White Paper: Digital Signage vs. Printed Posters – All the Answers to Your In-Store Retail Questions

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With brands from all industry sectors now transitioning over to digital signage and seeing the benefits, is it safe to say that it may be time to roll up that poster and embrace the digital change?

Research shows that digital adverts are more eye-catching than traditional printed posters and can be deployed instantly rather than in days or weeks. In recent years, industry research has continually proved the effectiveness of digital advertising and now demonstrates a case for the return on the investment (ROI) by switching over to digital signage:

• 80 percent of brands experienced up to 33 percent in additional sales through the use of digital signage (Nielsen)
• 84 percent of U.K. retailers believe digital signage creates significant brand awareness
• Digital signage captures 400 percent more views than static signage (Intel Corp.)

There is no denying that print communications have proven their worth in the past. Printed communications have evolved for years, and today, digital signage is a part of the evolution to push past the traditional limitations and truly engage with customers. With cloud-based solutions offering unparalleled capabilities, the benefits are becoming hard to resist. As the world around us rapidly embraces digital technology, is it time for the high street retail sector to do the same?

Digital signage gives more freedom and flexibility to retailers while seamlessly enhancing consumer engagement with your brand. With the ability to change content on the fly, schedule and arrange advertising and messages based upon the time of day or by client facial recognition, savvy organizations are starting to make the switch from print ads to digital signage.

The emergence of highly energy-efficient HD and 4K digital screen quality yet again strengthens the case for digital signage. Not only do digital screens provide a more vivid and vibrant depth of color, but they also enable the ability to now play videos and other animated screen content. This has become a marketer’s dream as it opens up a whole new world of instant, meaningful and customized communication.

To put it simply, the initial investment of implementing digital signage comes with an impressive ROI. However, before you can understand the cost of failing to implement digital signage, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the benefits that come with digital displays. In the whitepaper reprinted below, we will explore the following benefits and advantages of moving from printed posters to digital screens:

Is digital signage more efficient than printed posters?

The fact is … time is money! So the ability for digital signage to be seamlessly updated with new content anytime at the press of a button ensures that savings and benefits continue to mount.

With the content and design of static posters being fixed, they can only show a single advertisement per location, meaning that only one message can be communicated to consumers within your high footfall areas. With posters being physical items, there is also no flexibility to easily change the content if printed incorrectly or if they become outdated, often resulting in a time-consuming process back to the printers for a new print run.

On the other hand, you have the digital signage solution. In just a few clicks, new content can be displayed on your in-store screens across multiple locations around the world. This means you can instantly and effortlessly update your campaign materials at whatever time, day or date you wish. In fact, with just a few simple clicks from the head office, you could even target information to an exact geolocation or tailor your message to a specific audience demographic.

With digital signage, you’re giving your teams the ability to be flexible around your customer or company needs, transforming your in-store advertising spaces into powerful marketing tools. By having the innate ability to play back multiple assets, you have the ability to create and schedule an infinite sequence of desired messages that can be played back to targeted screens within your digital signage network. It’s almost unfathomable how printed signs could do something similar. Clearly, when it comes to the speed of deployment and number of messages communicated, digital signage is the winner.

So the benefits of instantly getting marketing messages out to your end consumer are immediately compelling. However, it’s also worth taking the time to consider the full implications these efficiencies bring to your internal work-flow and distribution. When you only have printed signage to promote your products, the work-flow is really slow. Producing traditional print signage is often a time-consuming, labor-intensive and expensive process. Print requires transport, people and physical media at each stage of the process. From the moment paper stock arrives at a printer until the time someone actually installs the finished printed poster, transportation and labor costs never cease.

Digital signage can be updated in seconds. Once implemented, there is nothing to stock, nothing to ship and nothing to install. The digital signage work-flow is far more efficient. There is literally zero transport of physical media and zero people required between the point of origin and the point of display. Cutting out these processes from your work-flow not only reduce costs but also increases the speed of distribution and all-round productivity for your company.

