Well. Here we are - in the homestretch of 2020. And what a
century year it’s been.
I’ll skip the preamble about “this unprecedented year” since by now you surely don’t need to be told how unusual it all was.
Yet even amongst the chaos (or before it), businesses found ways to get creative with their screens - to wow us, to make us laugh, to fight the virus and even remind us of the shared human experience of getting through C*VID together.
In this post, we’re rounding up some of the coolest digital signage designs, campaigns, and installations from 2020, presented in no particular order.
Pretty much every business across the globe took a hit when the world caught a virus. But many pulled together some awesome campaigns despite the fact that the screens we interacted with most were the ones in our homes. Here are a few that we still think about:
One of the silver linings of the pandemic crisis was the effort to bring mental health issues into sharper focus among the public. Despite the fact that about 13% of the global population (some 971 million people) experience some form of mental illness, many people struggle to know how to discuss mental health with their loved ones.
Suicide prevention charity R U OK Day aimed to show viewers how to have conversations about mental health with a VR digital signage campaign. They partnered with outdoor advertiser JCDecaux Australia to craft a campaign in Sydney, Australia, which asked the critical question, "R U OK?"
Watch the campaign in action:
Back in April and May, UK Out of Home (OOH) trade association Outsmart launched a nationwide campaign to thank frontline workers on media space donated by blowUP media, Clear Channel, JCDecaux, Mass Media, Maxx Media, Ocean Outdoor and UKBillboards.
While most digital signage and digital out-of-home (DOOH) campaigns during the pandemic hammered home the messaging of social distancing and washing one’s hands, this particular campaign featured clever messaging and light humor to thank healthcare workers, caregivers, food service workers, delivery drivers, etc., who worked through tough, even dangerous, conditions to bring us essential services.
In a similar vein, OOH (Out of Home) Media buyer Talon Outdoor launched “#SendingLove,” a global initiative to display user-generated messages of love and unity across screens in 153 cities. The campaign also used social media amplification to ensure people were seeing the campaigns on the screens they were using most - the ones at home.
“Created by Grand Visual, the campaign encourages participants to send love to those in places they cannot travel to, by getting creative with the heart-hand symbol and uploading their pictures and locations to sendinglove.to. Participants are then invited to donate to the global Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund before receiving a photo of their picture playing on-screen in their chosen city to share with friends and family across social channels.”
In December 2019, Emily Snacks decided it would launch its first-ever digital OOH campaign. In April. Yeah...
Needless to say, the brand realized their ads weren’t going to pan out as planned, so they pivoted to a different approach - a series of tongue-in-cheek ads poking fun at the fact that they were being screened to an audience of 0. They snapped pics of the ads and pushed them to social media where they turned out to be pretty popular (no surprise there.)
Ahh, Netflix! Now I've got your attention.
First off, let me clarify - we know this campaign wasn’t real. But boy, what a beautifully petty idea to punish quarantine breakers. The intent of the campaign, however, was legit.
It was created by Miami Ad School students Seine Kongruangkit and Matithorn Prachuabmoh Chaimoungkalo with just one goal: to get people to stay the %&#& home during the pandemic. What better way to do that than to threaten to spoil their most beloved series (Dark, anyone??)
I know it’s hard to remember that COVID wasn’t the only thing the world talked about this year, but there was a time both pre and during the pandemic, that businesses managed to come up with some really impressive digital signage installations and campaigns.
Perhaps the biggest story that got lost in the virus’ wake was the fires that took over Australia early this year. Nearly 46 million acres burned, thousands of buildings were destroyed, and nearly 3 billion animals were believed to have been affected. And reading this right now you probably find yourself going "oh, yeah, THAT."
Firefighters worked night and day, in unbelievably dangerous conditions, to contain and beat back the fires, and the New South Wales Rural Fire Service decided to thank them with a message blasted on a 70-ft tall screen in Times Square, New York.
O2 created this super fun interactive billboard to introduce their new mascot “Bubl.” The little blue robot walks across the screen, mirroring passers-by, pointing, dancing, waving. It’s great.
What’s really cool about this is that Bubl is controlled by a person on site using multi-player gaming technology to manipulate him. It’s obviously not suitable as a long-term campaign, but it’s definitely the kind of thing to grab attention!
