So you want to venture into the land of digital signage. You’ve seen the benefits and you want a piece of it. The next step is to choose a digital signage software that is simple to use, makes sense, and gives you peace of mind moving forward.

As digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising, (or network digital advertising, or digital signage) has grown, so have the software options available to users.

The software you choose is a critical component that delivers your message to the masses. Your content needs to be dynamic and relevant in order to be effective.

Let’s take a deep dive into what attributes and levels of performance you should be looking for in digital signage software so you can make an educated decision when it comes time to buy.

1) Software Performance

There are two things to consider when looking at the performance of a software:

  1. Can it meet the increasing demands of your customers?
  2. Will it successfully deliver reliable video, images and other media to your screen?

If you want to target a specific audience at a specific time, look for software that has built-in targeting capabilities that enables it to launch specific relevant content – at the right time, to that audience – based on data it receives.

A great example of this is McDonald’s, the most popular fast-food chain in the world. McDonald’s uses digital software in their outdoor menu boards that monitors the temperature outside. When it’s cold or damp out, the menus will respond by recommending hot chili or coffee.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, it may launch content about chilled beverages or frozen treats when it’s 90 degrees outside.

Digital signage software that is tailored to intuit the demands of the consumer can radically increase the performance of any digital marketing campaign.

In retail, the same notion applies. Walmart, like McDonald’s, monitors data based on weather. It also monitors what kinds of products are in demand during the changing seasons.

The retail giant acts on weather data to boost store sales with store-level merchandising and hyperlocal digital advertising.

When heavy rain is expected in a specific zip code, the umbrellas come out, and when snow is expected in a different zip code, the snow shovels come out.

If you have a customer base that changes like the weather, software that enables this kind of targeting capability is invaluable..

2) Network Performance and Delivery

They say performance is everything, and in the digital signage industry, this is certainly true.

If you have great software but a lousy network to carry it, you’ve essentially got nothing.

The network you choose to integrate with your software needs to deliver attribution data without incident.

Attribution data is proof that your content was delivered to the right audience at the right time, with specific buying behaviors stored for future analysis. I’ll share more on that in a moment, but for now, let’s stick with network performance and delivery.

Why delivery is so crucial:

Many digital campaigns don’t just start on the big screen and stay on the big screen. With mobile phones as ubiquitous as they are, many digital campaigns rely on the transferability of data from digital displays to smartphones.

When advertisers create a campaign for specific products, they need to target the buyers of those products where they are. Thanks to the vast majority – 96 percent – of Americans being mobile phone users1, the consumer is accessible practically anywhere at any time.

Back in 2012, Best Buy was losing revenues to Amazon due to customers who would come into its stores and “shop” for items that they would then buy for less from the online behemoth2.

Instead of taking the billion-dollar blow, the big-box retailer fought back by instituting a price matching system and offering ‘special’ alerts on consumers’ smartphones. Customers were offered a discounted price if they purchased in-store and picked up in-store.

It worked.

In 2015, Best Buy indicated that up to four percent of their online traffic resulted in dead-end sales because they didn’t have the inventory needed in their distribution centers. The inventory, however, was available at other stores 80 percent of the time. Today, Best Buy physical stores serve as warehouses and distribution centers, using store inventory to fulfill online orders3. By offering ship-to options from other stores, their sales increased significantly.

A strong, reliable network that reliably delivers important data ensures retailers that their customers are being offered the products they need at the most optimal times..

3) Advanced Performance

Digital signage doesn’t need to be a stand-alone marketing campaign with the mere rotation of images and text. When digital signage was born this was common, but in the ensuing decades content – and the ways we can manage it – have become much more dynamic.

If you want to incorporate live social news feeds, interactive media, or touchscreen capabilities, you need advanced performance software. The software’s ability to integrate with third-party data providers is key.

But let’s take it a step further…

Imagine a software that allows your customers to “feel” the power of a digital sign.

Apolosophy Shampoo, a high-end line of hair care products in Sweden, used advanced hardware and software in a mind-blowing digital signage campaign in Stockholm by putting sensors into a digital screen on a subway platform. As the train pulled up to the platform, the sensors in the sign were activated, cueing a digital image of a woman on the screen to come alive,  her hair blowing out of place in time with the train arriving.

4) Customer Service Based

When determining which digital software to choose, consider a company where customer service is a priority. You’re likely to have a lot of questions that require thorough answers.

Some providers offer potential customers a comprehensive questionnaire so they can identify what they want to accomplish with their marketing campaigns.

This, in turn,  helps determine what they will need to accomplish with digital signage. Once this is  figured out, the vendor can recommend what kind of hardware and software is needed.

That’s customer service.

Most businesses or organizations approaching companies that provide digital hardware or software don’t understand the process, so it’s crucial to find someone that’s willing to give you the time to help you understand it.

5) Cloud-Based or On-Premise?

There are two primary kinds of digital software available to you:

  • Cloud-Based Digital Signage Software
  • On-Premise Digital Signage Software

Here is the difference between the two:

Cloud-based digital signage software is an “invisible” solution. There are no servers (of your own) required. All of your information is stored in the cloud.

In a nutshell, your commercial grade digital display screen sits in your store and the information fed to it comes directly from the content management system (CMS). This means the cloud hosts the content and automatically handles any software updates for you.

With On-premise digital signage software, you still have a commercial-grade screen in your store, but the information delivered to it comes from an on-site server –  a computer in a back room, or at corporate HQ, and content is sent to each store location individually.

In the latter case, you host the software and handle your own software updates.

So which one do you need?

It’s difficult to find a company that shouldn’t go with a cloud-based solution.

Most companies want software that updates automatically, requires no maintenance, offers support, and doesn’t require server racks in a back room. They also look for digital signage software that has little to no learning curve, drag-and-drop capabilities, and offers a variety of templates to work from.

This also means they want to lessen the IT load, which would make the cloud-based software the best option for them.

Conclusion

Determining which digital signage software is best for your organization doesn’t have to be complex. Once you’ve determined the various ways you want to use the functionality, as well as your budget, ask yourself these questions:

What is the message you want to convey?

Do you need your audience to interact?

Do you require advanced options to support a social media feed or other interactive media?

Do you have a third-party data provider that you need to integrate?

Now you’re ready to look into a few different options and ask some questions. Remember, this is your campaign. Understanding the solution you choose is the first step to a dynamic digital signage campaign.

1. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/mobile/
2. https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/amazon-almost-killed-best-buy-then-best-buy-did-something-completely-brilliant.html
3.https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2018/06/07/best-buy-rising-from-ashes-to-lead-new-retail-paradigm/#544f1649b443