What is Digital Signage Software?
Digital signage is the use of electronic screens to display information or marketing messages. Digital signage has replaced paper signage in many industries, ranging from restaurant menus, road signage, outdoor advertising, or even interactive wayfinding. Digital Signage Software enables users to manage their digital signage content and electronic media players.
Digital Signage Software helps users create and schedule content, organize and manage hardware screens, and monitor and troubleshoot media screens and playback issues. The software is generally divided into four main components: software that resides on a media player, content management/distribution software (CMS), device management software, and content creation software.
There are many benefits to implementing digital signage. Digital signage increases opportunities for advertising, eliminates printing costs for marketing materials, can generate third party advertising income, and does a better job at attracting attention and awareness for brands or businesses. Since some vendors specialize in certain industries, a plug and play solution may already exist for your needs.
Digital Signage Features and Capabilities
Many Digital Signage Software vendors offer integrated solutions that include media player software, a CMS, device management software, and content creation software. However, some offer only one or some combination of the above capabilities.
In addition to the capability specific features listed below, you will want a product with remote management of displays and content, user access controls, basic security features, and training and tech support.
Media Player Features and Capabilities
Media players decode digital files and display the digital content on screens. Basic media player software features enable the user to:
Stream content via a network connection
Alternately, download content locally for streaming, which prevents media interruption in the case of network issues
Track and monitor playback content
Report on the health of the display
Ability to interrupt content for emergency messages
Content Management or Distribution (CMS) Features and Capabilities
Content Management or Distribution Software (CMS) manages, schedules, and distributes the content to be delivered to the media player software. Desired functionality should include:
Tools to organize and upload content
Ability to run content on a single display or synchronize across multiple displays, creating zones when necessary
Offer multiple types of content management: scripted, playlist, and hybrid
Scripted content is managed by rules: how, when, and where each type of content plays
Playlists run content in a predefined list, similar to song playlists
Hybrid scheduling allows you to do both types of content scheduling
Cloud based CMS so a single or entire network of screens can be managed remotely
Device Management Features and Capabilities
Device Management Software collects information on the media player. Basic features include:
Reports on the health of the media player
Can manage the media players, including tools to reboot systems, update firmware and update software
Capture screenshots of what is playing on the media player
Content Creation Features and Capabilities
Content Creation Software allows you to create and design the actual content that will be displayed on the screen. Some tools provide the design features while others integrate with market design tools, such as Canva. Basic Content Creation Software should include the following capabilities:
Create content with graphics and text
Create static or dynamic content
Integration capabilities with content applications, such as social media platforms, flight information, news feeds, and more
The cost of Digital Signage Software is quite complex, depending on how many capabilities it includes and if the vendor bundles the software with hardware screens. Standalone content creation software tends to charge per display per month, anywhere from $0 to $10 per month. Media player software can sometimes be purchased with a one time fee. Standalone content management software can be found for free with a hardware purchase of digital screens.
Multi-capability software products usually charge per connected device and per license. Some require a contract. In this scenario, expect to pay between $18 to $250 per month per device and per license. Ultimately, it is best to work with the vendor to determine the pricing scheme based upon your individual needs.