Digital Signage [The Complete Guide]

Digital signage enables businesses to share information, promote offers, and attract customers. But what exactly is it and how does it work in practice? Read on to find out.

1. What is digital signage?

Digital signage refers to the use of technologies such as LCD, LED, and projection to display content including images, video, streaming media, and information. From retail stores to restaurants, to office buildings and outdoor advertising, digital signage is all around us, and its use is widespread (and growing).

From the overarching technology to the individual displays, lots of terms fall under the digital signage umbrella. We explain a few of them in more detail for you here:

A digital signage display is an entire system that makes up what the end user sees. This includes the software, the screen and any other aspects.

Digital signage technology relates to the physical hardware required to power a digital signage solution. This can include screens, media players, network components, mounts, and more.

On the other hand, digital signage software is the solution that enables content to be created and displayed on screens. Digital signage software can be split into four main categories:

  1. Software that lives on a media player or inside a display
  2. Content management/distribution software
  3. Device management software
  4. Content creation software

A digital signage player plays media files such as images, videos, web pages, and IPTV screens, and displays them visually on digital screens.

More advanced digital signage players can:

  • Report on individual media through proof of play
  • Report on the health and status of the media player
  • Interrupt screen displays to share topical announcements
  • Synchronise content across different media players for maximum impact

Got a question about digital signage? We’d be happy to help you answer it. Click here to get in touch.

2. How digital signage works

If you’ve ever wondered how digital signage works, you’re not alone. A complete digital signage system is made up of three key components:


1. A content management system (CMS)

This is where you upload any assets such as images, graphics, information, and videos that you want displayed on your signs. Explore digital signage CMS in more detail here.


2. A digital signage player

Once you’ve uploaded your assets to your CMS, they’re sent across your network to your media player or an individual computer. Vendors often package these with your chosen digital signage software.


3. A digital screen

Your digital screen is where your chosen content will appear. There are several variables to consider when selecting the right screen, such as price, functionality, quality, durability, and location.

3. Types of digital signage

There are hundreds of different types of digital signage solutions on the market. Whether you’re wandering around a retail store, shopping mall, or airport, sitting in a waiting room, or filling up on petrol at a nearby station, digital signage can be found in multiple sizes and configurations.

Despite the variation in size, all digital signage solutions feature a flat screen and come in the following options:

Digital Posters

Digital posters are as simple as digital signage gets, appearing as posters using LCD screens laid flat against a wall. They’re often housed in a streamlined LCD enclosure.

If you’re new to digital signage, digital posters are a great place to start. They’re easy to create and install, can be used both portrait and landscape, and don’t take up much room. This makes them ideal when space is limited or for use as digital menu boards and point of sale advertisements.

Try out our free templates.



Free-Standing Digital Advertisement Displays

Floor-mounted display enclosures are more significant examples of digital signage, ideal for making a statement. Free-standing displays are particularly useful for interactive use, such as digital signage kiosks that feature touch screen capability instead of LCD TVs.

Ceiling-Mounted Digital Signage

Less obtrusive digital signage can be hung from the ceiling as a means of displaying information. Ceiling-mounted digital signage is less obviously noticeable, however it’s ideal if you’re looking to produce something less obtrusive than a free standing display.



Outdoor Digital Signage

Outdoor digital signage has become increasingly popular. However, LCD enclosures must be waterproof and contain adequate cooling, heating and airflow systems to ensure they’re safe for use outside.

Outdoor digital signage can be used in a similar way to indoor displays, replacing the more traditional printed billboards we’re used to seeing.

4. Cloud-based digital signage software

On-premise vs. cloud technology is a hot topic today, with companies like Amazon famously launching cloud-based platforms including Amazon Web Services (AWS), which generated over $10bn in revenue in 2016.

Like any cloud-based platform, digital signage software that operates from the cloud (such as DatabeatOMNI) offers numerous benefits for users:

  • Making it easy to scale
  • Reducing costs
  • Removing the need for hardware support
  • Enabling you to update and publish content from virtually anywhere - this is what we call screen publishing (see below).

Introducing: Screen Publishing
Creating digital signage using simple software

For many, “digital signage” has become shorthand for hardware – high-definition displays and monitors. While digital signage is a globally-used term, at Databeat we believe in describing exactly what we do — publishing content to screens.

