Understanding the different types of digital signage content so that you can find out what’s right for you at minimal expense
Digital signage’s greatest strength is its versatility – it’s capable of presenting almost any type of content. Whichever display you choose, you’re able to hook it up to a wide range of devices, from a DVD player to a computer, dedicated content management system or USB drive, giving you the choice of delivering content in a wide variety of formats.
In this post, we’re going to look at two main types of content: the first is looping video and slideshow content that’s delivered via a USB thumb drive – all good digital signage units should support this. The second type is dynamic, automatically updated and multi-channel content, which requires a display that supports connections via a network or using an OPS module.
The simple option
Basic, non-interactive video, audio and images are best delivered via a FAT32 formatted USB flash drive, which can be plugged discreetly into the back of your digital signage unit. A wide range of media formats are supported: AVI, MP4, MOV and MPG video; MP3, AC3, WMA, M4A, AAC and AC3 audio, and JPEG, BMP and GIF images.
This type of content can be prepared on your office desktop or laptop using easily available tools, such as Windows Movie Maker for video, Photoshop for images or PowerPoint, which allows you to mesh video, images and other content together in a dynamic, looping presentation, exported as a movie. Using a program like this makes it straightforward to manually update your content on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis – simply remove the flash drive from your unit and connect it to your computer, then export an updated version of your content to the drive before plugging it back in the next day.
Armed with these content-creation tools, all you need to do is come up with ideas for delivering content to your customers: you could, for example, use a video advertisement to plug your latest new product, or use a series of slides to sell services such as your hotel’s room service, laundry facilities or concierge. You might want to simply display pertinent information for your customers – such as opening times or location of key amenities, such as the toilets or a map of your venue to help people find their way around.
Discover the digital signage that could help your business stand out from the crowd
It’s easy to think of a USB drive as a rudimentary delivery system, but with the huge amounts of memory available – up to a terabyte of RAM – you can store many hours of HD video and thousands of high-res images. The main downside is the need for manual updates and inability to schedule content in advance, as outlined in our previous post.
If you’re able to connect an Open Pluggable Specification (OPS) module to the back of your digital signage unit, then it opens it up to receive all kinds of content. This includes dynamically updated information from networked sources, including the internet.
The simplest way to manage this content is with the help of a dedicated content service provider. DigitalSignage.com offers a free MediaCloud product that allows you to divide your display into separate ‘channels’, then feed different types of content to each channel. Think of it like watching a 24-hour news channel, with scrolling news feeds and useful snippets of information sitting alongside a main content screen. It’s simple to use and administer – just drag, drop and select your content on to a timeline. You can also manage multiple ‘campaigns’, enabling you to build different content for different audiences and screens, or to run at a specific time of day.
MediaCloud supports both basic and dynamic content – the latter are components that can be used to display a variety of content: RSS news and media feeds, grids and charts, a clock, weather forecast and even pages from other web sites.
Armed with this tool you could have one channel showing off your latest special offers, while another displays a rolling series of news headlines. A third could link to the latest local traffic news or weather forecast – if the signage is placed where people are stuck in a queue, not only does it provide them with something to occupy their time, it also puts your products front and centre.
Ultimately digital signage’s wide support for content formats and types make it good for just about anything you want to throw at it. In our next blog post, we’ll reveal the tips and tricks you need to deliver content that won’t just turn people’s heads, but keep their attention too.
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