A blog from someone else in the digital signage industry recently called out those who might be pushing the envelope with marketing claims. One such claim the blogger took issue with: “Digital signage is easy.” That one struck me in particular, because we hear it often from prospects who have preconceived notions about digital signage (usually gained from talking with other vendors) and who are thinking about buying hardware and software, but running their own networks.

The fact is, software has gotten more intuitive, and managing just a handful of screens can be relatively easy. You might be able to handle your network if your content management and distribution needs are basic and your locations number less than 25. Once you go beyond that, though, it’s best to bring in the experts, who can help you avoid the following four perils of DIY digital networks.

Content management requires expertise

Targeting the right piece of content for the right place at the right time is one of the big advantages of digital signage. Better message targeting can increase relevancy and thus the effectiveness of signage. However, it doesn’t happen without considerable time and effort.

It’s true that leveraging dynamic data to populate signage content has simplified management to a certain extent. But depending on the complexity and amount of content and the number of locations that are part of a network, applying the right programming strategy and content mix to a highly targeted audience can still be downright daunting.

Content distribution is tricky

“I want to know that each media player is playing the right content.” We also hear this a lot from prospects who have taken the DIY approach (and are talking with us because they regret it).

Content distribution is more than pushing the publish button in your content management system. It’s making sure the content got where it was supposed to and is playing correctly. It also means ensuring that old messages are no longer being shown. Content management software will pinpoint issues, of course. But do you have the time and know-how to fix them?

Service and support are critical

What happens when something goes wrong with your digital signage network?

Nobody likes to talk about it, but the fact is, screens, media players and networks sometimes fail. Think about how long is too long for a screen to be down in your store, restaurant, bank or office. A DIY approach means you don’t have a reliable network operations center to track the status of your solution and take care of issues that arise. The alternative? Waiting for someone to notice and place a call to “technical support” – typically, whoever is handling the system regardless of expertise (more on that below).

Speaking of which: what kind of service and support do you have in place to go onsite and repair or replace hardware? And do you have spares to draw from in case you need to swap out a display or other piece of equipment? Unfortunately, those are things many companies only consider after they have a problem, which doesn’t help you get your signage up and running again as quickly as possible.

Resource needs are significant

One of the biggest reasons we see companies move from a DIY approach to a managed service offering is resources. It’s not only that they’re already working with limited resources; they also don’t have the right ones.

Developing content and managing a digital signage network takes creativity and technical expertise. It also takes time. Organizations often underestimate the amount of it needed to manage a solution, and typically do not have a dedicated team, or even a dedicated person, to manage a fully rolled-out program. With DIY programs, all too often a marketing person with no experience and little training is assigned to manage signage along with the rest of his or her responsibilities.

Any one of those issues can make dealing with your digital signage difficult. Taken together, they’re usually a death blow to a DIY approach. And one failed digital signage initiative means a second one probably will be met with much skepticism. If you believe in digital signage and what it can do for your business, think twice before going the DIY route.

Want to know more about best practices for implementing digital signage?
The Digital Media Iceberg to learn how to create unique and effective customer experiences.