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A Bird s Eye View of Digital Signage Software

Think back to the last time you visited a venue in which a digital signage solution had been installed. Consider local restaurants, grocery stores, your bank, church, or even your dentist's office. Have you ever wondered how the content reaches the screens? Have you ever considered the technical infrastructure that is necessary to make it possible? It's much simpler than it seems.

If you're a venue owner or manager, and you're thinking about installing an out-of-home media network, it's important that you understand what is happening behind the scenes. In this article, I'll provide an overview of the different types of software that are used to manage a digital signage platform. I'll explain each tool's responsibility and describe how they perform their respective jobs.

Storing Content And Managing Playlists

For the remainder of this discussion, we'll assume you're going to install a DOOH network that spans multiple physical locations - for example, a small chain of restaurants. If you're planning to host your own architecture (as opposed to using a third-party platform), you'll need three main components: screens, media players, and a server.

Your server houses the content. However, you need a way to schedule its distribution to the screens within your network. That is the job of a content management system (CMS). Once you load your signage content into the CMS, you'll be able to organize your segments according to when and where you want them to play. This is accomplished by creating playlists.

The level of flexibility you'll enjoy when creating your playlists will depend on the software; some packages are more robust than others. Most will allow you to schedule your segments by time and location. Ideally, you'll also want the flexibility of being able to program playlists that share some segments while retaining a degree of customization.

Pushing Or Pulling Content

After you have created and scheduled your signage playlists, you'll need software to send your segments to your media players. This distribution software works in one of two ways. It can reside on your server with the CMS, and send your content to the individual players. That gives you the ability to distribute - or push - segments as soon as you have them loaded into the CMS.

On the other hand, the software can reside on each of the media players. Rather than sending content, it pulls the segments into the player from the server. This is a higher-maintenance approach than having the software reside on the server to actively push your content to the players. Depending on the size of your signage network, you could presumably have hundreds of calls to your server throughout the day. That can put your server's load capacity under stress.

Other Tools Of The Trade

Besides managing and distributing content throughout your network, you may need a few ancillary software applications. For example, creation software allows you to upload templates on which to build your segments. Your clips and ad spots are unlikely to be as polished as those created by advertising agencies, but you'll be able to create them quickly and inexpensively.

If you're planning to create information-based clips for your customers, but want the flexibility to insert ads within your loops, consider using a separate ad management client. These packages will normally reside on your server with your CMS. That makes it simple to insert ad spots within your existing playlists.

The technology that drives a digital signage platform is robust, but it is not complicated. In fact, as DOOH becomes more prevalent in a variety of industries, the software that manages and streams content continues to become more user-friendly. And that may usher in a new generation of signage enthusiasts.
About Author Franklin Lucer :

ConnectedSign is a leader in digital signage, and an excellent source for calculating return on investment of a signage system, business planning, deployment planning, hardware and software installation, content creation, and staff training. Check them out online at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

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Article Added on Friday, November 27, 2009
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