Digital Signage Costs and Considerations
Digital signage is a great way to promote, educate, or entice, but how much does it cost? And what should you consider before investing? In this blog post, we'll look at some the key factors you need to consider when it comes to digital signage.
Digital signage is a great way to promote, educate, or entice, but how much does it cost? And what should you consider before investing? In this blog post, we'll look at some they key factors you need to consider when it comes to digital signage.
Digital Signage Cost Factors
The cost of digital signage can vary significantly depending on your needs, but it is essential to consider all factors when budgeting for your project. Some factors that can influence the cost of your digital signage include:
- Software costs
- Hardware costs
- Installation and Maintenance Costs
- Content Creation Costs
Digital Signage Software costs
The digital signage software you use will be a significant factor in the overall cost of your digital signage project. Depending on a digital signage software's features, complexity, and customization options, the cost can range from free to thousands of dollars.
Free digital signage software
While opting for a free digital signage solution may be tempting, this is often not a good idea. Free digital signage software usually lacks the features and customization options needed for professional-level deployments. Furthermore, free solutions often lack technical support or customer service, leaving you without assistance if any issues arise. Additionally, free solutions may not be as secure or reliable as paid options.
Cloud-based or on-premises software for digital signage
There are two types of digital signage software solutions on the market, cloud-based and on-premises. One key point to consider when deciding between cloud-based or on-premise digital signage software is whether you want a one-time investment or to pay incrementally over time.
Cloud-based Digital Signage
Cloud-based digital signage software is often more cost-effective and requires less setup time. Most digital signage providers will charge you monthly or yearly, and this fee generally includes upgrades.
With Cloud-based digital signage:
- The software vendors own and manage the IT
- Users can remotely use the software
- Licenses work on a pay-as-you-use model
- Easy to scale
- Easy to maintain
On-Premise Digital Signage
On-premise solutions are typically more expensive than cloud-based options due to hardware, software, installation, and maintenance costs. With the rise of cloud-based solutions, we see fewer and fewer companies choosing on-premise software. However, some companies prefer full data ownership and thus pick an on-premise solution. Generally, enterprises with deeply secure, well-established IT infrastructures - such as hospitals and corporate offices - choose on-premise digital signage software.
With an on-premise solution:
- The software is stored and run on the user's private servers.
- Only devices owned by the organization can access the software.
- Licenses are purchased upfront.
- Deploying updates requires on-site access
- Uptime is unaffected by the availability of the internet
The Cost of Digital Signage Screens & Hardware
Hardware is a significant contributor to the cost of digital signage. Hardware includes displays (screens), media players, mounting equipment, and more.
Digital Signage Displays
The cost of screens can vary significantly depending on factors such as size, display type, and resolution. For example, a commercial-grade display is more expensive than a consumer-grade display. What's the difference? Mainly the amount of time screens will be running and the level of exposure to the weather and other physical contact. Consumer displays are neither built to run 24/7/365 nor for running outdoors, so if this is your situation, you'll have to acquire a commercial-grade screen.
Other cost-influencing factors are screen size, resolution, brightness, and support for touch. Each factor can be addressed across a broad spectrum – e.g., there are significantly varying screen brightness levels and touch recognition technologies – so the cost can vary tremendously.
Media Players are an additional cost factor to consider. Some commercial-grade displays have built-in media players, like the Samsung SMART Signage Platform, while others rely on a screen-independent device. These independent devices can be dedicated to digital signage – such as those from BrightSign – or general-purpose devices hosting third-party software, such as Intel NUCs, Android-based systems, and Raspberry Pi compute sticks. The cost will reflect variables such as processing power, use of dedicated graphics cards, available RAM, commercial readiness, and more.
Other Hardware costs
Additional hardware costs include display mounts, enclosures, cables and cable concealment, and networking technology.
Mounting hardware is used to install digital signage screens onto walls securely, with some mounting solutions allowing for the screen to be tilted and swiveled as required.
Enclosures protect digital signage from dust, dirt, liquids, and tampering. They are also ideal for outdoor installations, providing protection against vandalism and weather damage while allowing people to see what is displayed on the screen even when exposed to direct sunlight. They are essential if the screens are present in a public space.
Cable concealment allows for a tidy finish, ensuring that all wires are hidden from view.
The type of network hardware required depends on the number of screens in the installation, whether the content needs to be synchronized across screens, and the choice between cloud-based and on-premise software. There is also the choice between WiFi/cellular connectivity vs. hardwired ethernet connections; the former simplifies installation as it eliminates a cable dependency, while the latter increases bandwidth.
The installation and configuration of this equipment will likely rely on third-party services, introducing another expense to be budgeted.
The Cost to Install Digital Signage
Installation cost is directly tied to the number of screens and hardware that must be installed.
Professional installation is highly recommended, as this will ensure it is done correctly and safely per building regulations. Additionally, having an experienced installer configure your system means you can get help troubleshooting if something goes wrong after the fact.
For large projects, the price can increase dramatically, so getting multiple quotes is always a smart idea.
Digital Signage Maintenance & Operational Costs
When it comes to digital signage maintenance and ongoing operational costs, a few factors need to be considered. The type of hardware and software used, how often it needs to be updated, and the availability of technical support all play a role in determining the cost.
Remember that you'll need to factor in software maintenance since many systems require routine updates. Often with cloud-based software, these updates come included in the subscription fee and will be installed remotely. On the other hand, for on-premise software, these expenses can quickly add up-requiring extra staff to install them on-site, not to mention downtime that needs to be factored in.
For hardware, repair and replacement are often not covered under the initial purchase price. The maintenance and warranty costs can be high depending on the manufacturer and type of hardware you purchased. That said, some companies offer extended warranties at an additional price, so it's worth looking into that if possible.
Finally, technical support is essential for any digital signage setup. Having a reliable provider who can help troubleshoot issues quickly and efficiently is key to minimizing downtime and ensuring smooth system operation in the long run. Some providers include these services in their subscription fees, while others charge extra, so make sure to factor this into your budget when choosing a service provider. This can help remove some of the burdens from your IT team, ensuring issues are dealt with quickly and efficiently.
Content Creation Costs - The Under-Looked Expense
Creating digital signage content doesn't come for free. Even if you make the content yourself, there will be additional costs that need tube taken into account. Whether you want to make motion graphics, videos, etc., for your deployment, all have different requirements and costs that should be considered when creating a budget. For instance, stock photos or videos often require licensing fees, which can add up depending on how much graphic media you plan to use for your project. If you decide to create custom imagery instead of stock photos, you should also factor in the cost of hiring photographers, models, and more.
Besides these expenses, there is also the additional cost of having a team in place to manage the entire project. This includes hiring people to write copy, create graphics, and shoot video or photo footage for your projects.
When it comes to digital signage, there are a lot of factors to consider - from the cost of hardware and software to the peripheral costs associated with content creation. By understanding all of the applicable costs upfront, you can plan accordingly and ensure that your digital signage investment pays off.