College campuses face digital signage’s hidden costs

Skimping on digital content, Sarubbi said, could be just as risky as having a blank digital screen for part of the school day. Without visuals and sound that match those in TV shows and commercials, students are likely to tune out the signs, no matter how unavoidable on their walks to and from class.

“People expect signage content to be great because our TVs are such great quality,” she said. “We’re used to high definition. We’re used to great sound quality, and we don’t necessarily care if the sign is brand name or not. People care most about content.”

Goldstein said the importance of digital signage content would be better understood by campus technologists as signage purchases become more common in higher education.

“There just can’t be a very high tolerance for sub-par content on anyone’s signage,” he said. “I think people will get that concept.”

More than 2,200 academic sites added digital signage to their campuses in 2011, according to Northern Sky Research, a market research and consulting firm based in Massachusetts.

About 1,500 campuses added digital signage in 2010, and more than 8,400 digital signage screens were installed on North American educational sites last year.

That number is expected to grow beyond 13,000 screens in 2011, according to Northern Sky Research.

Higher-education officials could have even more insight into campus use of digital signage networks this fall, when the Platt Retail Institute (PRI)—a leading researcher of digital communication tools—will study digital signage on as many as 20 campuses nationwide after the company’s research showed that 97 percent of college students prefer digital communication to the traditional paper or static signs.

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