By David Little
Corporations, governments and other institutions are all casting an introspective eye at how their operations affect the environment. This effort has included assessing the consequences of creating and displaying graphics and other communications materials for the public.
In this respect, digital signage can help these organizations minimize their environmental impact, so long as specific steps are taken to ensure networks are deployed in an ‘eco-friendly’ manner. This involves following strategies that are also, as it happens, wise business decisions.
When compared to printed graphics, digital signage may be considered far ‘greener.’ Messaging can be updated easily, eliminating the need to print new signs over and over. The fewer the signs produced, the fewer the physical resources used, including printable substrates made of papers or plastics, along with inks and chemical coatings. And cutting out the need to replace printed graphic waste eliminates the need for the energy required to recycle or dispose of them.
As mentioned, going green with digital signage not only reduces the environmental impact of communicating with the public, but also makes good business sense. While it may seem surprising, digital communications can indeed be less expensive than their printed counterparts. And that which makes digital signs less expensive than print is also what makes them more environmentally friendly.
What ties these goals together is the ability of digital signage to display countless messages, which would inherently require innumerable printed signs. A casino, for example, might rely on backlit translucent posters to promote entertainment, performances and specials, but given the sheer quantity of signs needed to tell patrons about frequently changing features, digital signage could prove a more cost-effective alternative. After all, with digital signs, updating promotions, ads and other on-screen content is simply a matter of a few computer keystrokes.
Equally important is eliminating the need to produce the translucent plastic films and specialized inks required for those printed backlit signs, which would otherwise raise the question of proper disposal. Digital signage answers that question before it is even raised, since nothing needs to be recycled or thrown away after a message expires.
Of course, the specific types and costs of printed signs will determine when digital signage—with its higher upfront expenses—can reach the financial breakeven point. In the example of a high-volume signage user like a casino, though, it can be in two years or less.
Related to this comparison of cost benefits between printed and digital signage is measuring ‘message per meter.’ Digital signage, by its nature, can play back multiple pages of content, one after another, in an endless sequence. In this sense, it is much like a TV channel with a full lineup of entertainment, news, commercials and other content.
It is almost silly to guess how printed signs could do anything similar, even if they wallpapered the entire planet. Digital signage is the clear winner in achieving the most messages per meter. In a retail setting, by way of example, this means more goods and services can be promoted per unit of wall space, which in turn should positively affect sales.