Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A year (plus) of Digital Signage information!

-Deacon Wardlow
It's that time of year again. The days, weeks, and months have FLOWN by and we're all in the countdown scramble to finish, close, and clean things up before the year's end. We hope the blog articles have been informative and helpful for you all and we're thankful for your readership, feedback, support, and encouragement. This makes article #151 (not bad, 151 articles written since this blog was started in April 2012).

We hope you all have safe and wonderful (very likely hard-earned) time away from work coming up over the holidays. We'll be picking up the articles again from January 8th. So much has been written and said over the last year and a half, it's worth a breakdown. If you find yourself with a moment (or a client in need of some answers), check out the information below (broken up, as best I could, into categories for easier information sourcing). Click on any title to go to the article. You can also search (in the search bar above) by a specific topic, author, or subject you're looking for. If you're a Vantage LED partner (or want to be one) definitely go to our site and checkout Vantage University. We've got some great courses (videos, presentations, resources, and tools) coming out in the year ahead and plenty in there for immediate use.

Happy Holidays (whatever you're celebrating) and have a safe and happy new year. See you in 2014!

-The "geek speak specialists" at Vantage LED blogspot.

Digital Signage Sign Tech & Spec:
  1. What to Expect when you're expecting your LED Sign...
  2. Providing Correct Power Voltage to LED Signs and Why 120 VAC and 240 VAC are Both Important
  3. Power Supplies
  4. Don't get screwed, modern module securing systems
  5. Front Access Design Considerations for Digital Signage and Hinged Faces
  6. Factors Affecting Image Quality on Outdoor Digital Signage
  7. How Color Values are calculated
  8. Viewing Size vs Cabinet size (big differences can add up to false $$ savings)
  9. Controller options for LED Signage
  10. Virtual Resolution (aka pixel sharing)
  11. LED Sign Components
  12. Service Access options for LED Signs
  13. The truth behind "ultra bright" LEDs
  14. Communication Methods for LED Signs
  15. Myths and Misunderstanding about LED Signs
  16. The good and bad of LED Signs and how to tell the difference
  17. Powder Coating
  18. New Coating materials (Dragon Skin)
Digital Signage Content:
  1. The New Expectations for LED Sign Content
  2. Professional Content is a Must!
  3. Real World Effects of LEDs per Pixel on Outdoor Digital Signage
  4. Time and Temperature on LED Be or Not to Be
  5. Quality LED Signs Managed Responsibly Improve the Community
  6. Professional Quality Content on LED Signs Benefit Resellers Directly
  7. How 'LinkedIn' is Digital Signage for you/your clients?
  8. Why DS Fails
  9. Keeping Content Current/interesting
  10. Ensuring text comes through LOUD AND CLEAR
  11. LED Signs & Free Speech
  12. Create a call to action with Digital Signage
  13. The benefits of PSAs (Public Service Announcement)
  14. Get the most from your website (Digital Signage is online as well)
  15. Being a good neighbor with LED Signage
  16. Content scheduling/creation (planning ahead)
Digital Signage Sales 101:
  1. Without a defined desire, there is no sale.
  2. ADAPT the sales technique
  3. Be a "go-to" person; know your LED Sign and DS information!
  4. What does Digital Signage Cost?
  5. Sell your company first, product second...
  6. Why Cheap LED Signs Sell Well But Fail
  7. Door to Door is Dead
  8. Sticker Shock Syndrome; dealing with cost objections
  9. LED Sign Sales- Closing Technique Suggestions- 1 of 3
  10. Closing Technique Suggestions- Installment 2 of 3
  11. Closing Technique Suggestions- 3 of 3
  12. Objection Handling Part 1 of 2
  13. Objection Handling Part 2 of 2
  14. Stop selling and start solving - Customer Centered Selling
  15. Better is Better, Always!
  16. Value Based Selling Is a Win for Local Sign Companies
  17. The cost of a system - Good/Quick/Cheap... Speed, Quality, and Price with LED Signs/DS Solutions.
  18. Wow Your Customer
  19. Build bridges, don't burn them
  20. Business Relationship Suggestions
Why LED Signage?:
  1. Use Outdoor Digital Signage to Give Thanks, Spread the Holiday Cheer, and Grow Your Organization.
  2. Outdoor Digital Signage Helps Focus and Sustain Advertising to Potential Patrons
  3. A Road-Map to Success is Important With Digital Signage
  4. Common Misconceptions About LED Signs
  5. How an LED Sign can help business
  6. LED Signage earning potential
Costs for Digital Signage:
  1. How much can an LED Sign Cost?
  2. Short term gain, long term costs (cost of a "cheap" LED Sign)
