Digital Signage: Hidden Costs and What to Look For in Your Solution

Digital signage is often known for being expensive, and there are plenty of reasons why this does hold true.  Take into account screens, installation, content and then typically some ongoing subscription software license that is contracted. It is no surprise that people, particularly in the SME world label this a “big business tool”, and go back to doing it all themselves, or accepting the high-cost marriage to get the benefit.

But it does not need to be this way. Here are some hidden costs to watch out for, so you can go digital and skip the money pits.

 

Hidden cost #1: The Subscription Saga

With a lock-in deal and no real ownership, an SME customer will pay money that’s similar to an Enterprise customer, often without the white-glove service.

Most SME will agree that price is potentially the most important part of a solution, so a broken-down subscription fee might at the face of it look good.

Let’s consider a deployment that comes to $200 dollars a month and calculate that by a 36 month contract. That’s a $7,200 investment, and you start again after 36 months!

In addition to the hefty total amount paid for a digital solution, this model also fails to give you real ownership of the solution at the end of the contract. With a lock-in deal and no real ownership, an SME customer will pay money that’s similar to an Enterprise customer, often without the white-glove service.

What to Look For: Look for the Total Cost Of Ownership (the total cost at the end of the payments), not just the monthly fee!

 

Hidden cost #2: Too Many Tiers

Tiered digital signage solutions sound sensible, too. Why pay for the highest tier of software for many devices, plus frills, when your requirements are relatively simple? What many tiered digital signage solutions do, however, is keep customers from getting a full solution that is self-sufficient at the lowest bracket/s.

For a customer wanting to run a small network of screens (say, under 10), the ability to control all displays, have visibility over them, schedule content to screens without restrictions, have some level of reporting, and have access to a content creator should ideally be part of the deal. Many digital signage providers will supply a portion of this, but not the entire thing. This results in a solution that now simply needs to be upgraded to avail the true benefits of digital.

What to Look For:  Look for a non-restrictive solution. Don’t fall for the “You can upgrade later.”

 

Hidden cost #3: Managed Services

This one plays on the fear of many customers. Some digital signage companies charge a fortune by scaring customers into thinking the platform is too difficult or technical and will have to be managed by the provider.

This tactic works as a sales pitch but doesn’t necessarily address a core issue: small businesses prize autonomy. An SME owner wears multiple hats at any given time. There isn’t a team of marketing folks to liaise with the digital signage provider at all hours of the day.

Small companies like to have the keys to their solution. Their solution needs to deliver on the efficiency and ease of use required for an environment like this.

What to Look For: Question the value of a managed service. Is the platform really so difficult for people to use, once trained? If the answer is yes, keep looking.

Small companies like to have the keys to their solution. There isn’t a team of marketing folks to liaise with the digital signage provider, so ease of use is key. 

 
Hidden cost #4: Built-in Digital Signage

Let’s talk for a moment about signage solutions that look like they will end all longstanding problems with digital: the digital signage provider is built in the screen.

While this seems like a failsafe to customers, it’s not quite the holy grail. For one, it locks you into a type of screen—buying a Samsung screen with an in-built player now requires you to have multiple screens (for multiple displays). This means that when your network grows (or simply when it’s time to change screens), and LG happens to have a great deal going, the offering is moot. Samsung it is, and Samsung it will be.

This option is restrictive in other ways, too—what if you’d like a little point of sale display at the front of your store and your screen brand doesn’t have one in the right specs? You now either forego the idea or have just one screen running via a different method.

What to Look For: Opt for a player-based solution and keep your freedom of choice intact.

 

Hidden Cost #5: The 1 x mega-player (too good to be true)

The idea of using one player to run all your screens sounds sophisticated, but this is actually a less practical and more expensive option for businesses. Imagine a busy café with a 3 x screen menu. If one fails, it’s easy to leverage the other two to keep things going while you get a replacement.

When one player does all the heavy lifting, this heightens the risk of losing all your displays in one go—a hazardous result to any business. Plus, typically, SME don’t have 24 x 7 support, so this is entirely their burden to wear if something goes wrong.

We call this the BSOD – the black screen of death.

When one player does all the heavy lifting, this heightens the risk of losing all your displays in one go. We call this the BSOD – the black screen of death.

What to Look For: Opt for dedicated players for each screen and minimise the risk profile of your displays.

 

To summarise

Low-cost, one-off cost solutions that give you ownership are a great way to approach digital signage. Your signage solution should give you everything you need from a platform at no added cost, without compromising on flexibility around the most expensive bit: hardware.

Once again, to reiterate: grab the keys.

Learn more on digital signage and its immense application across various industries here: https://entertaindigital.com/entertain-for-your-industry/.

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