This one’s impressive.
Experience design studio Second Story created this incredible audio-visual artwork for developer Lincoln Harris, to open their newest marquee building, named “Legacy Union” which boasts the largest interior native 4K LED Display in the World (a whopping 70’W x 36’H)
In their own words, Second Story describes the commission:
“Legacy Union, a 10-acre, mixed-use development is intended to be a community gathering place that pays homage to Charlotte’s past while celebrating the promise of its future. “Unify” brings this idea to life on a massive scale in the lobby of the property’s inaugural building.
Its ever-changing swirl of colors reflects the vibrancy of a city where all the right elements are coalescing to form something new and beautiful. Driven by a complex algorithm, the behavior of each pixel influences the others around it—color, movement, and sound recombine in a complex and interconnected dance. The algorithm is a metaphor for community: where we are is part of who we are—we affect, and are affected by, the actions of everyone around us.”
“Unify” took home the Grand Prix prize at 2020’s Digital Signage Awards.
Alright, I’m a sucker for historical storytelling. And if you haven’t gathered from the other items on this list - interactive digital experiences too. So naturally, I nerd out a little over the marriage between history and digital signage technology.
Experience design studio ESI Design created this experiential exhibit for the Statue of Liberty Museum in New York City, to immerse visitors in the cultural story of one of the world’s most iconic monuments and its home, Liberty Island.
As top winner in the Sports & Entertainment Venues category of the Digital Signage Awards, this project takes digital signage to new levels of innovation.
“Lagoh is the largest center of experiences and leisure in Europe. In this exclusive project, technology is brought to life and shared with visitors through an impressive hologram fountain, where the the spirit of the lake can be seen, for instance, or engaging in interactive, crazy, funny 360o games in a large cylinder. Different elements of digital architecture welcome visitors inside the centre using delicate artistic content pieces with Sevillian influences”
Okay, so this one isn’t digital. But I felt like the pluck and audacity demonstrated here merited an honorable mention.
If you’ve ever spent any time on a dating app (🙋♀️) you know the novelty wears off in about, oooooh, 30 seconds. So what’s a young single to do? Well, you could follow Mark’s lead and throw up a billboard asking people to date you (though obviously we're gonna recommend you use digital signage instead.)
According to his website, over 2000 people have applied for a date, so the billboard approach clearly works. Congrats, Mark.
*Update* - sorry ladies and gents, it looks like Mark is no longer accepting applications. Still, let his success serve as an inspiration to us all.
2020 wasn’t what any of us were expecting, but there was still plenty of great digital signage to celebrate!
Remember, if you’re looking for a digital signage software for your project in 2021, Fugo has you covered 😎
In the generous holiday spirit, we’re offering 40% off your first year of Fugo if you sign up by January 15! (Just use coupon code NEWYEAR to access the deal.)
Sign up for a 14-day free trial to see how easy we make it to manage your screens and content, and be sure to give us a shout for that special installation you’ve got planned for the upcoming year!
🎁 Happy Holidays from Team Fugo!
“Fugo is able to help us stay up-to-date with news, information, and communication effectively across the whole of our team.”
Swindon 105.5, on air since 2008, is the pulse of their community, reporting on local and national news 24 hours a day. Between the live broadcast and off-air efforts to train and volunteer around their community, they have a busy studio life, and use digital signage to help keep their teams in-the-loop. They chose Fugo to run the screens in their studios.
The logistics involved in running a volunteer-based 24 hour broadcast only got more challenging with COVID-19. Pandemic-related restrictions meant that the station had to reduce the number of people in the studio and stagger their volunteers’ hours.
Their team needed a way to update one another while everyone couldn’t physically be together to run the ship. Enter Fugo.
With Fugo, Station Manager Shirley Ludford and her team can control their screens remotely, frequently updating their playlists with company announcements, news headlines, and COVID PSAs:
“We use Fugo to show the latest news information for our team of volunteers to read from and stay up-to-date when on air. We often report on local and national stories, so it’s become extremely effective for helping to fuel on-air content, especially as a 24-hr broadcast service when our volunteers are now in at staggered times throughout the day.”
