Digital Sign Player Health Monitoring

Posted by on Jul 5, 2011 in DOOH

I wrote sometime ago about how all-in-one signage displays would eventually be the norm. This idea may somewhat negate the fact that a player is still present, but we can’t forget the importance of the digital sign player. It is in keeping the player in the forefront of our minds that I craft this post. Many electronic sign operators take a “install it and leave it” approach to their network. They like to create the content, install the display and the player and then walk away, but this is not the best methodology for management. Displays and players if they are to perform to their utmost potential need monitoring and regular “check-ups.”

Monitoring Player Performance

Some digital signage software applications allow, not only for player tracking and health monitoring, but also proof of play reporting–giving content managers a way to judge whether content was played on a “running” display and how often said content made its appearance. If there is anything worse than poor content, that’s no content at all (well, I guess that’s not always true, but it’s certainly a good generality). So, when a player goes down, it is detrimental in several ways:

1. It hurts the network being served. The network where the content is being played is certainly effected by player outages. It’s costly for reputation. It’s costs monetarily.

2. It hurts advertisers, if there are any, displaying their content on the screen. This can hit the pocketbook and create some pretty angry customers if you are running an ad network.

3. It’s detrimental to the venue’s reputation. I was in an airport doing some traveling sometime ago. There was a large digital sign network installed throughout the terminals. The only working signage available was the signage displaying the arrivals and departures. All the blank screens really looked ridiculous. I’m not sure what the issue was there, but it certainly was not what I would call a “high-quality” network.

4. It hurts the reputation of the industry. A failure for one of us is a failure for us all.

What to do about it…

The mantra, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” could adequately apply here. But what do we do when something goes wrong and we’re 3,000 km from the player? Apart from getting an actual human being to check the device, we can start by attempting to perform a VNC (Virtual Network Compute) remote desktop into the device. If this does not help us detect the problem, then it is prudent to have someone take a look at the unit. There are any number of scenarios that could have taken place with the sign player. It could have been kifed by some derelict delinquent, someone may have bumped the installation, a power surge could have taken place (hopefully protection was implemented to prevent this one), or perhaps the player simply gave up the ghost. Whatever the cause of the players failure or demise, having it down for too long is costly–especially if revenue is dependent on content. Content dependence is most readily evident in the case of advertising networks.

I know overuse of the aphorisms probably is unneeded, but I feel like blurting another: “an ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure.” In the case of player monitoring, this is certainly true. It often costs networks much more (see the 4 points above) for networks to revive a dead player than it ever does to prevent it by putting the proper safeguards in place.

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