What is screen publishing?

Screen publishing is the process of publishing content to a screen using cloud-based software. 

It's all about empowering organisations to have more control of the content they display. It’s the difference between what you can broadcast and what you want to broadcast.

Many of us are familiar with digital signage just from observing the many solutions we encounter and are exposed to daily — from digital ad posters in shopping malls, stores, and restaurants, to departure boards at airports, train stations, and bus stops.

Screen publishing looks beyond the store windows you’re used to seeing and into the future, where its use cases extend to the community and workplace (such as floorplans and meeting rooms respectively).

To learn more about screen publishing, download our ebook, ‘Everything You Need to Know About Screen Publishing’ today.

Find out more about screen publishing

Cutters Oslo City

5. Why digital signage is important

To survive in today’s fast-paced world, companies must do two things well:

  1. Sell more products and services by engaging their customers
  2. Increase employee productivity by connecting the workplace

When rolled out properly, digital display solutions help companies to achieve these twin goals.

Modern digital signage is one of the most effective ways to communicate with target audiences; in fact, research suggests it reaches more viewers than social media posts or internet ads.

"70% of people recall having seen a digital video display in the past month, versus just 43% on the internet, and 41% on Facebook"

Powerful digital display software like DatabeatOMNI allows companies to easily get their messages in front of the right audience, at the right time, and in the right place. Born in the cloud, these targeted messages can be updated instantly from anywhere with an internet connection.

Employees are also far more productive when they are tuned into a company’s mission and goals.

Digital displays in the workplace can be a powerful tool for connecting employees, especially across multiple locations.

The McKinsey Global Institute found that productivity improves by 20-25% in organisations with closely connected employees

Utilising digital display technology not only improves your employees’ work life, but it can also have a positive effect on your bottom line.

Digital signage can also be used to connect employees with your company’s culture by encouraging them to share user-generated content so that they feel part of the team. Digital displays can equally be harnessed to provide ongoing training and recognise achievements to motivate future performance.

Need more reasons to invest in digital signage software? Check out our article with 10 more reasons to be using digital signage.


6. The benefits of digital signage

Being able to communicate your business’ message effectively, at the right time, in the right place, is essential for engaging your customers — whether it’s in a store, at a shopping mall, in a restaurant, or at the airport. Digital signage makes this possible.

In fact, digital signage vs. static signage boasts numerous benefits for businesses, including:

Reducing perceived wait time

Digital signage improves the customer experience by keeping customers preoccupied while waiting in line. Keeping your customers entertained using digital signage ultimately helps to reduce the perceived wait time, minimising frustration.

Change ads whenever you want - with ease

Unlike print advertising, where the lead time is typically a minimum of six weeks, digital signage can be updated whenever (and wherever if built in the cloud). This enables you to change your displays depending on variables like the weather, recent events, and other topical subjects. This means your ads will always be relevant to your target audience.

Reducing print and costs

Digital signage is less costly to develop and run than print ads. It’s also more dynamic, enabling you to run more timely campaigns that target a specific (e.g. local) group of people.

Increasing sales

Provided that your digital signage is utilised at the right time, in the right place, it’s an effective way to increase your sales. Ensuring your content is directly relevant to your target audience will ultimately ensure it’s a valuable investment for your business.

Encourages customer interaction

Digital signage is also a powerful tool to facilitate customer interaction. This is especially true of touch screens that encourage customers to fulfil an action, such as downloading an offer or signing up to your company’s email newsletter.

Complements online marketing efforts

Another benefit of digital signage is that it can complement your existing online marketing efforts, often containing a similar message, but expressed to a very specific audience and/or location. Digital signage is also a practical tool, as your online marketing work can often be reused and repurposed.

Save time on testing ads

Digital signage makes it quick to update and publish new ads. This makes it easy to test which marketing messages and visuals perform best in various environments. Over time, you will build up a more accurate picture of what works well (and what doesn’t) for your target audience.

Enables you to leverage video

Finally, digital signage enables you to incorporate more engaging content such as video footage to captivate your audience. Unlike a print ad, which is limited in its appeal, videos are bound to get more attention and be more memorable.

7. When to use digital signage

As a general rule, digital signage should be used any time you want to engage, inform, and entertain an audience. It’s an ideal tool for getting your message across and sharing your story, whether you’re targeting customers, employees, or visitors.

