There is one thing about digital signage that, for whatever reason, always seems to be the subject of debate and discussion within corporations: who are the main users of digital signage systems, IT or Marketing? This is owing to the fact that digital signage systems display contents to an audience in physical spaces using a wide range of hardware.
These hardware devices have to be installed using physical elements and furthermore they usually come with networked configurations and installations, anti-theft security precautions and protection against cyberattacks, as well as maintenance and management of the physical layer that does not exist in other systems.
In other words, there is a high-tech element that requires a major input from IT teams to keep the system operative and this factor is removed from software and absolutely outside the remit of Marketing.
In addition, it is usually the case that many digital signage platforms are designed with technical teams in mind, and not for people whose mission is to look after the content. And so we find ourselves with a system that ultimately revolves around technology and not content.
As a result, we find the situation in many companies where it is actually the IT team who publishes and programs the content for the digital signage systems. If we were to follow this same logic, then Marketing and Communication departments should also send the contents of other CMS for web or social media to the IT department so that they could post them.
“But that’s content!” the IT directors respond whenever they are asked to do that.
So, the heads of Marketing and Communication departments have to take on board the fact that they are ultimately responsible for these platforms, and realize that just as they publish content in a webpage, they can also do the same in displays that their customers will see in real-life physical places.
Digital signage systems are evolving all the time and the tools they offer users are increasingly more sophisticated. Now they can even analyse the audience that visualizes the contents by gender, age and the time spent viewing them. When it is the IT department that publishes contents, then digital signage projects end up as a burden for everyone and a benefit for no one.
So the best strategy is for the Marketing officer or team in charge of publishing contents on webs, e-commerce, loyalty apps or social media to also be the team that publishes content in physical locations.
This strategy not only streamlines the publication of contents by reducing the reliance on other departments, but also entails a significantly more coherent communication given that it in the same team that publishes on all channels.
Digital signage allows the same content to be published in, for instance, an advertising network in search engines or social media, or for a banner to appear on the landing of a webpage and that the related content is also viewed on displays in the physical store, in such a way that it accompanies the customer throughout the whole journey from beginning to end.
In consequence, we can see that a digital signage system can be treated like any other tool for publishing online contents: it can handle the same audiovisual formats, the same resolutions (or even more spectacular effects using extra-large or asymmetric LEDs) and even measure the impact of these communications with ever greater accuracy.
In short, the same as we already find on online channels. So, seen in this light, the IT department should be responsible for keeping the infrastructure functioning correctly and in constant evolution so that the Marketing and Communication departments can focus on their strategies for content creation, publication of campaigns and analysis of effectiveness.
The boundary is thus better defined, but, having said that, as manufacturers of digital signage we cannot neglect the challenge of developing robust, agile and reliable solutions from the IT optic but we should never forget that our DNA also includes the development of better usability and user experience for Marketing. Bearing this in mind, we can come up with solutions to satisfy the whole range of users of digital signage systems.
Germán Talón, CTO at Nsign.tv*, a Spanish technological start-up based in Barcelona. Its digital signage platform won the 2021 AV Award for “Digital signage technology of the year”.