Case Study: A brand is releasing an in-store winter clothing promotion in September. In this scenario, the approved designs needed to be at the printers by early August to allow enough time for them printed and delivered. Therefore, the promotion for September needed to have been designed way back in June. Where is the opportunity there? With a digital network, you can archive your pre-designed promotions or even create your promotions for September one week or one day before. Imagine you have featured a raincoat in your printed September promotion, but this year turns out to be particularly warm and dry. Your printed poster is losing you potential sales on better placed products. By opting for digital signage, this client is now able to continue promoting summer clothing throughout September and be ready to instantly switch it the moment that first drop of rain falls. Just like the street sellers who pop up out of nowhere with umbrellas when it starts to rain, digital signage has the ability to be on time with the right message when needed.

Is digital signage more effective than printed posters?

A consumer’s decision making is strongly influenced by the visuals they’re presented with. Successful brands are fully aware of that, and this is why signage is displayed throughout in-store environments. A first impression is hard to change, and digital content can improve the way you communicate your brand to engage and impact your target audience.

As a society, people now expect to receive information and entertainment via digital formats. Digital signage appeals to our inherent nature to be inquisitive. From recent studies:

• Out of 1.6 million shoppers, 77 percent engaged with a digital screen showing animated content.
• 76 percent of American consumers would enter a store that they’ve never visited based solely on the appeal of its signs (a 2012 survey commissioned by FedEx).

It’s clear that before you sell anything to your customers, you need to grab their attention first. Marketers can exploit the moving nature of digital signage to draw attention, making customers absorb this new experience and eliciting an emotional response with the brand. Motion attracts and retains attention in ways that print can’t. By bringing in-store signage to life, retailers will see a lift in sales after installing digital displays in prominent places combined with eye-catching targeted material.

It’s great that digital signage gets more attention, but what makes cloud solutions more effective? Simply put, cloud-based digital signage puts your advertising campaigns firmly in the present. Good, timely content enhances engagement by informing, educating, entertaining or inspiring your audience. Out-of-date signage can do the complete opposite, making it particularly unappealing and hurting your brand. Centrally managed cloud solutions put the brand in full control, allowing you to display targeted content to a particular audience exactly when appropriate. This enables your messaging to become a lot more succinct with numerous promotions being communicated and without ever becoming lost or overcrowded. The marriage of digital technology with other media forms has increased its appeal with marketers enabling the integration of hyper-targeted content that is based on world events, audience interests or even weather conditions.

For example, a fast-food chain can promote offerings depending on the weather that day. If it’s an unusually warm day, they can promote iced drinks, or hot drinks when the temperature drops. Digital signage is also an excellent way to offer promotions or discounts that help drive sales.

The NowSignage digital signage platform has taken this understanding to the next level by including the power of mixing in moderated social media content into digital displays. Social media is a peer influencer. 71 percent of consumers are likely to purchase an item based on social media referrals. By incorporating social media into targeted advertising, brands can maximize exposure of positive product endorsements through social proof. This connects brands directly at the point of purchase and increases the chance of product sales.

For example, imagine that a Dad takes his 15-year-old son into a Nike shop to buy a new pair of football boots. With such a wide selection of choices, what does he buy? Dad, driven by value for money, sees an ad appear on the in-store screens promoting a special offer with 25 percent off and suggests this to his son. The boy then picks it up and tries it on. While doing so, he sees a tweet from Ronaldo appear on the same screen of a picture of him wearing the football boot. This positive endorsement and social proof from his hero is overwhelming, and the sale is made!

Can digital signage improve your environmental footprint?

Benefits of digital signage don’t only include improved efficiency and brand recognition. Compared to print-based advertising, digital signage is much more environmentally friendly. The environmental impact of large corporations has become a big issue among world leaders in recent years. By opting for eco-friendly processes, your business can help save the earth while simultaneously keeping money in your pocket.

To start, you need to consider your signage production and implementation impact. Print methods immediately raise environmental concerns due to the number of trees that need to be cut, transported to mills, processed and made into paper. Additionally, the transportation logistics to each individual signage location will be greatly contributing to your carbon footprint.

Secondly, anything that reduces your post-production footprint is obviously a huge plus. Poster communication has a very short shelf life, and the waste generated from monthly multi-location print campaigns has much more substantial implications than setting up a digital signage network. Digital signage messaging can be updated easily, eliminating the need to print new signs over and over as messaging necessities change. Posters on the other hand end up in a landfill only a few weeks after circulation (or even shorter if a printing mistake is spotted). That’s one serious waste of paper.

