Digital Signage Systems: The Ultimate 101 Guide

Faith Ngaruiya
March 20, 2024

What is digital signage?

Digital signage refers to display technologies like LED, LCD, or OLED screens that display dynamic content such as text, images, video, interactive media, and live-streaming content using specialized software. These flexible screens are common in outdoor public settings like Times Square as high-impact billboards. Their indoor uses improve consumer experience and communication in retail, restaurants, modern office buildings, healthcare facilities, transport hubs, and educational and religious organizations. One notable benefit of signage technology is its high operational efficiency, especially in managing and playing content.

What is a digital signage system?

A digital signage system is a network of displays powered by software that facilitates creating, managing, and playing multimedia material for advertising or informational use. Public and commercial places employ these systems to engage and inform viewers. This system comprises three main parts: hardware, Content Management software (CMS), and content.


Digital signage hardware consists of:

Display screen: This screen displays information and can be used as a signage media player. Many businesses prefer commercial-grade screens for their durability and excellent display quality.

Signage player: The signage media player plays content on the screen.

Mounting hardware: Screens are mounted on walls or suspended from ceilings using brackets and cables.

Digital signage software

Key features include:

Content management system (CMS)

A content management system (CMS) is software that enables users to create, manage, and edit content on a website without requiring technical expertise. Its main features are scheduling content, remote screen management, supporting many media types (JPG, MP4, HTML, HTTPS), integration with other systems, creating custom layouts, and ensuring content is displayed well on all devices.

Cloud for content management

You can host the CMS on your private data center (on-premise digital signage) or the cloud. Cloud deployment simplifies server infrastructure management, regional content distribution, and scalability.

Digital sign content

Content can be a live newscast or a pre-made promotional video. Electronic signs can display photographs, social networking posts, text messages, YouTube videos, website content, live traffic, sales dashboards, and RSS feeds.

How does a digital signage system work

User actions

  • Login into the CMS dashboard.
  • Connect display panels to the CMS for content management
  • Upload specific data from local storage or apps. Signage software may include design tools and free templates for quick content generation.
  • Arrange the content to fit the screen dimensions
  • Select the screen and publish.

System Operations

  • User commands are sent to the central server, which may be cloud-based or on-premises.
  • The digital signage player retrieves content from the server.
  • The player's software displays the content.

Types of digital signage

Different modes of digital signs vary by screen orientation, application, size, and content playback capabilities. Here are some examples depending on applications:

DOOH advertising displays

DOOH advertising displays are contemporary billboards that rent space for advertisements. They are strategically positioned outdoors to ensure optimal visibility despite their varying sizes. For instance, a DOOH display could be a big digital billboard positioned over a highway or a smaller screen at a bus stop.

Digital standees

Digital standees are LCD panels used in high-traffic places like hotel lobbies and hospital receptions. These displays can play high-resolution videos, images, or animations, making them an effective marketing tool for public areas like retail stores, movie theaters, event venues, and museums.

Digital menu boards

Digital menu boards are electronic displays updating how restaurants and cafes showcase their products. They perform multiple functions, such as displaying digital posters, broadcasting notices, welcoming guests, and guiding interactive kiosks.

Immersive displays

Immersive displays, often larger than regular digital signs, come in many sizes to improve the watching experience by offering elements such as 3D content, simulations, and virtual reality, creating a realistic visual experience. During the past decade, there has been substantial progress in digital display technology. The market currently provides various screen kinds to meet different needs and tastes.

Video walls

Video walls consist of several screens joined together to create a large display surface, acting as a cohesive 'collage of displays.' They provide high-resolution images and are commonly used to display media on a large scale. For instance, a museum's digital video wall provides interactive, high-resolution representations of historical artifacts and timelines, giving visitors an immersive educational experience.

Electronic shelf labels

Electronic signs called shelf labels are attached to product shelves to provide customers with information such as pricing, discounts, or specifications. Digital or electronic shelf labels are slim panel screens that perform the same function. Due to their dynamic nature, they can effectively employ screen space to display additional details such as expiration dates and ingredients for food or cosmetic products, warranty information for gadgets, and more.

Interactive displays

Interactive displays are screens that allow consumers to engage with the device through physical interaction. They often come in the form of self-service kiosks and digital information booths. Interactive digital signage is commonly used for self-ordering menu boards, airport self-check-in systems, digital resources in museums, and interactive wayfinding maps.

What are the benefits of digital signage?

Digital signage is a technology with a high return on investment. Although many business owners may worry that the expense of owning these systems is excessive, the reality is quite the opposite. Accrued returns make these digital assets a valuable complement to any organization.

Enhances audience engagement

When clients are engaged in your products or services, they may become loyal. This is why most companies give customers all the information they need to feel comfortable. Electronic signage allows you to display digital product catalogs, availability, pricing, discounts, membership options, and other pertinent information. An interactive display will enable customers to explore their preferred products and make informed choices.

Gain exposure

Electronic signage displays can attract a broader audience and viewers. Digital screens have excellent resolution and are easily visible from a distance. They draw attention faster than conventional signboards.

Easy and convenient to handle

Customers' demands and preferences constantly evolve, necessitating a flexible approach rather than a fixed plan. One significant advantage of digital signage is the ability to customize the displays to suit your needs. If you own a restaurant or motel, it is necessary to adjust the cost periodically. The conventional menu board system cannot make real-time adjustments, reducing efficiency. Digital signage allows for easy and quick content updates.

Leave a lasting impression

Human memory tends to remember visual materials such as videos and images better than textual information. It is crucial to provide customers with something stimulating their intention to purchase. Digital signage efficiently delivers your message. Customers are more inclined to recall an advertisement displayed on a digital billboard when looking to buy a similar product. Digital signs are ideal for marketing and promotional operations due to their combination of captivating content, lively images, and interactive movement.

Make wait-time comfortable

Waiting at a store can frustrate customers since idle time feels wasted. However, seeing a popular music video on the store's displays makes waiting for more fun. They may be watching the video for the first time or finally having time. Long queues can affect consumers’ shopping experience. Digital signage can entertain and engage consumers, reducing wait times and improving satisfaction.

Powerful analytics for better judgments

Integrating analytics systems maximizes the benefits of digital displays by providing customer engagement insights, tracking sales data, and suggesting improvements. Screen software and corporate Intelligence (BI) solutions can provide valuable corporate planning insights.

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