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Digital Signage vs Traditional Signage

Digital signage vs Traditional Signage is a topic discussed commonly among advertisers. Technology has reshaped the modern business world. Years ago, business owners and advertisers have limited options of tools in reaching their audiences. Today, customers are asking for more. Advertisers need to take concern of the customer experience. They need to reach the right audience with the right content at the right time. With more options come more considerations. Businesses need to pick the right display out of a wide range of possible tools. 

Traditional signages are great, but digital signages are not bad too. Digital signages have advantages that businesses can use to meet both companies’ and customers’ needs. In this article, we are going to discuss everything about digital signage vs traditional signage.

Digital Signage

What Is Traditional Signage?

Some define traditional signages as some old-fashioned displays which have existed for decades. It is true that most of the traditional signages were invented much earlier than you think, but such explanation is not enough to define a traditional signage.

A traditional signage is a public and commercial display sign that lacks the ability to be customized. It is also known as a static signage because the contents displayed are always restricted to static formats such as texts and images. When compared to digital signage, traditional signage is less flexible in terms of content displaying, ads rotating, interactivity and audience targeting. We will look into these later in this article.

Some examples of traditional signages are:

  1. Outdoor signage
  2. Neon signage
  3. Shop signage
  4. Printed Banner
  5. Handwritten sign board
Neon Signage - Traditional Signage

What Is Digital Signage?

In order to define digital signage, we need to understand the meaning of digital. Digital works with data and information. In short, digital signage is a display tool that can store and process data. These data are none other than the digital media and the digital technologies behind these innovative signages.

Digital signage is made possible due to the advanced display technologies we have nowadays. Some technologies used are LCD and LED display technologies. Digital signages can also process and display digital media such as images, animations, graphics and videos. Some advanced digital signages can even help to collect and analyse users’ data.

Some types of digital signages are:

  1. Wall mounted digital signage
  2. Outdoor digital signage
  3. Digital Kiosk
  4. Interactive Kiosk
  5. Digital menu board
Digital Kiosk
Digital Signage Solution

Differences Between Traditional Signage and Digital Signage

Digital Signage vs Traditional Signage
Traditional SignageDigital Signage
Content FormatPrinted / Handwritten.Image, Text, Graphics & Video.
Content UpdatingConsume more time & resources.Instantaneous.
Audience TargetingReach wide audience.Reach targeted audience.
Ad SchedulingNot available.Display different contents at different time periods.
Data AnalyticsHard to measure ROI.Able to collect and analyze data.
Device MonitoringIt might take time to find out any faulty issue.Get notified of faulty issue quickly.
Device ManagementNeed to attend physically.Can access via remote location.
CostCheaper to setup. Costly in the long run.Higher initial investment. Cheaper to maintain in the long run.

Content Formats

Traditional signages are used to display static contents. Outdoor signage can display print advertisements. Shop signage and banner can display both print and handwritten advertisements. However, most traditional signages share a common disadvantage. Advertisers have to change their advertisements manually whenever there is an update. Advertisers also need to design and print the new advertisements beforehand. All these stages require manpower and time.

Unlike traditional signages, digital signages are used to display digital contents such as video, animated images and graphics. It takes less time to update digital content. Let say you want to reuse your campaign content with updated event dates. You will need to print the advertisement with revised information if you are using traditional signages. However, if you are using digital signages, you only need to get your designer to make a quick revision before updating the content via the digital signage software within a few seconds.

Besides, digital content allows greater levels of creativity and flexibility. Using digital signage allows flexible content creation. Want to create an engaging content? Use a video. Want to display your content horizontally or vertically? Use a digital signage that supports both portrait and landscape display orientations.

Commercial Signage Solution

Audience Targeting

Traditional signage is good at reaching wide audience. An outdoor signage beside a busy walkway can be seen by thousands of road users every day. A well-designed neon business sign board can increase walk-ins in your retail store. But what if I want to show my fried chicken advertisement only during lunch hour or night time? What if I want to display more business information beside of my business name and logo?

