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An Overview of Digital Signage

Jul 16, 2008
As the cost of advertising continues to increase, companies are pursuing alternative methods for getting their message in front of people. Direct mail campaigns, billboards and buying space in magazines and newspapers are all still viable channels of marketing. However, advances in electronic broadcasting have opened the door to new, cost-effective options. Digital signage has quickly become a staple in the marketing budgets of companies of every size. Businesses have discovered that they can leverage their advertising reach by deploying these signs. Below, we'll describe the benefits of using digital signage, potential applications and how the technology can boost your ROI.

What Is Digital Signage?

At its simplest, digital signage is the use of multimedia displays for the purpose of broadcasting a message. The broadcast can be used for marketing objectives, customer service, or to communicate any type of information to an audience. Some solutions employ unsophisticated message boards. Others are deployed across a network of hundreds of plasma screens. In each case, the signs are typically controlled remotely by a computer. The messages that are broadcast onto the signs are programmed on the computer and can be changed instantly.

Benefits Of Using Digital Signage

Digital signage offers a number of attractive benefits. First, businesses are using the technology to expand their marketing reach. The costs of using the signs is often far less than purchasing advertising in other media (such as magazines). Second, the content that is displayed onto the signs can be modified within seconds. Because the content is controlled and broadcast remotely from a central computer, a broadcast to a network of hundreds of signs can be altered easily. Third, digital signage allows organizations to communicate messages that are designed to leverage consumer behavior. For example, a message can be broadcast to mall shoppers about a sale at one of the stores within the mall.

Ways To Apply The Technology

While many companies have been using digital signage for marketing purposes, it has several other applications. The technology can be used to communicate information. For example, airports can display "real time" data about arrival and departure times. The signs can also be used to reduce the cost of hiring employees. Rather than hiring people to manage a kiosk for answering customer questions, an interactive plasma screen can be a cost-effective alternative.

Digital signage is also being used increasingly within businesses in which customers wait for service. For example, restaurants can deploy signs that entertain those who are waiting for a table. Movie theaters can display movie trailers and ads for concession stand items for customers who are waiting to enter the theater. Theme parks use digital signage to help those who are waiting in line to pass the time. Companies are also beginning to take advantage of branding opportunities. Digital signs can be placed throughout a store or venue to constantly market that venue's brand, thereby encouraging customer loyalty.

Boosting ROI By Lowering Costs

One of the largest expenses for businesses is the cost of communicating with its audience. That communication includes advertising, brand-building, or simply distributing information to customers. Digital signage can increase a company's return on investment by reducing these costs. Advertising messages can be deployed dynamically from a centralized computer. A company's brand can be supported perpetually without the need to purchase magazine space. Digital signage can also replace employees to help customers with directions, product details and other information.

Businesses continue to realize the advantages of using digital signage to broaden their reach while lowering their cost of doing so. Meanwhile, the technology behind the medium continues to drive prices downward. As companies seek more cost-effective ways to market their products and communicate with their audiences, digital signs are likely to become a primary marketing channel.
About the Author
Four Winds Interactive is a leading provider of digital signage networks and software.
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