The Google Slides app has given them an easy way to create and update their screens with in-house announcements to their team. And with the BBC News and RSS apps, they can keep a live stream of headlines, ensuring their broadcasters are never behind when it comes to local Swindon news and national stories. The Youtube app is another major asset in their playlists, allowing them to livestream important coverage.
Who better to explain how Fugo has helped Swindon in their daily operations than station manager, Shirley Ludford. Watch the video below to discover more.
“Keeping people in touch and informed is so important, and so the Fugo system has really helped us do that, with local announcements pertaining to the station itself, and national stories and local information that people can use within their programs. So it’s been a kind of helpful lifeline to us.
So if you’re considering using Fugo at the moment, like we do, I would say jump into the 14-day free trial!”
Want to see how Fugo can help your small business? Give it a try today!
Black Friday seems to start earlier every year, doesn’t it? Not that you’ll find us complaining... If there were ever a year we needed to make the holidays last longer than usual it’s 2020.
For purveyors of digital signage thinking about snatching up a new screen or media player this year, there are some genuinely great deals going on we think you should know about.
We’ve scoured the internet for the best Black Friday deals on TV’s, media players, and more, so you don’t have to, and collected them in one place for your convenience. Enjoy!
Of course any mention of Black Friday wouldn’t be complete without the retail Mecca of tech - Best Buy. They’ve got great deals going on QLED TVS, 4K Smart TVs, Smart and non-Smart TVs. These are some that caught our eye, starting with the most budget-friendly:
Was $349.99, now $149.99 (save $200)
Was $349.99, now $229.99 (save $129)
Was $499.99, now $249.99 (save $250)
Was $749.99, now $529.99 (save $220)
Lastly, for an amazing steal on a usually high-ticket TV screen...
$2699.99, now $2199.99 (save $500)
Samsung is offering big savings on their QLED 4K TV’s this year. Here are some of the deals worth checking out:
Was $1999.99, now $1499.99 (save $500)
If you’re looking for something more budget-friendly…
Was $499.99, now $399.99 (save $100)
Amazon is offering up to 15% on select TVs from Sony, Phillips, and LG - these are our picks of the bunch.
Was £599, now £539 (save £60)
Was £449, now £379 (save £70)
If you’re looking for something a little flashier…
Was £1439, now £1299 (save £140)
Was £599, now £399 (save £200)
Was £899, now £699 (save £200)
Was £1199, now £699 (save £500)
TVs are far from the only thing worth scouting this weekend. Here’s where you can find the best deals on media players.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite and Fire TV Stick prices are at their lowest ever this weekend. You can find them for $17.99 and $29.99, respectively, at Amazon or Best Buy (down from the usual $29.99 & $49.99)
Best Buy is running deals on some great TV wall mounts ranging from $50 - $150. A couple worth noting here are:
Was $99.99, now $49.99 (save $50)
Was $149.99, now $69.99 (save $80)
Was $269.99, now $159.99 (save $110)
Fugo’s getting in on the Black Friday action too!
From now until December 4, you can get 40% off a year’s subscription on Fugo. Just sign up for a 14-day free trial here and enter the coupon code BLACKFRIDAY2020 into your billing details to claim the deal.
This is one of the best deals you’ll find this year on cloud-based digital signage - seriously, don’t miss out.
If there’s an upside to missing out on in-person Thanksgiving dinners and Black Friday deals, it’s that I can skip the crowds and early morning lines to shop from the comfort of my couch. Yes please thankyouverymuch.
We want to wish everyone celebrating Thanksgiving a very happy holiday! We hope you stay healthy and bright this weekend ☀️
If you’re feeling generous, don’t forget to share this article and spread the news about these deals! The more people that can shop online, the safer we all are this holiday season 😎
You may have already heard that Pixelart is relaunching and rebranding as Fugo. BIG STUFF, I know.
In case you haven’t heard, you can read more about the backstory of why we decided to make the change here.
Now, as a tried and true user of Pixelart you may be thinking any number of things, such as:
Awesome! I’m 100% on board! New product! YESSSS LET ME AT IT.
Cool? Sure hope they’ve made some improvements.
WHAT? Why would they do that? Pixelart was working just fine for me! Will they be getting rid of that feature I rely on? What about that app I need? Are they upping their price? Don’t they realize what software changes do to businesses and teams like mine?
