Pixels vs. paper: Digital signage's 'green' considerations

April 25, 2012 | by Sean Matthews

Most companies, when confronted with "green" considerations, ask "What's in it for me?" The bottom line is that digital signage solutions not only help in the ongoing effort to reverse the effects of 150 years of rapid industrialization, but also are cheaper over time than traditional print mediums when communicating with a large, diverse target audience.

They have something in common with the policies and procedures we will need in the 21st century to effectively correct current changes in our planet's climate: they are long-term solutions.

The larger your audience, the more cost effective communicating with them via digital solutions is. In a single year, printing individual newsletters, posters and mailers may be cheaper than a visual communications investment. However, over multiple years, a visual communications system offers a more effective and inexpensive option:

The purchase price of a digital signage system is a one-time cost, whereas printed communications are a continuing revenue drain that seriously adds up over time.

Print costs rise steadily each year, due to increased paper, printing and transportation costs.

You have a potentially unlimited audience for your digital communications versus a set number based on pre-determined print runs.

Visual digital communications are dynamic, not static like their paper counterparts — digital signage systems can display video, cable feeds, Flash animations, tickers and transitions to grab attention and keep audiences interested.

Digital signage technology can handle hundreds of messages at once, as opposed to the limited space you have to communicate ideas and information in printed materials.

Digital messaging allows immediate corrections and retirement of messages, versus lingering newsletters and printed retractions or apologies.

Some visual communications options, like desktop messaging and RSS feeds, may be cheaper than printing, even in the first year. Technology solutions save paper. Green efforts that are important to every organization, but especially to campus and government users, can be significantly bolstered by using digital solutions instead of print.

The sum of all this is that, in addition to modest but real ecological benefits, a dynamic digital signage solution offers more ways to reach more people at a lower cost per person.

After the first year, you have no further component costs with a digital signage solution. The system and all sundries have been bought and implemented and your continued costs are simply the electricity you use and any maintenance and upgrades needed.

There is also value, though impossible to calculate on a spreadsheet, in presenting your organization in a modern, up-to-date way. Adding sound and movement — through video, Flash, television feeds and tickers — just heightens your perceived value, building trust and confidence in your target audience.

As the environmental and economic challenges of our times are more and more on people's minds, they will naturally, even subconsciously, be attracted to more modern, cleaner, more efficient technology. They will feel like they are moving along with the times, rather than languishing in the past.

Additionally, your audience will be exposed to your messages much more frequently than with printed materials: How often have we received a company newsletter, glanced at it briefly, maybe skimmed an article or two, and then either discarded it in the trash can or put it on the break room table or in the bathroom stall? Digital messages on displays in high-traffic areas expose your audience to your content in frequent, short bursts that make a lasting impact over time through repetition and impactful design.

A final thing to keep in mind is that technology doesn't sit still: People are constantly innovating and improving what already exists and inventing new things that do the same tasks better. As our out-dated power grid and electronic devices become smarter and more energy efficient, the costs of running an electronic message delivery system will come down, while the costs of continuing to use outmoded paper newsletters and the like will get higher and higher. To prosper in the 21st century, it is necessary to keep up with the pace of change and innovation. The benefit is nothing less than the future itself, for us and for our children.

Digital signage systems not only reduce the stress on our ecology, they save you money in the bargain. Now that's change you can take to the bank.

Topics: Corporate Communication , Customer Experience , Display Technology , DOOH Advertising , Green Digital Signage

Sean Matthews / Matthews, the president of software provider Visix and a veteran of the visual communications industry, is credited with a comprehensive corporate reorganization of the company and shepherding in a suite of new digital signage products.
www View Sean Matthews's profile on LinkedIn

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