Tips for Deploying Digital Signage in Higher Ed

Emergency notification is one of the biggest benefits and a major factor in ROI. A digital signage pro talks about choosing displays and creating content.

Don’t Forget Content

One of the biggest mistakes schools make when looking at digital signage is that they become obsessed with the displays and the technical specifications. They look at digital signage solely from an IT perspective and forget to consider content.

“They look very technically at the displays and the media players and the mounts and so they end up with phenomenal hardware and great computer processing power and then it all gets installed and they look at each other and go what are we going to put on it? That’s where content becomes the driving factor. How are they going to feed the beast?” says Cahoy.

Content for digital signage can come from almost anywhere. You can pull Twitter feeds, Facebook posts and Flickr photos. You can use content created by your school’s marketing and communications team. If there’s a journalism program at your school you may be able to play campus news updates. If you have the money to spend, there are companies who will create content for you. Regardless of how you generate the content, it’s having enough that is key. Static signs are boring and as Cahoy put it, playing ESPN all day turns the digital displays into glorified TVs.

Measuring ROI

Measuring the return on investment for digital signage is sort of a gray area in education. If you’re not using the displays for advertising or generating revenue then how can you determine a true cost-benefit analysis? The return may not be in terms of direct monetary value.

“A big driving factor behind this is the wow factor,” says Cahoy. “If a perspective student walks into my campus and they look at an old building that has a stodgy smell and paper stuck to the wall they go ‘eh.’ If you build a technology-rich environment, when they’re touring they say this is where I want to go then you could argue ‘hey, over the life of that student I make quite a bit of money.'”

That student will spend money paying tuition, buying books, purchasing a meal plan, etc. In the end the school benefits from the increased revenue. A campus that isn’t as technologically savvy may see enrollment drop leading to a decrease in revenue.

The other major benefit of digital signage is emergency alerts. With the push of a button students and staff can be made aware of a potential threat such as an impeding weather related disaster or a gunman on campus. Sending out the proper notification in a timely manner can help keep everyone on premise safe.

“You don’t want to put a price tag on somebody’s life,” says Cahoy. “There’s a potential risk negation there.”

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