Waste disposal is also a common environmental concern with printed signs. Green or sustainability initiatives are top of mind in many industries today:

• According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 246 million tons of trash were created in the U.S. in 2008.

The consideration is not just for the paper but also for the chemicals, inks, solvents and adhesives, all of which are necessary for the remainder of the printing process. Greenhouse gas emissions are ever increasing, fueled by incineration, methane gas released from landfill decomposition and the transportation logistics of paper products throughout the paper signage cycle.

Case Study: A fast food chain with 500 outlets is using posters to display their promotions in each outlet. A call comes in from the head office, saying “We’re adding new seasonal items to the menu, and our posters need changing.” That’s a lot of paper to dispose of and a whole lot more being used to replace them. Consider how often this scenario occurs. It could be every month or even every week. Regardless of the frequency, can you envision the huge amount of paper used in a year simply by replacing posters on a weekly or monthly basis? Based on this example alone, digital signage holds the upper hand in the eco-friendly stakes by instantly eliminating paper wastage, reducing CO2 transport emissions, and the prevention of increasing numbers of paper, plastic, ink, chemicals and paint going into landfills.

But doesn’t digital signage use lots of energy? Obviously, digital signage consumes energy, which contributes to your business’s carbon footprint, but it’s far less than the environmental impact of print. There are also several things you can do to conserve energy and help the environment. Technological advancements have seen energy-efficient LED screens introduced to the market as an eco-friendly alternative LCD. These screens use less electricity and tend to have a longer lifespan, meaning they avoid the landfill for considerably longer. Many screens today also have automatic brightness control, which means they adjust their brightness to coincide with the level of ambient light around them, which conserves energy and keeps the screen working longer. Another way to reduce unnecessary energy usage is to opt not to go with touchscreen solutions, as these require significantly more energy to process the touch-sensitive information.

Even though digital signs consume energy, they are by far a greener option than printed signs. So despite incurring a large expense upfront, their eco-friendly benefits give you a quick return on your investment and put a big tick next to you Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR)!

Will digital signage make you more profitable?

Digital signage outperforms print signage by enabling you to utilize a single signage location to schedule multiple promotional messages. This can be used to directly increase you company product sales or indirectly generate revenue through the sale of advertising space.

In the end, digital signage is all about the opportunity to let your customers see what they need to see at a specific place and at a precise moment. Displaying the right content mix will absolutely result in more sales. For example, by using digital signage to show your breakfast in the morning, lunch in the afternoon and dinner at night, digital signs add value by letting you use your most valuable space as efficiently as possible.

As digital signs are often put in the best possible store locations, store signage managers can be reluctant to let certain ads run. As it’s inexpensive to update content on a well-designed digital signage network, you have the ability to go beyond these “safe” advertisements and try to push items that have great potential, but don’t yet warrant the prime poster space. When you have a digital network, you don’t simply run a nationwide promotion like you might with print. Digital signage enables you to run your nationwide campaigns alongside targeted local promotions to aid the sales of lesser or supporting product ranges. By effectively using past data about the kinds of shoppers in your stores, you can even change promotions on specific months, weeks or even times of day.

• 80 percent of brands experienced a significant increase of up to 33 percent in additional sales through the use of digital signage.

For example, in a fast food restaurant with hungry customers waiting to be served, the best thing you can do is make everything look appetizing. Maybe you’ve got a new offering, and no one knows what it looks like and therefore won’t try it. Here, you have the opportunity now to reinforce the message by giving them a look. Don’t forget those potential customers passing-by outside though! Well-placed window screens showcasing mouth-watering promotions can literally grab the eyeballs of those passersby on the streets.

Another profitable revenue stream is to monetize your prime screen locations by cross selling advertising slots for products that appeal to the same customer demographic. For example, a Golf shop may cross sell ad space for a luxury car manufacturer because they know that their customers who are buying expensive golf clubs will also be interested in luxury cars.