…we ecstatically invite you to take Fugo for a drive! Head over to fugo.ai/app to register and start your 14-day free trial.
...you’ll be pleased to know that we absolutely have made improvements (otherwise, what’s the point of this whole crazy endeavor of building a new product from scratch?)
Fugo is shorter. Lighter. Easier to say (that’s “Foo-go” by the way.) It’s less confusing for people who think our platform is for editing pixel art 🤦
You can find our new domain at fugo.ai.
That means new branding, a new logo, and more importantly - an improved user experience and interface inside our CMS.
We thought really long and hard about how we could make the process of publishing content as frictionless as possible for users of all backgrounds and levels of tech-savviness.
We decided that the old core Pixelart concept of campaigns was just too involved and too drawn out for the majority of our users. We’ve swapped it out for playlists - a 3-step process that allows you to build out your content and schedule on one page in just a couple of minutes!
But we’re definitely not stopping there.
You can still pair your screen to our software with a PIN. But Fugo users will also have the option to pair by QR code* as well! And - this is the really cool bit - Fugo will be able to auto detect any new players that pop up in your network.*
Perhaps what we’re most excited about… Fugo Analytics!* Fugo will be the first cloud-based platform of its kind to include in-built analytical capabilities. That means you’ll be able to draw data on your audience such as number of views, gender, and age, allowing you to make smarter decisions about your content and driving ROI on your digital signage - without infringing on anyone’s privacy!
Our new responsive design studio* will allow you to build out content for any screen size, resolution, and aspect ratio. Instead of having to hit “preview” to see how it will look, you’ll be able to see right then and there on the canvas at the click of a button!
* Note that these features have not been released but are in the pipeline. We’ll be prioritizing feature and app releases based on customer feedback and requests, so let us know what you want to see first!
(Remember, that’s the camp that’s a little more anxious than excited about the upcoming changes.)
We definitely get it. Changes can be tough, but please don’t fret. We’ve built a product that we truly believe you’ll WANT to migrate to. Let us walk you through what the switch to Fugo is going to mean for you.
You’ll notice that we haven’t yet added every app, feature, and player platform support that you’ll find in Pixelart.
We went ahead and released Fugo anyway because we believe that even without every last puzzle piece in place at this date, Fugo is still an amazing platform that allows you to run your digital signage like a pro. All the core features you’ll need are there, ready to let you publish and schedule content with ease!
In addition to some new integrations (like Looker) we’ll be rounding out our app store with the apps you knew and loved in Pixelart.
First up on the docket are the GSuite apps, Youtube, Dropbox, Vimeo, and PosterMyWall - slated for release at the end of November.
Following those, we’ll prioritize releases based on the feedback we get on our roadmap. Speaking of which...
This is where we’re letting you take charge! We’ll be prioritizing app, feature, and player support releases based on your feedback. So… need an app before you can commit? Are we still missing support for your player? Tell us!
Our product team is working incredibly hard to make sure Fugo is ready for our loyal base of Pixelart users as well as our growing base of new Fugo customers! Our roadmap is here, ready for you to fill with your ideas, requests, and suggestions! 🗺️
We’re saying our final goodbye to Pixelart on December 14, 2020.
On that date, we’ll shed our single tear and press the figurative “shutdown” button on Pixelart CMS.
So, make sure to sign up for Fugo before then to take advantage of our awesome discount and avoid any disruptions to your screens and service! (If you’re a Pixelart user and you didn’t receive your early adopter coupon code, email us and we’ll make sure you get it.)
As we get closer to “turning off” Pixelart we will send you plenty of reminders via email and within Pixelart CMS - so worry not - we will make sure you are not blindsided by the switch!
Our ultimate goal is to give you the best, easiest, most accessible platform on the market for managing your digital signage screens and content.
It’s with the utmost excitement and regard for our incredible users that we invite you to join us in this new phase.
Head over to fugo.ai now to read up about this new product and get your trial started.
If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We’re gonna support you in whatever way we can.
Here’s to the future!
📺 Team Fugo
Before we launch into the details on Pixelart’s rebrand, indulge me for a moment as I tell you a short story about the beloved children’s classic: Toy Story.
