Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Digital Signage Need to Know: Boiling Down the 7 Key Elements of Digital Signage

There are a million lists that define "Must Haves", "Absolute Requirements", "Sage Industry Advice" and "Never Dispute These Points" in our LED sign world today. Promises are made and assurances are given and specifications are sworn to and sealed with a few drops of the CEO's blood before the project is shipped.

So many claims, so little time. How does a Sign Company wade through all the hyperbole and overstatements and make the correct choice when selecting an LED display manufacturer?

It's hard to trust anyone or their claims made . Even Holiday Season claims are in doubt 'He's making a list, checking it twice, going to find out who's naughty or nice!" How did he do this? A phone tap or CCTV installed in a kid's room? No, more than likely just a way to try and control the behavior of an unruly child for 364 days per year.

But, borrowing from the spooky 1990's, American TV show the X-Files- "The truth is out there!"

In the LED Sign Industry, the holy grail of reasonableness regarding LED sign selection is called "The 7 Key Elements of Digital Signage".  This list is embraced by the Digital Signage Federation and the list makes a lot of obvious sense:

1. Hardware
2. Software
3. Connectivity
4. Content
5. Operations
6. Design
7. Business

During a recent MSSA (Mid-South Sign Association) seminar mentored by Brian Gorg, Director of the Digital Sign Federation, he suggested focusing on just 2 of these elements rather than all 7. The assumption is made that top manufacturers all execute at a high level with respect to hardware having had many years to refine their product. What then to focus on?

Brian suggested that Software and Content were perhaps the top 2 of the 7 Key Elements. Adding to these 2 elements he further suggested that "Partnering" was an additional component to consider.  The following is my review of these elements:

Software: Cloudware, Cloud-based software is the future. No need to store, edit, constantly update software and waste time with antiquated systems. What about simplicity? Plug and play is not quite a reality yet, but it's a lot closer than just a couple years ago. Speed? Reliability? Yes, and more yes!

There are superior choices available in the marketplace- do your research but state-of-the-art software is now a reality.

Content: Many end-users buy an expensive LED sign and then run poorly produced content. In the early days, when LED signs first hit the streets, their uniqueness and rarity brought a lot of attention to any business running any message. Even a gray-scale (monochrome) LED display used to attract a lot of attention even without animation or graphics. This is not so true today. Great content is must to deliver on the economic promise of the LED sign. What manufacturer provides content as part of standard offering?

Much debate also exists as to "great" content. If you are an end-user, skilled in making world-classs pizzas, and your 9-year old gifted son, a master of Photoshop provides you with and example of "great" content, it may or may not be all "that great"! Professionally produced content, using USA designers and digital artists, is the way to produce consistent and high impact content!

Partnering: Trust is the key word. Is your manufacturer committed to making your Sign Company an outrageous success by doing end-user demos and not selling their LED sign directly to your customer and "allowing" you to install it? What about listening to your issues, responding quickly to changing business conditions and having engineering talent available to support you?

The 7 Key Elements of the Digital Sign Industry are comprehensive and are a good source of reference. The assumption that only 2 (or so) of the  Key Elements are vital is based on the assumption (again) that you are working with a top supplier. First you have to identify and select a top supplier. If you are still importing or trying to find some miracle LED sign product that gives you world-class quality at a deeply discounted price then then you need to study all 7 Key Elements and perhaps another dozen or so before buying anything. There is a difference in suppliers.

The truth is still out there and is easy to find. The "Googler" awaits! But don't stop there. Call manufacturers and speak to real people. Ask to speak to and engineer and find someone to verify and validate how they support the 7 Key Elements.

Execute due diligence or discover the phrase "Caveat Emptor", let the buyer beware, the hard way.

Check it out!

These comments belong to me, Mike Prongue, and do not reflect the views, opinions, hopes or dreams of anyone else, anywhere else and this includes Vantage LED. I appreciate your constructive opinion which may be sent to me at 


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