If you choose to explore this revenue option, then you will have to estimate the value of the ads being shown, typically by calculating the impressions that each screen will receive in each store. Through digital signage, you’ll have the ability to run several ads on the same piece of real estate. While the opportunity to see each piece of content may be lower, the ability to put multiple items in the same high-value location is very compelling for advertisers, so the real value of each spot remains pretty high.

Quote: On the 1st of April, 2016, WHSmith announced its plans to roll out new digital display screens in the windows of 100 of its stores across the U.K. Ian Sanders, group commercial development director at WHSmith, explained, “The outdoor advertising industry has accepted digital display advertising as the way forward, and retailers on the high street are now realizing their real estate is also the perfect platform for digital out-of-home marketing. WHSmith is proud to become the first high street convenience store to make this transition, and the screens will give our stores both advertising and communication standout, whilst monetizing our windows with compliance and control.”

Will digital signage reduce your cost?

Going with digital signage isn’t simply a matter of making your signage more efficient, effective and environmentally friendly; it also makes good business sense. While that may seem a bit surprising, it becomes clear that communicating with digital signage can be less expensive than doing so with the print alternative upon closer examination.

The ability of a digital sign to display countless messages is what makes it cost effective. Implementing signage at a large scale with unlimited frequency would be inconceivable with print. The investment of digital signage may require a larger upfront CapEx commitment, as you are purchasing state-of-the-art signage software and commercial-grade screens. However, if you were to measure the ongoing cost of printing, distributing those printed materials, paying employees to display those printed materials, replacing printed materials and recycling the print materials, then the monthly costs of running digital signage are much less.

One financial reduction that is often overlooked is the huge savings made by making decisions more of a non-decision. What we mean by this is reducing the costs of the decision making processes, the reviews and chain of command. These savings are partially due to the more efficient management method of digital media. Updating the signage in just a few minutes for an entire organization even on a global scale can be part of an existing employee’s assignment, eliminating the coordination of several individuals. Content is instantly shareable for approval before deployment. The entire proofing cycle is greatly reduced so content can be produced closer to its intended use.

Some studies calculate that, within the first year after implementing digital signage, some companies calculated more than 30 percent savings in running costs, including the salaries of those who would manage it.

Printed in-store posters requires time and money for design, admin, printing, distribution and setup. Digital signage requires a one-off cost and installation, with smaller ongoing costs for licensing, support and maintenance. This saves time for your employees and money for your brand. These outlined costs may be okay to deal with if you are just one retail branch. However, if you consider the cost of having to change an entire series of print posters around the country, then digital signage presents a much better long-term financial decision. Updating a digital signage network is done with just the click of the button, and best of all, there are no traditional distribution costs.

Is digital signage the right choice?

In summary, there is no denying that digital signage requires an investment. The bottom line, however, is that if it’s executed properly, this investment is much less than the missed opportunity cost of not having a way to engage your customers. This form of promotion is what your customers have come to expect and is what your competitors are doing, so do you want to miss out?

It is clear that digital signage does one thing very well and that is it engages your customers. Despite information overload in modern society, large TV screens remain hard to disregard and immediately grab our attention, in comparison to print that is less exciting and easy to ignore. From a business perspective, the ability to play back unlimited promotions within the confines of one wall space makes digital extremely effective and efficient at utilizing your wall space to increase sales and brand awareness. From the perspective of being green, digital signage enables you to get more messages out with less environmental impact.

Digital signage is both a better business and environmental approach.

About Author

Nick Johnson is a digital entrepreneur who gained recognition in 2013 by securing UBM, Manchester United, IBM & Coca-Cola during only the first few months of launching EventBeat, a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) digital signage platform for the events sector. Based on this experience, Johnson has since spearheaded the development of NowSignage, a cloud-based platform dedicated to the in-store multiscreen requirements of the retail sector. 

NowSignage is an online digital signage platform that enables retail brands to manage and instantly update all of their stores’ digital screen content via the cloud at the click of a button. The NowSignage platform can be utilized to broadcast a range of images, videos and moderated social media to live in-store screens. By adding different loops to your timetable brands, one can showcase targeted content to an exact location on different days or even at different times of the day. 

 

1 Comment

  1. Great article! curious if the state of our Visual industry still needs convincing to switch to digital platform

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