It’s 1995, and life is admittedly a little different. Somewhere far away from the White House, Donald Trump is starring in Pizza Hut commercials. People are lining up outside their local Best Buy to get their hands on Windows 95. Cell phones are only for making calls. Michael Jordan is making his triumphant return to the NBA. Brad Pitt is the Sexiest Man Alive (okay, so I guess some things haven’t changed.) Coolio has the song of the year.
And Toy Story is dominating the box office, ushering in a new era of computer-animated film while simultaneously worming its way into the collective American heart.
It’s hard to imagine Toy Story as anything other than the damn-near perfect movie it is, but it actually took a lot of tinkering to get it just right.
It was originally based on another animated Pixar short Tin Toy, a 5 minute film about a tiny musical toy escaping the clutches of a destructive toddler. Cute, right? Not to everyone, apparently. Disney (poised to acquire Pixar Studios) felt Tin Toy was too childish, that audiences wanted to see something edgier and more mature. So they ordered the studio to tailor the story to these new demands.
Unfortunately, Pixar was a little too good at following orders. They re-wrote main characters Woody and Buzz as sarcastic jerks, including scenes of Woody verbally and physically abusing his fellow toys - a change that was a major turn off for test audiences. The reels were so bad, apparently, that a screening for studio execs became known as the “Black Friday Incident” at Pixar. Yikes.
As it turns out, audiences wanted children’s movies to be, well, kinda childish. So Pixar ditched the salty, abusive Woody for the (flawed) lovable leader we have now, and did a couple more rewrites. They nailed it on their third try, and we finally got the version of the story that we know and love today. Toy Story went on to make 10 times its budget in ticket sales, and eventually spawned several sequels. You know the rest of the story.
Still with me?
The moral of the story is that sometimes brilliant people (need I remind you who was helming Pixar at this point: *cough* Steve Jobs *cough*) have one idea about what their product should be, while their audiences have another idea. Jobs surely learned that lesson more than once in his tenure at Apple.
That’s a lesson we’ve learned ourselves, here at Pixelart. And we’re carrying it with us as we rebuild our software and rebrand under a new name.
Before you get any ideas that we somehow built and released a terrible product that nobody liked, let me qualify the rest of the post with this:
We really like the software we built. And so do most of our users. From the beginning, we’ve always been about creating an enterprise tool that would be accessible for everybody. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t room for improvement.
Sharing what we’ve learned along the way will hopefully help to illuminate our decision about relaunching with a new product and new name.
Like the storytellers and animators at Pixar with Toy Story, we poured our blood, sweat, and tears into our baby: Pixelart. We launched the software in 2018 and then spent two years learning about our users and what you wanted your digital signage tools to do.
And you had some amazing ideas! At your request, we were able to build and implement some pretty cool stuff:
But by far, the most interesting revelation came not in what you asked for, but what you didn’t.
You see, when we built Pixelart, we thought we had a pretty good idea about how people wanted to run their digital signage. We thought our users would be mainly marketing hotshots who would want to build out their content like they would a Facebook ad campaign.
So we built our software around the concept of campaigns - where a user would design a piece of content in our design studio, then select when it needed to be published, and then where (what screen group.)
We thought we would teach our users how to publish content, but it turns out, you didn’t need to learn - you knew how you wanted to do it.
We learned that integrating our software into tools you already use (like G Suite, social media, PosterMyWall, etc…) was better - as you could take your content from where it already lives and simply publish it to screen without transferring files between tools. This is where apps and direct publish came into being.
We also thought businesses would be using expensive, professional grade hardware to run their digital signage. So we focused our early software versions on compatibility with players like BrightSign and IAdea.
But much to our surprise, even our enterprise clients preferred cheap, consumer grade players. And so, we developed software for Android, Amazon Fire TV, Chrome, R-Pi, and Windows platforms. This gave us the opportunity to give all size businesses an affordable avenue into the digital signage game.
The main lesson that has followed us into the rebuild is that in order for a software to scale with a business, it needs to be three things:
These last two years have driven home the lesson for us that a tool is so much more than the sum of its parts. The value of software is in what it empowers you to do.
That’s why our first goal with building Fugo has been to get out of your way — to make publishing and managing your on-screen content so painless, so frictionless, that you & your team will actually want to do it.
That’s also why our next-level goal is to help you squeeze as much power, insight, and profit out of your digital signage as possible.