It is impossible for advertisers to keep changing the advertisements shown on the signages throughout the day. It is also impossible for business owners to include complex business information in their neon sign boards. Even if they can, what if they want to update the content in the future? Do they need to order another new neon sign board?

Digital signage has an advantage in terms of ads rotating and scheduling. Business owners can design different contents or messages that cater for different time periods. A restaurant owner can display breakfast advertisement in the morning, and dinner advertisement in the evening, without changing it manually. All these can be done automatically via digital signage software or digital signage solution.

Besides, real-time update is possible too with digital signage. It helps to facilitate effective and quick information sharing. Want to show the weather forecast instantly? Want to show waiting number of your store? Digital signage is a more suitable tool.

Since digital signage has the ability to schedule and to rotate contents or advertisements easily, it helps business owners to reach their specific audience effectively. Business owners can now control who to see, what to show and when to show.

Digital Signage can be used as digital menu board.


Interactivity is the future. People are no longer passive consumers. In order to attract consumers’ attention, advertisers need to show information in a more engaging approach. Interactive content is one of the methods.

Interactive kiosk or signage allows users to interact with the content. The content encourages the audience to do something. Audience is no longer viewing the content passively. Stand-out and interactive contents help business to improve brand awareness and to generate high quality leads.

Interactive Kiosk - Digital Signage

Data Analytics

Advertisers are always interested in their return on investment. However, in order to measure performance, advertisers need data. It is very hard to collect data when you are using traditional signage. Your content might look good on the traditional signage. People might be attracted to your content. But can you tell how good it is?

One of the great examples is the interactive kiosk. A business owner who wants to study the performance of his digital content can choose to install analytics software. The software will record an action or an event whenever the user is interacting or touching the screen. Data captured by the analytics software can be used to study metrics such as number of engagements, number of clicks and conversion rate. Using the data, the business owner can then deploy strategies that can help him to reach his target audience effectively with a specialized message.

Device and Content Management

In order to update content on traditional signage, advertiser needs to attend physically. Monitoring could be harder because it is inconvenient to have someone to monitor the traditional signage all the time, especially when the signage is located far away. It may take time to get notified if there is any faulty issue.

Unlike traditional signage, monitoring and management are easier for digital signages. All of these can be done remotely via the digital signage software. With a few clicks, you can update contents for all of your signages from a remote location. It is also easier to monitor the health status of all signages.

Digital Signage Remote Management


When it comes to cost comparison between traditional signage and digital signage, it could get complicated. First of all, maintenance cost of digital signage could be lower under normal condition. This is because traditional signage is more prone to physical damage due to extreme weather. However, since digital signage is made of electronic components, there is a possibility that components could get faulty.

Second, cost to update content is definitely lower for digital signage. Content updating is an extremely easy task for digital signage. However, you will need to have personnel to attend and to update content on the spot for traditional signage.

Third, digital signages are not cheap. For the same amount of money, advertisers can get a traditional signage with a larger display size. Besides, in order to use the digital signage effectively, it requires some knowledge and thus staffs need to be trained.


Digital signage vs Traditional signage – So, is digital signage better than traditional signage? It depends.

Every tool serves its own purpose. It is true that digital signage has advantages that outweigh the disadvantages of traditional signage. However, it is unfair to say that traditional signage is a worse or an inferior display.

As a smart business owner or advertiser, you should always choose the best tool for your application. If you want to have many signages at different locations, you can go for digital signage displays for easier management. If you own a business with a more traditional approach, you should always go for traditional signages that suit your customers more.

In conclusion, technology is advancing, and the world is changing at a rapid pace. New innovations are emerging everywhere, but we also need to pay attention to existing technologies. Be open-minded and flexible. Perhaps you will find that it is better to work with both digital signage and traditional signage in your business. Who knows?

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