Going green with digital signage makes dollars and sense
When it comes to digital signage, taking an environmentally-friendly approach to communications makes good business sense.
 
And going green with digital signage isn't simply a matter of reducing the environmental impact of your messaging.
 
Replacing traditional signs — whether motivated out of a concern for the environment or simply to communicate more effectively — makes good business sense. To the uninitiated, that statement may be a bit surprising. But for those with experience communicating with both digital and printed signs it should quickly become apparent why the reasons to do the green thing and select digital signage as a communications medium is also a sound business decision.
 
In some past writings, I've enumerated the benefits to the environment of choosing to communicate via digital signage rather than with traditional printed signs. In this column, I'd like to explore some of the real business benefits organizations can realize by going green with digital signage.
 
Cost savings: Could it actually be cheaper to replace environmentally-unfriendly printed signs with the greener alternative of digital signs? Absolutely! Depending upon the type and quantity of printed signs being replaced, it is possible for a digital signage system to pay for itself in less than two years. For example, a casino that relies on lots of backlit transparent signs can reach break even in even less time by replacing them with digital signs. In this instance, the sheer quantity of signs needed to tell patrons about frequently-changing entertainment acts and special offers, along with the expense of the backlit signage medium, make selecting digital signs a financially-wise decision.
 
When it comes to the environment, digital signs can be updated frequently with powerful text, images and even video, and they also eliminate the need to manufacture the transparent plastic film and specialized inks required to print backlit signs and solve the question of proper disposal before it's even raised. Obviously, the specific type and expense of printed signs in use will impact when the financial break-even point is reached by choosing the digital alternative as well as the exact environmental consequences.
 
Message per meter: Closely related to the cost benefit of digital signage vs. printed signs is something I'm dubbing "message per meter." Digital signage networks have an innate ability to play back multiple pages — one after another — in an endless sequence, just as a TV channel plays back a ceaseless lineup of entertainment, commercials, news and other content.
 
That ability means a theoretically unending sequence of desired messages can be played back on a digital signage network. It's almost silly to conjure up how printed signs would do something similar — wallpaper the entire planet? Clearly, when it comes to the number of messages communicated per meter (or whatever unit of measurement you desire) of space, digital signage wins hands down thanks to the element of time.
 
From the perspective of being green, winning the "messages-per-meter" crown makes digital signage a far more environmentally-friendly alternative. From a business perspective, the ability to play back the sequence means more goods and services can be promoted per unit of wall space, which should positively affect sales.
 
Improved workforce productivity: Whether it's printed or digital signage, there is a pretty well-established workflow to creating a given message. The former requires transport of people and actual end product at several points in the process. From the moment paper stock arrives at a printer till the time someone in an organization — or an outside contractor — actually hangs the finished printed sign, the transport never ceases, nor does the carbon footprint associated with that process.
 
On the other hand, the digital signage workflow is far more efficient. There literally is zero transport of physical media and people required between the point of origination of a digital signage page and where it's displayed. Cutting out all of "the middlemen" needed from concept to delivery in a print workflow makes digital signs an attractive alternative from a productivity point of view, and reducing the transport of people and materials makes digital signs the greener choice.
 
Add to the efficiency equation the ability of some digital signage software applications to extract specific information from existing databases and facilities-management software packages to automatically create digital signage pages, and the positive impact digital signage can have on the productivity of an organization becomes even clearer.
 
With benefits like these, it's clear going green with digital signage not only helps our environment but also is a sound business strategy.
 
Little is director of business development at Keywest Technology and a charter member of the Digital Screenmedia Association with 20 years of experience helping professionals use technology to effectively communicate their marketing messages.

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