Cloud-Based-Digital Signage - Myths, Pitfalls, and Failures

Cloud-based digital signage is now available from multiple vendors, and it is important to understand the technology before deciding what would work best for you.

Cloud-based digital signage solutions

What is cloud-based digital signage?

A cloud-based digital signage is a simple media player that should always be connected to the internet, and the media player streams digital signage content from a cloud server, where the content is hosted. The screens owner can manage the content remotely by logging into the cloud digital signage vendors portal and upload, edit, delete and make changes as needed. These changes are streamed in real-time to the media player that is connected to the digital signage screen to display content.

Myth: It is a cost effective and economical solution

Cloud-based digital signage by its nature of infrastructure requires the vendor to host and provide constant streaming of content on their cloud servers – which cost money. Recurring costs of server rental prevents them from offering an economical solution as they have to charge a monthly or an annual fee for their services.

Note: doPublicity does not charge any monthly or annual fee.
Support is included for the 1st year. Extended Support can be purchased on a yearly basis for $99 per license.

Myth: Cloud-based digital signage can run without internet access

Most cloud-based digital signage vendors would have you believe that your signage screens will continue to operate even if your media player is not connected to the web.

Their rationale is based on the assumption that all your content will get downloaded and stored on the media player’s cache. While this may be true, it is also a fact that the media players RAM have limited space for cache as its primary usage is for loading the operating system and any associated applications that are needed to run – consequently leaving only a small portion for browser caching.

The RAM is designed to delete any part that it feels redundant and prioritizes storage based on the needs of the operating system and application over that of browser caching, which is necessary to run from local RAM memory. This situation will cause the RAM to delete content as and when it deems fit, and lack of internet access will prevent the media player from updating itself and therefore have no content to display.

Also, the media player needs to run content based on a playlist (or schedule) and depends on the internet connection at all times to get this information from the vendor's cloud-based servers. Any drop of internet connection will prevent the media player from communicating with the cloud server and therefore not be able to display content as scheduled.

Even if somehow the content is stored in the RAM cache and the media player needs to initiate the content, lack of internet access will prevent that from happening and no content will be displayed.

Note: doPublicity Digital Signage software application creates a web server on the digital signage media player with all the schedule / playlist details stored locally, which allows it to run even if there is no internet connection. All content is also stored locally in the Flash storage which allows it to be displayed as and when needed, without any lag.

In fact, we have had instances where customers have lost internet access for months and not realized it, while their content continues to be displayed. doPublicity monitors each media player and provides the customer with its status on the Dashboard and be sending email alerts in case of interruption of internet connectivity.

Myth: You need to install cables to connect non-cloud based solutions to a server

Some cloud-based digital signage vendors claim that non-cloud solutions require cabling between your hosted server and display screen – this is nothing but a hollow statement to scare away users who might be looking for a non-cloud signage solution.

No cabling is required as all data is transferred over your existing Wi-Fi network or LAN connection (if you prefer). Setting up the signage solution without wiring is possible as there is no need to host a server.

Myth: You need to hire personnel to manage non-cloud based digital signage solutions

Non-cloud digital signage systems operate using smart technology which does not require the digital signage network owner to invest or install any hosted solution or servers, which consequently eliminates the need for any personnel to manage hardware. The best digital signage solutions use what is known as Distributed Network Architecture, where the content (video, images, and digital signage templates) and their corresponding schedules and playlist are stored on the local media player that is connected to the digital signage TV screen. These media players have smart applications running on them that run in full-automatic mode and have self-diagnosing and self-correcting code. Any lay person can manage these media players and software without the need to hire any personnel.

Myth: Signage content is uninterrupted because it is streaming or cached locally

Content like images and videos need to be initiated from the source, even if it is in the local cache. Assuming the internet is connected, the media player will still need to launch the start of the display from the cloud server which is a distinct lag, and that is evident on the screen.

Note: doPublicity stores all video, images and templates locally on the Flash memory from where the content is served. Local storage not only ensures delivery of the digital signage content but also eliminates lag time between slides, as the initiation of content is all local on the media player and not over the web.

Myth: Free cloud digital signage costs nothing

Free cloud-based digital signage solutions are worth just what you pay for – without any support and leave you at the mercy of your ability to manage the solution.

Myth: Cloud-based digital signage users don’t need to possess any technical or design skills

This is correct to the extent that all new digital signage solutions are easy to use and require relatively no technical or design skills. What these vendors fail to mention is that digital signage has two components the hardware /software solution and digital signage content. What most cloud-based digital signage seems to refer to is the hardware /software solution with no emphasis on content, its creation or design aspects; which is left up to your imagination or mercy of graphic designers who charge an arm and a leg.

The alternative to these expensive graphic designers is the use of digital signage templates that are easy to use and can be used to easily create digital menu boards, advertisements, event, schedules, live weather and other signage content.

Myth: Non cloud-based digital signage solutions are not scalable

Accepting the fact that cloud digital signage solutions are scalable, so are other solutions like doPublicity which use media player hosted local content to display and has been scaled by customers across the US and all managed from a single location.

Myth: Cloud-based digital signage is more secure than other solutions

This statement again is only partially true – other solutions provide the same or higher levels of security. doPublicity for example even offers a two-factor authentication system that is similar to what banks and other businesses like Google and Facebook use for preventing fraud and security of their customers.

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