what is digital signage

Digital signage is one of those fruits of technology that makes almost everything about business work better. At its most basic level, digital signage is just that–a monitor that displays pictures and words for visitors, employees and customers to see and read. But as we will discuss further on, digital signage is also a way to interact with them in previously unimaginable ways, especially in times of crisis, such as Covid-19.

An Example to Build a Dream On

Many businesses, such as quick-serve restaurants, have signs that change often, typically with seasonal menu updates or pricing adjustments. Occasionally, a whole menu panel will have to be thrown away and replaced, which one assumes is a massive undertaking – not to mention a massive waste producer and cost considerations.

When a global crisis hits home, changes may need to happen in the moment. This can include store hours, short-term operational changes, product offerings, cultural shifts or processes and general news about the company itself.

No need to ship kits of paper signage weeks or months in advance with instructions detailing when and how to change them out. With digital signage, communication updates can happen in real-time.

Below is a high-level introduction to the (surprisingly simple) digital signage technology and how it can be used to help virtually any business.

What is Digital Signage? The Signal Flow

Working backwards, the most obvious piece of hardware associated with digital signage is the display screen. If your business is a small dental office, you may be able to get away with just one display screen.

The display screen is connected to a media player (via HDMI, Bluetooth, etc.). The media player can be a garden-variety computer or tablet, or a dedicated machine of its own. What type of media player works best depends on individual needs.

The display screen is connected to a media player (via HDMI, Bluetooth, etc.). The media player can be a garden-variety computer or tablet, or a dedicated machine of its own. What type of media player works best depends on individual needs.

The content can be created on and uploaded from virtually any design platform–

That’s it–thankfully, the idea isn’t very complicated. The content is created using whatever medium suits, the content is uploaded to a CMS, the CMS tells the player to start playing, and the screen shows what the player feeds it, via whatever connection happens to be in place.

The All-Important Content

What is digital signage without beautiful, diverse digital content? Once you have your initial handle on the nuts and bolts of it–the how–most of your attention will be spent on the content–the what.

If you have marketers in-house who are proficient in visual communications, content creation will be their job, keeping up with scheduling and keeping it fresh is a challenge. Otherwise, you’ll want to work with your integrator to start a content subscription service with your digital signage supplier. For a fixed monthly or yearly fee, you can keep your digital signage showing fresh, cutting-edge marketing material without having to dedicate any more time to it than a few minutes every so often to pass along relevant content updates for creation and scheduling.

What Can We Do with It?

The applications to dream about are multiplying. Even the answers to the question “what is digital signage?” are multiplying. This is no longer just a replacement for the white light-box at the gas station down the street. It’s a new way to do business.


Instead of old-style wall calendars, group signup sheets, corkboards, whiteboards, and overhead projectors that fade, tear, need erasing, and–worst of all–aren’t searchable, we can install an interactive, touchscreen display to consolidate all of that and more into one simple, elegant, centrally accessible place.

Video Wall

One of the most compelling trends in digital signage technology currently is the video wall. Instead of a single TV screen in the waiting room, we can create an entire wall of content, Times-Square-style, fascinating patients and giving them something to tell everyone about after they leave.

Social Media Wall

This is a way to take audience questions, hold response-based contests, gauge feedback and add an entirely new dimension to public presentations in real time, with or without moderating what appears on the screen.

Data Capture

Because it’s all digital and recordable, we can capture data and even metadata on every interaction with a digital sign–even every glance at it! Are people looking at your advertisements? What route do customers’ eyes usually travel when they read your menu? Do more women or men respond to Starbucks’ new menu boards?

Wrapping Up: What is Digital Signage?

Digital signage is a platform from which to communicate with customers, potential customers, and each other in ways that have never been possible before. It’s a screen, a connection to a media player, and some software; no matter the application, those four ultra-basic elements are all it takes to bring to life your most far-out imaginings of what to display to the world.

We can use it to make old types of sign-based marketing more effective, simplify group coordination, interact with people in any country in real time, and flabbergast whole rooms of people–all while capturing incredibly detailed and actionable data and metadata on how well our tactics are working.

Click here to talk with an expert in the field and find out how to make this life-altering technology work for you and your business.

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