Published on: 21 Sep 20  |  Reading : 4 minutes

What’s the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of digital signage?

What are the real and hidden costs of digital signage? From installation to maintenance, find out how to optimise your investment in dynamic content.

Digital signage is a flexible and dynamic way to communicate that should make your life as a marketing pro easier. However, managing signage is still too complicated for many businesses, especially when it comes to managing costs.

We believe this should be as easy as managing your content, which is why we offer a simple subscription or ‘as-a-service’ model.

➡️ Here we explain how you can better work out the total cost of ownership of your digital signage solution, whether you’re changing suppliers or starting from scratch - and make sure you’re saving time and money.

The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) concept is used in particular for softwares. In digital signage, it includes direct prices but also the long-term price :

  • purchase price of equipment - the cost of buying 100 displays for example -
  • cost of installation of equipment
  • cost of operating the screens
  • cost of running the screens and keeping them showing quality content
  • time devoted to solve potential problems
The long-term price is a calculation of all the direct and indirect costs incurred by owning and using the system. The tricky thing is, costs are not always easy to anticipate, especially when you’re buying something for the first time. For example, your time, and your team’s time is one cost that’s often missed or under-esimated. And there are also costs associated with failing to use a system to its full potential. Let’s look at some things to consider...

How much will digital signage installation cost?

There are costs associated with getting screens on your walls, which you need to discuss with your hardware partner or integrator. This includes brackets and cabling on top of the screens themselves. If you are using existing displays but installing a new content management system, you still need to consider install costs. Depending on complexity you can be looking at paying for hours of an engineer’s time per site. And if the player you have chosen needs ethernet cable rather than WiFi, you need to add cabling costs too.

Player Plug n play_Plan de travail 1





A system like Cenareo uses plug-and-play equipment that’s quick to install and can be installed yourself if you have team members comfortable to do it. It uses the WiFi network to deliver content, even high quality video, to every display.






How much will training cost?

You and your team will need training to use a digital signage content management system. If you choose something complex, you will need to spend more time training and you will probably have people getting stressed and frustrated and avoiding using it. Choose a system that’s easy to use and people will enjoy using it. They are more likely to experiment with all of the features and make sure you’re getting value for money. The best digital signage is as local as possible so you should get local as well as central marketing teams trained to use digital signage - multiple users multiplies training time.


How long does it take to create dynamic content?

Time is money. Again, look for a system with an interface that makes it easy to create new content. This reduces the ongoing time costs of running digital signage and also means you will have fresher, more engaging content.

Template personnalisable affichage dynamique






Cenareo offers you templates that can be customised in a few clicks and can help you to create templates personalised to your image and based on your needs.





How much will maintenance cost?

If a problem occurs with one of your digital signage media players, how easy will it be to fix? Digital signage supply chains can involve several parties and it can be complicated to keep track of who is responsible - you, your integrator, the software provider. You don’t want to have to waste time either trying to fix a problem yourself, or ringing around to find out who should fix what. This was exactly what was happening to Etam, before they changed to using our system:


“The processing time needed to solve a technical problem has shrunk from one week to one day.” explain Simon Caillot, Etam Group Purchasing Manager.



One benefit of choosing a service model over buying your own equipment is that it’s your partner’s responsibility to keep the system performing. With Cenareo, if there are any problems with our players that can’t be fixed remotely, then we replace them for free. This was a key selling point for our customer AXA France. Previously the company owned its digital signage displays and players, and each replacement of a defective or obsolete equipment item represented an extra expense. When the time came to upgrade, AXA chose to move to a subscription model using a solution from Cenareo and TMM.


Are you getting everything you paid for?

Sometimes things go wrong. A display loses connection to the Internet or loses power. If you have a large fleet of screens that you can’t personally see, do you know that everything is working as it should be?

Cenareo’s system alerts you if there are any problems with your displays. If you don’t have any alerts in place then you could have displays in your network that aren’t updating with new content, or worse, have gone blank. You’re missing out on promotions, offers and upsells. And viewers are frustrated by out of date notices, or get the impression that your company isn’t on top of everything. Plus your return on investment has taken a hit that you don’t even know about. So, to avoid missing a single piece of your investment and take advantage of your digital signage system, choose an all-in-one solution with a partner who is attentive to your needs and proactive in resolving potential breakdowns.


Can you actually use digital signage to make money?

So far, we’ve talked about what signage costs you, however, depending on how you’re using signage, you might be able to offset some of these by selling advertising space. Your signage network is essentially an advertising channel with an audience that other businesses will pay to reach. For example, if you run a chain of IT shops, then a technology company might pay to have its products promoted on your screens. You can use information about your screens - footfall and dwell time for example - in any marketing negotiations with your suppliers and use this to get more display models or a customer discount.

With the right partner digital signage is a great investment in your communications, with transparent costs that are easy to manage.

Read our case studies to find out why businesses change to Cenareo’s easy to use digital signage content management solution, and get in touch to find out how we can help you with your signage project.

More about the solution

Whether you use digital signage in your shops or internally in your company, the advantages in terms of dynamism and contextualisation are so strong that the impact of the messages on your audience will have a snowball effect on your ROI. In retail, the customer journey will be improved and the advertising offers will be more highlighted for an increased average shopping cart. In the corporate sector, the information delivered at the right time to the right target will allow a better internal organisation and thus a reinforced efficiency of your employees.

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