The biggest addition to our new CMS will be its ability to measure the impact of your content. Fugo will be the first cloud-based digital signage SaaS tool of its kind to feature native audience analytics in the platform.
Can a digital signage CMS actually help you get more work done, more efficiently? Can it help you identify content that drives results versus content that falls flat? Can it help you spot areas for improvement? Can it drive major growth and revenue for your business?
We believe it can!
Well, everything. It’s true that we’re getting more than just a fresh lick of paint. But that’s a good thing.
For starters, we have a new name, logo, and brand colors.
That means a new website too.
As for the new CMS, we’ve completely rethought the user experience for Fugo, making it more intuitive and more akin to the experience you get in modern SaaS products, like Mailchimp.
We’ve said goodbye to campaigns and introducing playlists (don’t worry - we’ll still have direct publishing too.)
We’ve simplified the process of pairing screens. Our software will be able to auto-detect new players within your network and prompt you to add them.
We’ll have a new responsive design studio, where you can build out content with media and apps for all screen sizes, resolutions, and aspect ratios.
And about a billion other things.
There will be a ton of stuff in the backend that you won’t be able to see, but that will be quietly working to keep your screen networks stable and secure. For the tech-nerds among you, we’ll cover that in another post, but you can go here to find our founder and director discussing the new software in depth with the Scalac team who’s helping us build it.
So, if we liked the Pixelart platform, why not just release Pixelart 2.0? Why the new name and product? Won’t that just upset people? What kind of crazy company with a loyal user base tries to fix something that isn’t broken? And what does Fugo even mean??
Pixelart is a great platform, but we felt it was time to rebuild as a professionally packaged enterprise tool. That meant scaling up our development team, incorporating some impressive new architecture and building from the ground up.
Starting again at 0 is an incredible opportunity not only to think about our product, but what we want our brand to be about too.
The new software has the concepts of democracy and simplicity at its core. It’s built truly for anyone in any business to use. We wanted our new name - Fugo (pronounced “Foo-go” not “Fiu-go” or “Fuego”) - to reflect the simplicity that has been so hard won.
We also really needed a name that wasn’t Pixelart, as many people were, uhhh, confused about what we do. I present - a Shakesperian tragedy, in 3 acts:
Our new branding and logo (also named Fugo) give our product a sheen, but also a friendly face. You’ll always find him somewhere, cheering you on and rooting for your success!
Oh, and if you’re wondering… Fugo means “sign” in Japanese 😎🇯🇵
We’ll be announcing more about the product updates in the coming weeks. Stay tuned here and on our social media pages to find out more!
We are SO excited to be introducing Fugo. We hope you’ll enjoy using the platform as much as we’ve enjoyed building it for you.
Pixelart Fugo team
As it turns out, no. Even in the digital age when paperless offices are thought to be a reality for most businesses, it’s estimated that 95% of all businesses still store information on paper.
According to the Paperless Project, an average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year.
Umm - what?
Printing can be a huge financial cost to businesses, to say nothing of the environmental cost. With pressure on businesses to reduce their environmental impact, it’s important to understand the environmental cost of printing for their organisation and our planet.
Do you regularly use printed posters and banners in your advertising? You may be causing more damage to the environment than you realize. Think about it:
For every ton of paper your business consumes, you sacrifice 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, two barrels of oil, and 4,100kWh of electricity. (Source)
Those billboards you’re using to advertise your business? They’ll stick around a lot longer than you will, in a landfill.
And what about that time you sent an advertisement to print only to discover a glaring error in the final delivery? The entire lot gets dumped without seeing the light of the day, leading to a huge loss not only to your pocket, but also to the environment.
So what’s happening to all that paper when it reaches the end of its life?
Paper alone accounts for 40% of all waste in the United States. That adds up to about 71.6 million tons per year. What many hope to reduce, reuse, and recycle, unfortunately ends up being dumped into a landfill. (Source)
It’s easy to forget that production of paper also has a devastating impact on the world we live in, but the facts are there for anyone looking:
It's not just paper either. All that stuff has to be printed, right? Enter printers and ink cartridges, stage left.