Is digital signage right for you?

Here are some questions to consider when assessing whether or not digital signage could benefit your business:

  • Do you have a growing need to reach and engage large audiences?
  • Is it important to you for your content to be timely and dynamic/easily adaptable?
  • Does your business need to promote new products/services?
  • Are you keen to improve your company’s brand image?
  • Is the customer experience very important to you?


8. Digital signage best practices

Whether you’re using a DIY digital signage solution or a more sophisticated solution like DatabeatOMNI, ensure you follow these digital signage best practices to achieve the best possible result from your displays.

1. Ensure your messaging is clear and accessible. Pay attention to font size, typeface, and white space to ensure your digital signage is easily readable — even from a distance.

2. Design your digital signage according to how it will be received. Whether your digital signage is situated at a point of transit,  point of wait, or point of sale, understanding how it will be viewed helps to ensure your message is conveyed effectively.

3. Perfect your visuals. Ensure that any visual material you use complements your existing message, rather than detracting from it. All images should be of a high quality and your display shouldn’t appear cluttered.

4. Ensure your call to action is clear and compelling. If you want customers or employees to take action after viewing your digital signage, it’s important to keep your instruction as clear and concise as possible.

5. Be intentional with your timing. Not only is it important that your digital display content is topical, but it’s important to bear in mind how it will be read in the environment. For example, a fast-paced environment like a shopping mall should have faster screen changes than a surgery waiting room.

6. Assess and measure your results.  When it comes to digital signage, practice makes perfect. It takes time to hone and tailor your message to customers, but regularly reviewing performance and making iterative improvements will help you to achieve your goal.

For more digital signage tips and tricks, download our resource, ‘8 Best Practices for Creating Captivating Content’ today.

9. Using digital signage in your sectors


Using digital signage in retail allows businesses to reach and engage their target customers. From increasing brand awareness to promoting new products, digital displays help businesses catch the attention of their audience to ultimately boost sales.

GANT uses digital signage to promote its products and offers.

Find out more




From fast food to fine dining, digital signage allows restaurants to create menu boards and interactive screens to streamline food ordering, promote offers, and reduce waiting times.

Discover how Frich utilises digital signage to display information and content to customers.

Find out more

Corporate communications

In corporate communications, digital signage can be used in a variety of ways, from greeting visitors to sharing news with employees and highlighting achievements. Conference room digital signage is also beneficial to display which meeting rooms have been booked and which ones are free.

Find out more



The entertainment industry presents endless opportunities to utilise digital signage. For example, Tusenfryd, the largest amusement park in Norway uses DatabeatOMNI to promote offers, build suspense, and attract customers.


Digital signage can be used in healthcare to help patients and visitors feel at ease, as well as sharing information about how to stay healthy and any warning signs to look out for.

Healthcare DS



Educational spaces can also benefit from digital signage, which can be used in the form of kiosks to help students find their way around campus, display class and exam timetables, cafeteria menu boards, and more.


From arrival and departure gate information to self-service check-in kiosks, and video players to advertisements, transportation locations such as airports, train stations, and bus stops present an excellent opportunity to utilise digital signage.


10. How to use a digital signage solution

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use digital signage solution, we can help. At Databeat, our experienced digital designers provide support to help share your content and message with your audience. From creating customised templates to motion graphics and content for your company’s campaigns, we make screen publishing simple. Click here to get in touch.

If you've already signed up and are looking to learn more about using the tool here’s a step by step guide to using DatabeatOMNI to upload, schedule, and publish your content to screens.

Don't forget to check out our free PowerPoint templates to save yourself some time while designing your content.

11. Finding the best digital signage solution

At Databeat, we understand it can be a challenge finding the best digital signage solution for your business. That’s why we created DatabeatOMNI, which makes it simple for you to plan, schedule, and publish content to screens.

DatabeatOMNI provides you with everything you need to display great content — on as many screens as you want to — without complex interfaces, specialist training, or additional procurement costs.

Whether you need digital signage for internal comms, advertising, or entertainment, DatabeatOMNI makes it easy. With simple user controls and a single common sense interface, anybody can publish high quality content in seconds.

To discover how we can help you simplify digital signage and to claim your free trial, click the button below.