  3. "Value Line" vs. Single Level of quality (i.e. why there aren't iPhone or Droid "lite" versions)
  4. Is an LED Sign (or any Digital Signage) an investment or a purchase?
  5. Selling the value of a Digital Signage Solution (LED Sign, LCD, or other)
Digital Signage 'How To':
  1. Networking Basics
  2. Securing Wireless ( WiFi ) Communications for LED Signs
  3. System monitoring obstacles and options
  4. Check The Power! Electrical Supply and Outdoor Digital Signage
  5. Basic LED Sign Troubleshooting and Logic
  6. LED Sign Permitting Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
  7. Finding a reputable installer for LED Signage
  8. Sourcing the best LED Sign manufacturer for your business
  9. Calculating Power Costs
  10. Information on the National Electrical Code as applied to LED Signage
  11. Electrical Safety Certification Marks explained
  12. Different LED Sign Sales approaches
  13. Project Management with LED Signage
  14. Embracing new technology for business
  15. CRM/ERP Options for your business
  16. Simple LED Sign troubleshooting
Digital Signage 'Need To Know':
  1. Boiling Down the 7 Key Elements of Digital Signage
  2. What's the best solution for a Digital Signage system?
  3. Isn't "The Cloud" the Same as Wireless Connectivity?
  4. Test drive an LED Sign (aka EMC) BEFORE buying...
  5. Make your LED Sign Stand Out From the Pack
  6. What makes a good LED Sign?
  7. Why cloud control for your LED sign is better than using localized software
  8. How an LED Sign Manufacturer's Approach to Support Can Affect Your Reputation
  9. Scrap Temperature Probes!
  10. Notes on Successfully Implementing an LED Sign Program
  11. Border Versus Borderless LED Displays
  12. Things To Consider During a Live LED Sign Demonstration
  13. Why simple software is better with DS.
  14. FAQ about LED Signs for IT Professionals, End Users and the Industry
  15. Custom Content -vs- "Stock" or In-House Content
  16. CMYK vs RGB and Other Design Factors for Digital Content on LED Signs.
  17. New technology making things simpler with LED Signage
  18. Insurance and Warranty
  19. What is Pixel Pitch and How Does it Relate to LED Signs?
  20. Explaining LED Sign Technology Simply and Effectively to Your Audience Directly
  21. The Cloud, Cloudware, and LED Signs
  22. Statistical Analysis of the Relationship between On-Premise Digital Signage and Traffic Safety
  23. Educate yourself and your clients, before the competition does it for you!
  24. How an LED Sign Manufacturer's Approach to Design and Engineering Can Affect Installations
  25. Don't Be the Beta for a Manufacturer
  26. China Manufacturing Stumbles
  27. Parts and Labor doesn't always equal warranted repairs...
  28. Exponential Growth for the LED Sign Industry?
  29. When comparing LED Sign solutions (EMC/EDS/CMS/Etc), make sure you're getting what you expect
  30. You Deserve to Make a Profit on LED Signs
  31. What does Web App/Cloudware mean for Digital Signage/LED Signs?
  32. US Based Support for LED Signs is More Than Phones and Technicians
  33. Own It! Be The Trusted Authority on LED Signs and Educate Truth
  34. Is Anything Really ‘Made’ in the USA?
  35. Domestic LED Sign manufacturers vs. off-shore
  36. Importing from China
  37. Low quality systems' affect on business
  38. Supply Chain Logistics on components
  39. Beware of a "bait-and-switch"
  40. The Ghost of LED Signs past (the cost of going with the cheapest option)
  41. Heat
  42. How to protect against heat
  43. Power (undervoltage)
  44. Power Supplies
  45. Is after service an after-thought?
  46. The Value of a warranty
  47. On Site Service Warranties (underwritten vs. carried by the manufacturer)
  48. Proper Conformal Coating
  49. Silicone Coating on the back of LED Modules
  50. The cost of going cheap on component choices from a manufacturer

Please comment here or send questions or requests for information to Vantage LED has white paper resources and more educational material on the website (, please check it out when you have a moment. Note all posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically noted.attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically noted.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Digital Signage Need To Know: The New Expectations for LED Sign Content

-Scott Hofheins

You guessed it; another post on content. I know we hammer on this pretty hard (content), but it is for good reason.  We see too many people using LED signs ineffectively, and we truly want to change that. Let me preface this by clarifying that I am talking about outdoor LED signs, viewed by moving vehicles. Specialized LED signs like indoor wayfinding screens, or stock tickers have their own unique approaches to content.

