IoT & Embedded Technology Blog

Digital Signage – Communicating New Ideas & Chasing the Elusive ROI

As an embedded technology, digital signage, it seems, is gaining considerable awareness, with industry predictions for substantial growth through this decade.  VDC recently spoke with digital signage management software developer WireSpring Technologiesto discuss the embedded platforms and technologies enabling digital signage systems.  WireSpring points out that it views digital signage in primary types:  (a) traditional advertising-focused digital signage, and (b) interactive digital kiosks.

According to WireSpring, it sees a number of complexities associated with managing and optimizing digital signage solutions; complexities that can be managed more effectively with its software platform, FireCast ClientCenter. These complexities can include:

  • “Dwell time” (i.e., the amount of time a person has to view the advertisement or interact with the digital kiosk),
  • Enabling user friendly touch screen interfaces 
  • The communication medium
  • Measuring consumer response
  • Calculating the digital signage ROI (return on investment) 

With WireSpring's FireCast ClientCenter, a digital sign operator can remotely monitor and manage their digital content to ensure these remote systems are operating properly and delivering value.  For instance, operators can set up content “playlists” (e.g., a group of individual advertisements or messages, etc.) with precise content start times, lengths, and end times.  The WireSpring solution also has “counters” that keep track of consumer interactions when the display is a digital kiosk. 

The hardware backbone of WireSpring’s solution has typically been x86-based. The firm has completed numerous embedded projects using long-lifecycle Intel and AMD processors and industrial motherboards, not dissimilar to many non-x86 systems. In addition, WireSpring has also partnered with Freescale, mostly as a result of Freescale’s broad interest in digital signage and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.  WireSpring makes reference designs for Freescale, using Freescale hardware (i.e., the 8536, QorIQ, and i.MX51) and software development kits to build the FireCast ClientCenter platform.

On the immediate product development horizon, WireSpring is currently developing next-generation digital signage solutions, including managing converged and multi-function devices. Many of these every-day products include printers, water coolers, fountain drink dispensers, etc. which can now be upgraded with digital signage and interactive features. 

VDC believes even with the recent advances in digital signage performance and measurement, a verifiable ROI remains a challenge to fully measure.  VDC has projected that digital signage adoption will grow rapidly through 2015.  Despite this growth, total cost of ownership (TCO) for digital signage solutions (including the cost of the software and hardware, its implementation, and its ongoing maintenance), and its relationship to a verifiable ROI may remain complicated to quantify.  The issue of fully quantifying the TCO to ROI relationship will remain until digital signage becomes more widely accepted as an enhancement to existing customer people-to-people interactions.


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