What makes New York’s Times Square such an iconic landmark that is instantly recognizable worldwide? Surely there’s plenty of town squares like that in every major city.
The answer is in two things: screens and sky scrapers.
Well, no it’s actually mainly just one thing: the screens, for which the skyscrapers act like stands that were built to support the digital signages. And that’s all that anyone would notice, if you ask any pedestrian walking across the area. The screens cover all the walls of the buildings all around them, leaving little space unused, while filling them with bright and colourful video advertisements that capture people’s attention, leaving them with a feeling of awe and wonder at the marvels of modern civilization.
Digital signages are the modern conduit for advertising. Interactive signages are also quite similar to digital signages since both look the same and function somewhat similarly as well. But one question separates the both. “What happens when you touch it?” If nothing happens, it is a digital signage and if it responds to your touch, it is an interactive signage.
This is the age of information, where media-based content is king in today’s world and this constitutes the backdrop ideal for signages to thrive. So, let’s explore the differences between each of the types of signages and their applications as well.
Although both the signages may appear similar, the main difference is in the intended purpose and how it is used. Digital signage is used to display static or dynamic content, such as advertisements, information, or entertainment, on a screen or a display. Interactive signage, on the other hand, allows users to interact with the content on the screen using touch or gesture controls.
Digital signages can be used to play ads, and display the profile, portfolio and history of the business the company lobby/ reception. They are a direct upgrade to wall posters, since digital signages can display dynamic content like slideshows and videos rather than static content. Hence, they can attract the customer’s attention more easily. The business can leverage this advantage by showcasing the latest offers and hottest discounts with a timer counting down to indicate the end of the sale.
Interactive signages are more of a one-on-one interaction tool, where the company can reply to the customer interactions through the pre-programmed responses in the kiosk. The interactive signage can be used to engage and interact with customers on many fronts. This is an upgrade over regular digital signages in most ways as it creates a strong personal relationship between the customer and the business, which can translate to long term trust and ultimately growth for the business.
But in order to do that, the UI must be designed and customized to offer informative and useful contents that the user can navigate through intuitively designed menus, so that the whole experience can add real value to the user, thus reward them for interacting.
The difference in terms of targeted audiences and content is that digital signages, like movie screens are more of a medium for mass communication, where huge crowds of people can view the content, without anyone being allowed to interrupt the flow or change what’s going on. In contrast, interactive signages are more of a personalized experience targeting a narrower segment of population, who the business owner wants to appeal to and who they would like to interact with the signage. Since they are a smaller group of people, they can interact with the signage without disturbing the experience for others and the content itself will have been curated to match their interests.
Digital signage typically displays pre-programmed content that is not meant to be changed by the user. Interactive signage, on the other hand, allows users to control and interact with the content on the screen, such as accessing information, making selections, or playing games.
Digital signage typically uses simple technology, such as a media player, a display, and a power source, to display the content. Interactive signage, on the other hand, requires more advanced technology, such as touch screens, gesture recognition sensors, and software that allows for user interaction.
So, if Interactive signages are better than digital signages, why not use the same thing for both? - You might ask. But because of the additional features and more technology involved, Interactive signages typically costs more than digital signages, which will make budget conscious businesses pick digital signages as the default, cheaper options and go for interactive signages only if necessary. Moreover, interactive signages require more effort and attention to detail to set up, since their whole software user interface and applications running all have to be developed with each customer interaction in mind.
In comparison, digital signages offers the advantage of an easier, simpler and more straightforward procedure of installation and setup, which may ultimately be the preferred option for most clients.
There are also design differences for signages. Depending on the mounting position, signages are of three types: Ceiling mount, wall mount and standee kiosks. Since the digital signages are meant for a larger audience, they are likely to have larger screens and mounted on the ceiling, since they’re meant to be viewed at a distance by larger crowds. Whereas, interactive signages displays are smaller, usually within 32” and are either mostly in standee mode for maximum accessibility and the best experience for individuals. Apart from this, wall mounting is the most common option for both type of signages in general, since they have the advantage of using lesser floor space, while standee kiosks occupy the most commercial space.
While digital signages perform the same functions as any household TV, there are certain key differences that make signages and kiosks better suited for business applications, particularly in commercial environments. For instance, the electricity bills are much higher when running TVs in continuous operation when compared to digital kiosks, while the latter can last for many years longer than regular TVs. To know more, read our blog on the same topic. Click here.
Also to note is that although all signages come under the term “kiosk”, there are a few differences that separate conventional kiosks from signages as kiosks are more interactive devices with smaller screens that act as a point of transaction whereas, signages are more like TVs, made for consuming visual media, for information sharing.
Why should the college professors waste their valuable time recording the attendance for the class, that too every hour? And why should they do it when the signage can do it within a second? The interactive signage can be fitted with a camera on top to be fully video conference ready. Using advanced video analytics, it can detect the faces of every student in the class and record the attendance into the database immediately. This also comes in handy for conducting online classes or webinars, in situations where the students are at their homes or remote locations due to quarantine rules during a pandemic, for example.
Digital signages can be used to display general information that would be useful for the public. As such, it is the best format for advertising, which is the most important use case for businesses.
It can be used just outside retail outlets, on the outside walls, as standees on the streets or even as large digital billboards hung over the building. They can also be used inside the shops, displaying the same content of advertisements, product information, and promotions. This can help drive sales and increase customer engagement. This is especially so when compared to nearby local competition who lack such facilities, as the customer may see the signages from outside and walk into that store instead of the other stores. This increases revenue, footfall and brand value as well.
If the shop wants to take it a step further, they can install Interactive signages inside the shop to provide customers with access to product information, reviews, and recommendations. This can increase customer engagement and further drive-up sales by offering them transparent and useful information about their upcoming purchases. An added bonus is that the business can collect user data and seek to personalize their experiences and suggest exactly what they’re looking for.
Digital signages in airports and train stations can be used to display flight or train schedules, weather updates, and other information that can be helpful for travelers. Add in an interactive signage or kiosk and they can view more in-depth information like the live running status of trains, and routes/ stops list of each vehicle and even book tickets for the journey.Similarly, in hospitals can be used to display information about patient services, directions to different departments, and emergency instructions.
Interactive signage standees can act as wayfinding kiosks in the above-mentioned places along with other large campuses like parks and universities. The visitors can pan and zoom into the map of the place while standing at the “you are here” spot, where the kiosk is at.Digital signages in corporate offices can be used to display company news, employee announcements, and other information that can help to increase employee engagement.
Placed in the reception area, it can be used to showcase the company’s profile, portfolio and awards to visitors and clients to make an immediate positive impact on them.
Interactive signages are used best for close interactive sessions such as for education and meetings. For example, they can be used as a video conferencing tool with many participants in office and classroom settings. Other common use for interactive signages include industrial expos, exhibitions, theme parks and museums, where they can be used to provide information about exhibits and products of interest to the visitors.
As we have seen in the examples so far, digital signages and interactive signages don’t compete with each other, but they complement each other perfectly. the digital signage placed outside to display general information and ads which shouldn’t be interfered with, while the interactive signage is sitting inside the shop waiting to answer all the customer’s queries, so as to add value to the shopping experience of the individual customer. Hence a business can employ both at the same shop and see huge benefits.