Smart signage is quickly becoming more and more popular as technology improves and costs drop. With new software solutions, smarter and smaller LED screens featuring technologies like System on a Chip, and remote and wireless updates, signage often makes more sense and costs less than traditional paper and print posters. But, with significant upfront costs including hardware, software, and a learning curve for most employees, it’s important that you understand smart signage and what you can do with it before investing.
LED signage offers significantly more in terms of functionality and performance when compared to traditional signage. Leveraging that functionality, rather than simply replacing static signage with screens, will allow you to see a great deal of return on your investment.
Digital Posters and Boards
Digital signage lends itself to replacing digital signage and boards extremely well, which is why retailers, organizations, and corporations are increasingly using digital instead of paper ads. However, smart LED signage allows you to take digital posters and boards a step further, adding in interactivity, responsiveness, and real-time data.
How does that look in real life? Jaguar launched a smart LED billboard in Moscow, which responded to users based on their vehicles and the weather. Individuals driving a BMW x5 or a Volvo XC60 were shown specific ads, which then updated based on time of day or the weather.
Retailers already integrate personalization and interactivity into digital billboards, using facial recognition, color recognition, and phone-interaction to update displays. For example, a store billboard can update based on the gender or age of the person looking at it, can share ads based on the individual’s history of visiting the store, can promote products in similar colors to what the person is wearing, and so on.
However, signage doesn’t have to be interactive to be smart. Digital signage software allows you to update ads and content based on time of day, the weather outside, traffic, or news items, so that your ads and information are always relevant.
Menus and Self-Help
Menus and self-help are increasingly valuable for businesses, largely because people use them and they reduce demand on customer service and support. How? Companies like McDonalds and AktieSport (A Dutch sporting goods retailer) have integrated self-checkout and ordering kiosks for years. These screens allow customers to place their own orders, which are then processed through the same system as someone going to a cashier. This then reduces the demand on customer service, reducing lines and wait times, and therefore reducing dissatisfaction.
Smart signage offers a great deal in terms of wayfinding, queue management, and even signposts. Here, your signage interacts with smart digital maps, which can be supplemented with technologies such as I-Beacons to guide individual users, phone-recognition through NFC or Bluetooth, and live mapping. Users can then receive dynamic wayfinding, with arrows pointing the correct destination as they walk, updates or flashes to notify then whem to turn, and dynamic handoff to a phone or mobile app.
Smart wayfinding allows a user to input their destination and then receive the fastest route, with either a static route, or one that updates based on new data. For example, your wayfinding can easily update to allow for heavy traffic areas, changes in passageways, temporary escalator or elevator outages, or similar changes.
Wayfinding can also direct users based on search terms, such as a product category, bathrooms, or (in corporate settings) who is using a room or conference area. The only requirement here is that areas in the map are updated and tagged appropriately, so users can find what they’re looking for.
Creating Audience Interaction
Interactivity is one of the primary benefits of using digital signage over static, simply because it’s engaging and memorable. Integrating technologies like real-time streaming allows you to invite audience interaction through social media, create interactive boards that work like chatbots, and update messaging based on people walking by.
How does this look on the street or in a building? Your signage can directly interact with the audience. Signage can prompt individuals to use a hashtag and they immediately show up on the sign. Signage can call out specific features “hey, you in the red jacket”. Signage can offer a choice of ads, “Do you want to see X or Y”, and so on. This is very useful in both retail and corporate settings. For example, a person standing in a queue will be very likely to be engaged with a smart sign displaying length of the queue, news or some other infotainment, or a choice of ads to watch. Or, if a customer walks up to a screen, they can select an option and interact with a screen using either audio-recognition or a series of on-screen prompts to get the same assistance they would through an online chatbot.
While audience interaction isn’t always appropriate, it does offer an easy way to engage with people. Here, key moments are often entrances/exits, in waiting areas, and anywhere people will be sitting for longer periods of time.
Branding and Corporate Messaging
Smart LED signage offers unique ways to share branding and corporate messaging, which will add a great deal of value to your signage. Placing digital signage in key areas around workplaces allows you to share safety messages, corporate branding, and motivational messaging. Linking signage to real-time data can show employees what they’ve achieved that day, how far the company is in reaching a goal, actual production for the day, or any other live metric you want. Smart signage can automatically pull live data into charts, making it easy to read, engaging, and motivating. This applies for both yourself and any customers you might have. For example, you can update conference room signage to display the branding of the organization renting the room.
Smart digital signage makes it easy to engage with your audience in new ways, either through interactive software, audience recognition, or smarter updates. The simplest applications allow you to keep messaging always-relevant by automating messaging based on external factors like time-of-day or weather. The most advanced allow you to use facial recognition, NFC, and other tools to create real-time responsive messaging that customers can interact with.