Are you thinking about using narrowcasting in your organization? Or are you not satisfied with your current narrowcasting system? Make sure you know what you are looking for so you make the right choice immediately.
If it later turns out that you should have opted for a different software provider, switching will take time and effort. So it is best to invest a little time and get informed.
This article, aims to help you choose the right digital signage software!
What is digital signage? First of all, a short reminder about what digital signage is. We use the following definition:
“Digital signage is the collective name for everything that has to do with public TV screens, LED signs, and the like - indoors and outdoors. It is also often referred to as "digital out of home" (DOOH). Digital signage is used to communicate directly with a local audience with a single message or series of messages.”
Digital signage is a means for both internal and external communication.
You can read more about this on the page: what is digital signage?
Do you need digital signage software? You may wonder if you need digital signage software. For example, we regularly hear the question: "what is the advantage of digital signage over PowerPoint?". Understandable because the basis of PowerPoint is also suitable for narrowcasting purposes. In theory, you should not need a digital signage platform.
In practice, however, setting up such a narrowcasting system yourself entails the necessary disadvantages. For example, you spend a lot of time preparing your slides, have minimal functionality (such as missing content scheduling), and cannot use dynamic content. In addition, keeping your content up-to-date is labor-intensive and error-prone, and security and reliability often leave much to be desired.
So there are a lot of advantages to using a dedicated digital signage platform. It is almost always smarter and cheaper for smaller companies to choose a specific digital signage service.
7 Tips for choosing a narrowcasting system
But what do you pay attention to when choosing this software? What should the software be capable of, and what are the other features that play a role?
We have listed the most important 7 tips!
An important factor is, of course, Usability**. After all, you will have to work with it and regularly keep the content up-to-date, sometimes even daily. Nobody is waiting for a complex technical management environment. Choose a software provider that allows you to work with a clear dashboard and simple tools, such as visual drag-and-drop editors. This way, everyone can work with the software, and the management of digital signage in your organization does not depend on a specific person. Choosing a software package that allows you to set a corporate identity that automatically applies to each slide is also advisable. This way, you ensure uniformity on the different screens, and implementing organization-wide changes later is easy.
2. On-premise or cloud
When choosing software, you have two choices: on-premise or in the cloud. In ordinary human language, this means: do you choose to install the software on your computer, or do you operate the software via a web browser? For many organizations - especially smaller ones - it is advisable to opt for software in the cloud. Digital signage software in the cloud has several advantages, such as:
- You don't have to worry about security yourself
- The software is automatically updated
- You can use the software anywhere and on any computer; simply manage your screen content in a browser
The downside, of course, is that you have little say in the design and security of the software itself. Therefore choose a provider that fits your needs well, has good reviews, and has an excellent eye for security.
Not everyone immediately thinks of good security when choosing software. However, you would certainly not want your screen content hacked and all screens in your organization taken over by malicious parties. Certainly, with cloud software, it is therefore wise to check in advance that security is adequate and fits your needs.
Almost every digital signage setup uses data from external sources. Think of the weather forecast, the latest news, social media messages, or traffic information. Consider in advance which sources you want to use. Does the software support these sources? And how easy is it to integrate the data into your screen content? Investigate this at the various providers and list what is or is not a deal breaker for you. In addition to the 'standard apps' such as the weather forecast or the news, external sources also include files or spreadsheets in Dropbox, Google Docs, or Office365. In addition, some platforms also offer opportunities to show the content of sources you choose. For example, in Bizplay, you can create apps that display information from JSON or XML files.
Using external sources ensures that your content is always topical and exciting. In addition, using external sources means you spend much less time manually updating your pages, making life much easier!
5. Playlists vs. scripted programming
A less often exposed detail is the distinction between playlists and scripted programming. Again, this is not equally relevant for everyone, but it is good to know before you make a choice.
- Playlists are the use of a set of slides. The slides are shown one after the other as a continuous slide show until the playlist ends.
- Scripted programming is pre-programming specific slides (or sets of slides) based on conditions or rules. For example, you can set it to show a particular slide an x number of times at a specific time of day on specific days of the week.
Using playlists is sufficient for most organizations. With playlists, you can almost always use a schedule to show certain content at a specific time and location. However, do you want more control, or do you have a lot of content that you want to show in varying ways? In that case, choose software that allows for scripted programming. Even better if both options are supported so your usage can grow with the amount of content you create.
6. Service and support
You hope to use it as little as possible, but service and support are often inevitable. Because what do you do when you get stuck? Correct: you read the software's documentation or ask the service provider. It is nice if you can count on clear instructions and personal support. It may not be the first thing you think of when choosing a provider, but we advise you to consider this in your choice. This way, you avoid being faced with a letdown when stressed out and expecting support.
And last but not least: the price. Nobody wants to pay the top prize for a product that can be bought for less. Therefore, you indirectly select a pricing model when choosing between on-premise and cloud. Often, you pay a one-off price for locally installed software, while cloud software usually comes in the form of a subscription. Cloud software, therefore, requires a lower initial investment. In addition, the subscription fee includes all future updates.
We do not recommend going for free software or freemium software. Free software can work in the short term, but you can safely assume that you will encounter limitations in the future. In addition, the security and support of free software often leave much to be desired.
Again: see which software providers meet your requirements and choose the platform that best suits your needs. Is this option more expensive than the other options? Do not put it aside immediately, but consider whether the extra investment is worthwhile because you will save costs in the long term. Our experience is that this is usually the case!
Still not sure which software to choose? Then we have good news: at Bizplay digital signage you can request a free demo that includes all functionality. This way you immediately know whether the software's possibilities and dashboard suit your organization!