whether you want the screens to be interactive. Your signage partner can help you determine the best hardware for your organization.
Media Player Requirements
A media player is the hardware that connects your digital screens to the internet and your content management system (CMS). Give some thought as to how you plan to connect your media player to the internet since not all media players offer the ability to connect to LTE, WiFi, and ethernet – or a combination of the three. Additionally, some commercial monitors are configured as a System on a Chip (SoC) player, meaning there is no external media player to connect. You should consider which option will work best for you, your facilities and your team.
Selecting a Content Management Software (CMS) Solution
Many companies that first installed digital signs connected them directly to PCs. This was great in that the screen could show anything the user selected on the PC. It was nearly impossible to scale as each screen was controlled independently of the others and had to be manually refreshed. Similarly, the content for some screens even today is run from USB drives. Again, in these scenarios, each screen or USB drive has to be manually updated and then refreshed.
Content management software solutions can solve those issues by helping teams centrally manage content. A CMS built in the cloud can help ensure content is updated in real-time and across multiple screens from one location. However, difficulty in using a CMS is among the top three complaints of digital signage users. That’s why Skykit built our solution to be easy to set up and scale. A trusted CMS solution provider will help develop a tailored deployment strategy and provide expertise for installing your hardware.
Checking Your Internet Connection
How are you going to make it all work? One challenge to a successful implementation can be your internet connection. If your internet is unstable, your signage is unstable. Let’s take a look at three methods for connecting your solution.
WiFi connectivity can be a good solution for digital signage, but there are some factors to consider to ensure it is the best avenue for your organization.
- WiFi Bandwidth – Does your connection have the capacity to run your content effectively? If not, your content may not display well or not at all.
- Security Considerations – Security is critical as you don’t want your devices to be breached and risk your content being hacked. Be sure to check with your organization to ensure they will allow digital signage to be hosted on a secure network.
- WiFi Dead Spots – Sometimes you could have a location in your facility where the connection is spotty or not available. These locations are referred to as WiFi dead spots. Steel beams or thick concrete walls are a few possibilities that could contribute to the lack of a WiFi connection. Be sure to check ahead of time if a dead spot exists in the location where you plan to install your digital signage displays.
Connectivity via Ethernet can provide a more reliable internet connection. You will still need to pay attention to bandwidth and security issues, but concerns over a reliable signal are mitigated. However, it can be expensive or nearly impossible to run networking cable to the display, so talk with your signage provider about estimated costs.
An LTE connection can be a great option for digital signage, especially for locations in remote areas, WiFi may be spotty, or where running cable could be costly. Mobile-ready media players are available today to support this solution. Skykit offers a media player with support for LTE connectivity, the SKP Pro Mobile. It is authorized on the Verizon network and can easily broaden your reach without having to worry about individual WiFi networks.
Planning and Creating Great Content
While a digital signage solution makes it easy to manage the content that is displayed, the planning, creation, scheduling, and maintenance of content can prove challenging. These steps require people-power and creativity.
Gathering the involved teams at your organization to create quarterly content plans will help reduce any last-minute scrambles for content. It also reduces the opportunity for screens to show stale content and missed opportunities for strategic messaging.
A strong plan also helps ensure content is created strategically and on time. No one wants to see poorly designed content on an otherwise beautiful display.
Scheduling content ahead of time helps reduce the potential for errors. Looking ahead allows you to see any gaps in your content and make modifications before your display becomes a blank screen or displays a “Happy Birthday” message for 3 hours.
When considering your CMS tool, be sure to look for features that help keep your content fresh. Premium features such as real-time news feeds, weather, RSS feeds and social media reduce the burden on your content creators.
Planning to Overcome Digital Signage Challenges
Installing a digital signage network is a major undertaking.
In order to execute it effectively, you’ll need to spend significant time researching to make sure you choose the solutions that fit your company, purposes, and budget best. You’ll need to also make sure you have the resources necessary, from internet bandwidth, people-power, and processes for content creation and approval.
By planning now, you’re guaranteeing that you’ll get the best results possible from your digital signs. And later, when you’re cruising along towards increased profits, greater customer loyalty, stronger brand recognition, you’ll know that your hard work powered your success.