Today, I’m going to talk about what an LED sign IS, is NOT, and what it CAN be. But first, let’s begin with what an LED sign WAS. The first outdoor LED signs were an evolution of incandescent reader boards that used a matrix of lights to create messages like Time and Temperature, or scrolling stocks. Using smaller, more efficient lights like LED’s were a natural evolutionary step. Their operation is reflected by some of the terms carried over from that era like, Moving Message Center, Scrolling Marquee and Electronic Message Board. Seeing text move across a message center, away from Las Vegas, was a unique experience for viewers who were used to static signs or manual letter boards. If the business could afford a full color unit, it was even better. Text was king, and simple stick figure animations were top of the line.

Cut to 2013/2014. The power of our technology has increased exponentially since the 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s. We hold smart phones in our hand that we watch HD movies on, take calls, level and hang a picture, and play games with flying birds. We get news, media, and updates on our friends in rich full color content. Static signs, neon, and letter boards aren’t even a blip on the radar compared to what viewers expect to see these days. They want their information Fast, Relevant, and Beautiful.

An LED Sign is: An outdoor advertising tool able to demand your viewers attention through colorful, fresh content.
It is NOT: A outdoor wrist watch with a date feature, or a massive temperature notification device.  

This used to get peoples attention, but not anymore. Use conditional messaging instead if your software offers it. That way, your temperature message will only play when people want to see it, if it’s extremely cold, or extremely hot.

An LED Sign is: A place to provide relevant, colorful communication that is direct and to the point
It is NOT: A bulletin board with as many listings of events as possible on one screen.

Drivers have so many other things to focus on, including other LED signs. You must make sure your message is simple, quick, but still colorful and memorable.

An LED Sign is: A dynamic call to action, with regular content updates and real time information.
It is NOT: A Ronco “Set it and Forget It” rotisserie grill.

The content must be fresh and updated to speak directly to your target viewership. Display your message, then tell them what to do next.

An LED sign is: An outdoor display, meant to be viewed from a distance by moving vehicles or cars.
It is NOT: An HD television.

Content for an LED sign must be formatted for the sign size. LED signs may contain thousands of pixels (64x128), but an HD television contains millions (1920x1080). Thats a pretty big difference and it MUST be accounted for to produce readable content.

I believe this last comparison is one of the most important. You cannot scan a business card or event poster and put it on a typical LED sign. It will NOT look good. It would be like taping your business card to a wall 6 ft away, and trying to read it while driving past. .

So what CAN your LED sign be? Content plays a significant role in this. Just “getting the information out there” isn’t enough anymore.

Demand Attention
I don’t mean sign twirling, flashing, or crazy messages. Viewers are smarter than that and those approaches will give you negative attention. I’m talking about demanding attention by classy, professional content. It’s more than just formatting the resolution of an image or typing the right text , you have to format the layout, text size, contrast, colors and shape.

“Come on in and see our beautiful new bedroom and living room sets, on sale now until new years day” might be just fine for a print ad,  but it’s effectiveness drops considerably on an LED sign, even though it may technically fit on the screen. Your message has to be to the point and readable. Put yourself in the viewers shoes, are they really going to need all that text to get the message? The answer is usually no. Simplify your messages, and make them readable. Grab their attention with “Big Sale!” then follow up with details “ New Bedroom & Living Room Sets” then close with “Sale Ends New Years Day!”.

Keep it updated! Talk to your audience directly throughout the day. Schedule specific messages for groups like commuters, lunch goers, families, and tourists. Know your audience, and talk directly to them.

As I mentioned before, viewers demand much more out of their content these days. The content has to look good. Details matter, and will be noticed by viewers sometimes consciously, but often subconsciously. This will determine in the few seconds they have whether they want to pay attention to your sign, or not.

If you don’t have the time to focus on managing your content, then do not be afraid to have someone do it for you. Use a content creation service, or contract a designer who specializes in LED sign content. It will be well worth it.