Ink printers and their ink are made up of several potentially harmful chemicals:
Manufacturing ink cartridges costs the environment. Producing a new laser cartridge consumes more than three quarts of oil. For inkjet cartridges, it’s about three ounces of oil.
And when you throw away an old ink or toner cartridge, the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals inside will pollute the soil and water once they reach landfills.
Over 375 million used ink and toner cartridges are thrown out every year, and most of them end up in landfills. To bring that into perspective, this means that 11 cartridges are thrown out every second and 1 million cartridges every day. And they’re not going anywhere fast - the plastic in a print cartridge can take 1000 years to fully decompose. Rather scary when one puts it like that, wouldn’t you say?
By opting for screens over posters, your business can help save the earth while simultaneously keeping money in your pockets. Consider this:
The production and implementation of your printed signage is killing the planet: the trees that have to be cut down, transported to mills, processed and made into the paper that you then use to print assets on, deliver across locations, put up, and finally throw out. Repeat this for millions of businesses across the globe, every day.
You can’t see the ecological footprint of that poster in the window, but it’s there.
Printed advertising has a very short shelf life, yet the waste generated from monthly multi-location print campaigns has much more long-term implications than setting up a digital signage network.
Notice an error in that on-screen message? Take it down. Then log on to a remote content management system and replace it in seconds. No logistics costs are incurred – no one has to reprint the posters or transport them to the display location, adding to their carbon footprint on the way.
Digital signage solutions are made to last. The average lifecycle of an LED display is 100,000 hours. Even if you were to run your screen 24/7, 365 days a year, a well-maintained display can last you around 10 years. Compared to print messaging, which quickly becomes obsolete and faded, digital signage has the advantage.
You might be tempted to argue that digital signage just replaces paper waste with electrical use. While digital signage displays do draw power, it’s not as much as you’d think. Modern screens consume 90% less energy than they did 20 years ago. And remember, LED screens typically use less electricity and last longer than LCDs.
Digital signage displays are also easier to recycle than you’d think. They’re made of what are known as cradle-to-cradle components - parts that can be removed and reused without needing to be broken down or melted. Aluminum, copper, gold, and polycarbonate plastic are materials that can be harvested from most displays when you retire them. Some vendors even have hardware trade-in programs, letting you swap out old devices for new ones at little cost.
It's not just that it looks cool (it does) or leads to incredible ROI for your business (it does) — digital signage actually has benefits over paper, in terms of cost, effort and environmental impact.
Your customers, employees, guests, and communities are thinking about the environment these days. And they expect you to think about it too. Organizations making efforts to reduce their environmental impact with digital signage don’t just gain eco-cred with their audience. Thave the advantage in all corners: cost, efficiency, reach, and ROI.
To businesses still relying on print, what on earth are you waiting for?
For many, moving from office work to remote work hasn’t been so much of a shift as it has been an all out scramble 😳. A collective “wtf” moment shared by scores of newly remote teams across the globe.
That makes sense. With so many people jumping into virtual collaboration for the first time under Covid-19’s long shadow, there was bound to be a learning curve. Trip ups are expected when you have to hit the ground running. Things get awkward.
In classic spoof fashion, SNL nailed the Zoom call.
Fugo has always been a distributed team, with our workforce spread out between countries, doing a combination of work-from-home and work-from-the-office routines. So as remote work veterans, we’re well aware of the challenges now faced by the novice organization, manager, and employee. Below, we’re sharing lessons learned and best practices for keeping a team engaged and productive in this new work regime 💪
This is not a list of requirements, but rather a general philosophy, gleaned from experience, that governs how we do the one thing that affects everything else we do as a distributed team: communicate.
The demand for virtual collaboration tools has skyrocketed in the last decade. And now that remote work may be here to stay, the uptick will only continue 📈
There are hundreds of tools to choose from. A lot of companies make the mistake of having too many tools just for tools’ sake. What’s important is finding and keeping up with the ones that offer real value to your team. Here’s a quick list of some that make our cut:
Trello is an intuitive kanban planning app that lets you fully customize the boards you create. It works by setting up lists using cards, like post-it notes, on a layout that looks like a high-tech bulletin board. Cards can be labeled with assignment details, such as the person responsible, due date, and a task description. An activity sidebar tracks every change made to the board, so everybody on the team can see what the current needs and completed tasks are.
