This is article number 8 in a series on the choice of system architecture for your digital signage project, If you’re not entirely clear on the notion of digital signage, or aren’t familiar with the different existing structures, start with this article: Digital signage: how to prepare yourself well. If you missed the last article, look at: Preparing yourself #7: Usage and evolution
A digital signage solution is made up of multiple elements and pieces of equipment (players, servers…) or software’s… These can be sold or provided by different service providers. Each offers its own products (player and software, just a player, just a software…), it’s hard to have an exact idea of the pricing that’s going to be applied. It is however possible toidentify the cost sources, as well as the billing frequency in each case.
Case of hosted models (on premise) and hybrid
The models that we call hosted (on premise) and hybrid have a substantial initial cost. These investments are mostly the equipment’s initial purchasing cost (server, players, routers, software…), the installation cost and the potential training sessions, necessary for the perfect mastering of the management interface. To these costs you should add maintenance, often billed in the form of an annual subscription.
Beyond this initial investment are (hidden) expenses, which are rarely included in the service providers’ billing. It’s true that updates are often billed as extra expenses, in a recurring (often annualised) way. The wear, and thus replacement of equipment is also a factor that should not be neglected. While nothing is set in stone, the general lifetime of players oscillates between 5 to 7 years. After which a renewal of the fleet becomes a necessity. In the case of large fleets that have a dedicated technical team for system maintenance, the salaries (or a part) should also be added to the eventual bill.
It can then prove hard to budget everything correctly.
Case of SaaS models
In a SaaS model, the billing is done on a monthly basis (or sometimes annually), and corresponds, to a subscription to a management software (or platform). The interface and player updates are generally included in the subscription, as is the tech support.
When the acquisition of broadcast players is necessary, an extra investment may be demanded. Moreover, when connection is difficult, the adding of network equipment (routers Wi-Fi, 3G…) as well as subscriptions and flat rate’s for mobile data may become necessary. Though maintenance is often included in the subscriptions, training sessions could be separately billed.
Planning your budget becomes substantially easier.
Consumption of electricity
Too often forgotten while budgeting a digital signage system and absent from the bills of the service providers, the electricity bill can play an important role in the tab, most notably with long term projects. Whatever the architecture you choose, your electricity bill will go up. With a hosted on premise or hybrid architecture, this will mean the electrical consumption of the players, servers and their conditioning (well adapted cooling, 24/7 operations…). In the case of a SaaS system, the bill is limited to the electrical consumption of the players and eventually that of the routers. In any case, the consumption of the screens should also be considered.
Numerous solutions exist, and with each of them, different models of pricing. As a general rule, SaaS solutions bill a recurrent subscription fee and hosted solutions (on premise) bill a single purchase. To this basis, different additional services may or may not be added, each of them with its own pricing model (regular maintenance or a specific development billed once). Free digital signage solutions exist (in the form of a software that has to be installed on machines that aren’t provided, but their installation and use is destined more for the hardened developers than for communication professionals, and require time and effort. With these solutions, the support is only rarely included.
Read the following article to have a summary of the entire series Preparing yourself for digital signage.
You have a digital signage project, ask for a free demo.
Since each digital signage solution has very specific characteristics, ask for the expertise of your service provider before deciding.