I challenge you to take a new look at your LED sign, and see what it CAN be. Even older LED signs can be improved by quality content and management. Talk to your sign company, search on google, see what you can find out there to help you utilize the full potential of your LED display.


I hope this post has been informative and helpful. As usual, I welcome ALL constructive comments. Please feel free to comment and add anything I’ve missed, or additional tips you may have regarding this topic. Please visit for many other resources, white papers, and of course: Great looking LED Signs!

**All posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically stated.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Digital Signage Need to Know: Boiling Down the 7 Key Elements of Digital Signage

There are a million lists that define "Must Haves", "Absolute Requirements", "Sage Industry Advice" and "Never Dispute These Points" in our LED sign world today. Promises are made and assurances are given and specifications are sworn to and sealed with a few drops of the CEO's blood before the project is shipped.

So many claims, so little time. How does a Sign Company wade through all the hyperbole and overstatements and make the correct choice when selecting an LED display manufacturer?

It's hard to trust anyone or their claims made . Even Holiday Season claims are in doubt 'He's making a list, checking it twice, going to find out who's naughty or nice!" How did he do this? A phone tap or CCTV installed in a kid's room? No, more than likely just a way to try and control the behavior of an unruly child for 364 days per year.

But, borrowing from the spooky 1990's, American TV show the X-Files- "The truth is out there!"

In the LED Sign Industry, the holy grail of reasonableness regarding LED sign selection is called "The 7 Key Elements of Digital Signage".  This list is embraced by the Digital Signage Federation and the list makes a lot of obvious sense:

1. Hardware
2. Software
3. Connectivity
4. Content
5. Operations
6. Design
7. Business

During a recent MSSA (Mid-South Sign Association) seminar mentored by Brian Gorg, Director of the Digital Sign Federation, he suggested focusing on just 2 of these elements rather than all 7. The assumption is made that top manufacturers all execute at a high level with respect to hardware having had many years to refine their product. What then to focus on?

Brian suggested that Software and Content were perhaps the top 2 of the 7 Key Elements. Adding to these 2 elements he further suggested that "Partnering" was an additional component to consider.  The following is my review of these elements:

Software: Cloudware, Cloud-based software is the future. No need to store, edit, constantly update software and waste time with antiquated systems. What about simplicity? Plug and play is not quite a reality yet, but it's a lot closer than just a couple years ago. Speed? Reliability? Yes, and more yes!

There are superior choices available in the marketplace- do your research but state-of-the-art software is now a reality.

Content: Many end-users buy an expensive LED sign and then run poorly produced content. In the early days, when LED signs first hit the streets, their uniqueness and rarity brought a lot of attention to any business running any message. Even a gray-scale (monochrome) LED display used to attract a lot of attention even without animation or graphics. This is not so true today. Great content is must to deliver on the economic promise of the LED sign. What manufacturer provides content as part of standard offering?

Much debate also exists as to "great" content. If you are an end-user, skilled in making world-classs pizzas, and your 9-year old gifted son, a master of Photoshop provides you with and example of "great" content, it may or may not be all "that great"! Professionally produced content, using USA designers and digital artists, is the way to produce consistent and high impact content!

Partnering: Trust is the key word. Is your manufacturer committed to making your Sign Company an outrageous success by doing end-user demos and not selling their LED sign directly to your customer and "allowing" you to install it? What about listening to your issues, responding quickly to changing business conditions and having engineering talent available to support you?

The 7 Key Elements of the Digital Sign Industry are comprehensive and are a good source of reference. The assumption that only 2 (or so) of the  Key Elements are vital is based on the assumption (again) that you are working with a top supplier. First you have to identify and select a top supplier. If you are still importing or trying to find some miracle LED sign product that gives you world-class quality at a deeply discounted price then then you need to study all 7 Key Elements and perhaps another dozen or so before buying anything. There is a difference in suppliers.

The truth is still out there and is easy to find. The "Googler" awaits! But don't stop there. Call manufacturers and speak to real people. Ask to speak to and engineer and find someone to verify and validate how they support the 7 Key Elements.

Execute due diligence or discover the phrase "Caveat Emptor", let the buyer beware, the hard way.

Check it out!

These comments belong to me, Mike Prongue, and do not reflect the views, opinions, hopes or dreams of anyone else, anywhere else and this includes Vantage LED. I appreciate your constructive opinion which may be sent to me at