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Why a Digital Signage Strategy Needs a Content Management System

on November 17, 2015

Digital signage is only as good as the content it delivers. Content management systems act as the control, helping your content reach the right audiences.

Digital signage is everywhere we look today, transforming the world of retail and playing a major role in industries such as hospitality, transportation, healthcare, education, and financial services.

If you’re not up to speed on what the term “digital signage” actually defines, let’s go straight to the horse’s mouth: “Dynamic digital signage…is a specialized form of video broadcast aimed at a very nar-row niche audience in which video or multimedia content is displayed for informational or advertising purposes. A digital sign usually consists of a computer or playback device connected to a large, bright digital screen such as a commercial-grade LCD or plasma display.” International Sign Association (ISA)

According to a study released by the International Data Corporation (IDC), the digital signage market is predicted to grow almost 15 percent in the next five years. "The signage market is undergoing significant transformation," said Keith Kmetz, Vice President of IDC's Imaging, Printing and Document Solutions re-search. "Current digital signage implementations are producing significant value by enabling content that is changeable and interactive for its target audience. This new level of communication is an effec-tive broadcast medium that will continue to increase in usage.”

Using these digital consumer touchpoints makes it possible for any business to create more interactive, information-rich environments. After all, we are living in an increasingly digital world, and our attention tends to be drawn to, and held by, compelling and creative digital messages that, more and more, com-pel us to action.

How Are They Being Used?

We mentioned above the many industries being influenced by digital signage. Here’s a brief look at how they are being used. In retail, digital signage is being used as a means of reinventing traditional bricks and mortar stores, as well as the in-store, real-time customer experience. Instore digital signage allows for more efficient and effective shopping experiences, and is also an effective means to compete with eCommerce. In fast-food restaurants, they’re being used for menu systems and even self-ordering point of sale systems. In hospitality, as a cost-effective way to promote services on large properties. And in healthcare as well as financial settings, they provide information, entertainment, and communication functions.

However, according to Intel’s Market Segment Overview, “…the key to the success of a network of touchpoints lies not only in getting the right screens and processors but also in getting the right content. It’s critically important to ensure that the right information appears on the right screen at the right time.”

That’s the job of content management software.

What Is Content Management Software (CMS)?

“Think of your CMS as mission control for your digital signage network. Content management systems can be accessed using your computer in one of two ways, depending on your digital signage software provider,” says Ryan Gushue, of enplug.com. “Digital signage content management systems are essen-tially the control system for the content playing on your network.” According to Gushue, digital signage CMS systems typically allow you to:

• Browse, create and customize content.
• Create playlists.
• Schedule content.
• Monitor your network’s health and security.
• Identify screens and their locations.

Content management needs vary depending on the size of the network, number of screens, complexity of the content plan, and the range of locations. CMS systems can handle everything from simple set schedules to more complex requirement, like pulling in live Web feeds or varying the content shown in response to real-time input.

CMS systems today are available as SaaS (Software as a Service) subscriptions, which can include the subscription-based software, a media player, and an Internet-connected network, and as enterprise—or licensed—systems. Each has its benefits, with proponents of the SaaS systems promoting the cost sav-ings and accessibility, while supporters of enterprise systems are enthusiastic about customization op-tions and security from third-party intrusion. Future systems may evolve to include a hybrid of the SaaS and licensed technology, providing the best of both worlds.

And, as Intel states in its Market Segment Overview, “While the primary function of a CMS solution is to manage content, as digital signage and other intelligent systems evolve, other capabilities such as re-mote management/maintenance and the ability to gather audience measurement are growing in im-portance.”

Why are CMS Systems So Important?

Getting the right content displayed on the right property, for the right audience, at the scheduled time and for the appropriate amount of time is all part of an overall content marketing strategy. Without the systems to ensure that the content being displayed is as planned and scheduled, the impact of the dy-namic digital signage content can be substantially reduced or even discounted, dramatically reducing ROI.

In today’s busy world, we have an incredibly short time to make an impression, to grab—and then hold—someone’s attention. Posting the wrong message, the same message over and over again, or the right message to the wrong screen can have spectacularly bad results. Using a CMS system rules out much of the margin for error, and helps you ensure your content is being seen by the right people, and the right time.