Colleges and universities that have implemented digital signage on campus are already familiar with the benefits of such systems: quick delivery of information to the entire campus community, easy-to-customize messages and centralized control that cuts the effort and expense of traditional print communication. Many institutions, such as Kansas State University, have also made such displays an integral part of emergency response strategies, sending real-time alerts of safety issues on campus.
Beyond these benefits, institutions are discovering another advantage: Digital displays have the potential to cut expenses and generate revenue. For starters, digital signage — whether plasma, LCD or LED — is one more leap forward in the ongoing push toward environmentally friendly practices. Their broad reach and ability to deliver information quickly means digital systems eliminate a significant amount of paper-based communications. After an initial upfront investment, digital signage earns its keep through savings on professional printing, paper and ink cartridges, waste collection and the personnel required to create and distribute paper notices.
Reaching potentially hundreds of viewers daily, displays also offer economies of scale that traditional printing can’t match. Achieving that same saturation with printed letters, brochures or posters would be costly. Tennessee Tech University deploys digital signage for a wide range of purposes, including videos, wayfinding information, weather data, Google Earth images, event details and more. Digital systems also offer efficiency: Administrators can change or update messages with just a few clicks. In terms of personnel costs, their ease and efficiency free staff to pursue other projects. Interactive touch screens can replace staffed information desks, providing user-friendly service to visitors and students seeking information.
Some institutions are taking digital displays a step further, relying on it to not only cut costs, but also generate revenue through paid advertisements. One of the earliest models of on-campus advertising came from The University Network. It launched in 2003 and quickly set up partnerships with more than 100 colleges to deliver paid advertising on digital displays, sharing revenue with the colleges. Today, digital signage is an attractive alternative for both on-campus retailers (think bookstores and cafes) and off-campus businesses, both of which target the student market. The former can increase existing revenue for campus establishments, and the latter can generate revenue through paid ads.
These advantages aside, digital signage is simply a good fit for higher education because it resonates with the sector’s most important constituents: students, 97% of whom say they prefer to receive information from digital channels. Now that 3D, full-motion video and interactive signage are on the horizon, it’s a safe bet that institutions and advertisers alike will be taking notice and increasing their digital display deployments.