Traditionally, digital signage has been just that–traditional. A typical deployment would include a standard sign player (some external PC) an LCD screen, internet and some slammin’ content. Fortunately or unfortunately–as the case may be–there are shifts afoot that I predict will end up changing the digital signage industry into something a bit unrecognizable from its roots. That is, when it comes to displays there are changes and advances which are altering views toward what would have been considered a “traditional” digital signage deployment.
Here are a few reasons why:
- The cost per square inch. When it comes to space, commercial displays typically cost more per square inch than many tablet computers, meaning you can install several tablets taking up a greater overall swath of patrons’ eye share, but at a smaller cost. It’s a no-brainer.
- No media player required. Whether you enjoy embedded players or some type of external small form-factor PC (or even a Apple Mac Mini), they become a relic and unneeded component of your deployment. Even cheap Android digital signage players are no longer needed.
- Interactivity is included. We’re always touting the benefits of interactive digital signage here on the blog. The issue with traditional signage turned interactive is that it increases the costs for both content and hardware (usually with a touchscreen LCD) by hundreds and even thousands, depending on the type of display you procure. Not so with a tablet, the interactivity comes standard, making it a tough competitor.
- Great @ mobility. So, you don’t like where your current display is mounted? Want to try something new? Interested in testing a new location for your display(s) to see whether the effectiveness of your conversions could improve? Doing so with a tablet is less intrusive, costly and time-sensitive than with a traditional large-format LCD.
- Content is simple. Because the display is smaller, the content can–and needs to be–much more simple. Simple is good because it can often be better at attracting attention. More importantly, simple content is less expensive and thus allows for greater and more broad adoption of the technology, especially as content becomes the driving force behind most digital signage.
There certainly are some downsides. The most glaringly obvious is that of security. Because of the size, it’s much easier for a tablet to “walk off” without anyone noticing. Keeping the devices on lock-down is possible, but certainly more difficult than traditional signage. In addition, those that use tablets for interactivity, especially if they’re used in a restaurant setting, will be more prone to getting dirty–very dirty. A current client of ours complained of the “greasiness” of his tablets after only a few hours of use by the patrons. People who’re eating also tend to have hands more oily than a typical customer. Hence, one must consider the time spent cleaning of the displays that are intended to be used as interactive devices.
There is no silver bullet or blanket statement that would prove a fix-all for the industry. However, there are trends ebbing and flowing which could rapidly move what would have been considered traditional to the far end of the bell curve. Such is creative destruction as technology advances and preferences change.