2. Failing to define objectives before deployment
By clearly defining goals at the start, it becomes possible to determine how results will be measured and analyzed over time. Otherwise, a digital signage network can get locked into a cycle of stopping and restarting to accommodate changes in direction.
Many first-time digital signage clients do not have clear objectives at the beginning for what they want to do, the type of messages they want to present and the resources they will dedicate to create content. Frequently, they need to be encouraged to determine these specific requirements. One size does not fit all when it comes to digital signage platforms.
One reason this process is important is to avoid disappointment later on if content is not displayed correctly. The reasons for such problems vary. Sometimes, clients do not understand how many frames per second (FPS) are required for video and Flash content to appear smoothly. They may assume they can use a media player with a basic processor, only to find it cannot play large files or stream video seamlessly.
To avoid such disappointment, they should begin with a thorough analysis of their needs, identifying what types of content will be displayed—e.g. static images, video, Rich Site Summary (RSS) feeds, live TV broadcasts, etc.—on how many displays in which locations, plus whether that content will be the same on all of the screens or different from one to another. Messaging may serve one or more of the following purposes:
- Sales uplift—Content designed to increase sales is of interest to retailers, food-service providers and banks, among other organizations.
- Brand messaging—In many cases, digital signage is deployed to help enhance the reputation of a business.
- Entertainment—Retailers and other organizations recognize how their own customers hate long lineups. By giving them something to look at, via digital signage, they are able to reduce percepted wait times.
- Internal communications—Digital signage also can be used to support internal communications for corporations, governments and institutions, displaying messages to help boost morale, recognize achievements and support organizational processes.
- Public messaging—By pushing video and audio to screens in areas where people tend to gather, digital signage is well-suited for keeping the general public aware of local services and time-sensitive information, such as emergency evacuation orders.
- Third-party advertising—Some clients sell all or some of their screens’ space to third parties.
It is also essential to know at the beginning if the system will need to be interactive. If so, the system could require local inputs for touch screens or interfaces with external hardware, such as card readers or point-of-sale (POS) systems.
The network configuration will also have an effect on the ability to support applications and achieve specific objectives. It could be a local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN) or wholly Internet-based.