Content Is KingDon Cockayne
So elsewhere in this issue, I’ve given you a quick introduction to some of the “nuts and bolts” of a Digital Sign System, but now I want to dive into the part of it that I get excited about, the Content. Let’s face it, you could probably get by ok with nothing more than the same old hand drawn or perhaps even computer generated and printed paper signs that have been scattered around the place for all these years, but with Digital Signs and a robust Content development and delivery system we can bring your messaging to life and keep it fresh without turning one of your employees into a full-time Content Creator. But before I dazzle you with Content Delivery Magic, let’s explore the basics of what is most often used to present engaging content.
Just like I had to do with the hardware, I need to explain just a bit about how we can “carve” the screen up when it comes to displaying information. The typical digital sign screen is configured to run with a resolution of 1920 x 1080, which is the standard full screen layout of a normal display. But when it comes to deciding what goes where, with the proper software behind the scenes, we can carve that real estate into any number of “zones” to present a mixture of content.
A common layout divides a screen into three zones, one primary zone that displays the main information, and then a small zone that is typically presented on the right or left side of the screen to show something like the local weather or perhaps a news feed, and then across the bottom might be a zone that is setup to allow text to scroll or “crawl” across the bottom of the screen. (You see this all the time on news shows on Television.) There are all sorts of data feeds available to populate these crawlers or sidebars, and since the content is pulled directly from the Internet source at the time it is displayed, these areas are always presenting updated information with little or no intervention required on the part of you or your employees. The crawlers and sidebars are completely optional, but they go a long way to keeping people interested in looking at your displays since the information is always changing.
In the main zone, we’ve got so many options for Content Delivery that I can only touch on a couple of major ideas, but trust me, if you can dream it, most likely it can be done with today’s Content Creation tools. Let’s start with something simple, like a very basic slideshow of pictures. The Content Management system can be setup to create a “smart” list of things to show, says all the pictures posted to the Content Manager server, displayed in whatever way you’d like, perhaps a totally random order or displayed in the order they were uploaded, whatever makes the most sense to you. And because this list is “smart”, all someone has to do is drop a new picture into the mix and the software takes care or placing it into the rotation without any work on your part.
Things that show up in this mix can also have dates that they are valid as individual pieces of content, so perhaps you have one picture in the mix that you want to display only during the month of December. With the simple addition of a start and end date on that one image as it is uploaded, the system will take care of including it or skipping it according to the schedule. In fact, scheduling of content is where the real power of a well designed system starts to pay dividends, giving the person responsible for keeping the Content fresh the ability to schedule things days, weeks or even months in advance, and then going back to whatever else is on their plate, confident in the knowledge that the appropriate media will be displayed only during it’s “allowed” schedule window.
And the power of dynamic content doesn’t stop there. Imagine a system where the content being displayed was being pulled directly from some data that wasn’t even part of the Sign System. If you stop by our offices at any point, you’ll see no fewer than 4 screens scattered around the building, each one pulling real-time data directly out of our SQL databases to create dashboards that are constantly updated. In your business, this type of data extraction might mean that all of your “on sale” items were being displayed and updated on signs around the building simply by virtue of the fact that someone marked them a sale items in your Point of Sale system, or perhaps you need production information or other statistical information for all to see. We can do that with the system we use and the applications we’re developing in that platform.
In a nutshell, we can deploy a Digital Sign solution into any type of business, to fill nearly any type of need imaginable, and do it in a way that minimizes the amount of time it takes to create the content that also insures that what is being presented is always updated and always compelling to look at.