Why we love it: It’s intuitive, fun, easy for everybody on our team; great if you don’t need a heavy duty project management tool. Plus, it feels soooo good to archive a card 😎
Aptly named, Weekdone is a weekly reporting and OKR software that helps companies keep a pulse on their teams through setting goals and tracking progress. Teams can use it for planning their week’s work on an individual basis while linking their tasks up with overarching company objectives. Besides just weekly tasks and OKR progress, you can customize your dashboard to track things like job satisfaction, backlogs of work, challenges, and lessons your team learned along the way.
Why we love it: It’s been a great tool for our remote team to structure our week and stay focused on getting the right things done rather than just creating the appearance of being busy. Plus, the way individual, team, and company objectives are aligned brings into view how each person contributes to Fugo’s overall direction 👍🏽
While Zoom is definitely having its heyday at the moment, there are other alternatives out there for video conferencing. The two we use most frequently are Whereby and Google Meet. Both are easy to use and have all the collaboration tools you'll need to conduct productive meetings, like screen sharing, file sharing, and G Suite integration. Plus with Whereby we have extra flexibility to record our meetings for any team members MIA and open our Trello boards.
Loom is another favorite video messaging tool. For things like onboarding new employees, troubleshooting user problems, doing code reviews, or explaining complex workflows, Loom rescues teams like ours from lengthy back and forth messaging. In less time than it takes to type out an email, you can record your screen, voice (even face, for the brave 😉) into one easily shareable video.
When most people hear “workplace communication” they probably think of top down director-to manager-to employee communication flows. But what about lateral team member communication?
How employees communicate with each other isn’t just important for company culture, it’s really important for productivity too! The Donut app for Slack matches up teammates for a virtual get-to-know-you call (to be had over very real coffees, lunch breaks, or home living room happy hours 🍸)
Know Your Team describes itself as “software that helps managers become better leaders.” You can use it for basic employee management tasks like scheduling 1-on-1 meetings and sharing progress. But the coolest feature is that it can be programmed to ask your team social questions like “What was your favorite band 10 years ago?” once a week, helping people find surprising connections with each other and maybe grow a little closer.
If it sounds like forced water cooler talk, worry not - employees can also chime in with their own suggested questions to make it more relevant to your team 👥
If you need a little help tuning out distracting websites while you work, the Freedom.tu app does just that. Beyond keeping you focused on work, it’s also a great tool for building healthier digital habits in general 🌱 Right now we can all probably afford to sign out and sign off a little more. Freedom.to works on Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, or Chrome.
Working remotely is categorically not the same as working centrally, and should not be treated as such. If you found yourself having meetings all day at the office, now is a great time not to have those meetings. Write things up, disseminate information that way. Allow your team to absorb and contribute on their own time. Introduce some new tools 🧰. Improve how you communicate.
Ultimately, we believe this upheaval can be viewed as an opportunity ✨ If you are simply trying to simulate your office, you’ll not only set yourself and your team up for failure, but you’ll also miss out on an opportunity to learn a new skill. Working remotely is a skill. Being able to do the same work in a new way is a skill.
If you equip your team with the right tools and expectations, everyone will come out of this having learned something new. And perhaps, you’ll have found that having a new path to the same destination has made your company more resilient. Adaptation is a super power, so get remote work right and you may find that not only does it work, it may even offer you valuable new avenues 🙏
Peering into a crystal ball is always a bit hazy, isn’t it. When some of the digital signage industry’s biggest names and vendors did so back in January, to try to see what lay ahead for the future of digital signage and retail tech, a few familiar phrases emerged from the haze:
The deeper you looked into the crystal ball, the more exciting it seemed. Robot assistants. Stores that could display custom on-screen promotions based on your online shopping behavior. Smart mirror displays that use AI and gesture recognition to superimpose clothes onto your body for a virtual fitting room experience. Cashierless grocery stores where automated checkout lets you walk in, shop, and walk out without ever queuing up for a register.
If digital signage tech was already reinventing experiences in stores, schools, hospitals, and well, everywhere - we were poised to see just how far it could go towards doing that.
But then the world caught a virus. And suddenly, it got kind of hard to be excited about all that advancing technology. Not because it wasn’t exciting, but because its significance seemed dwarfed by world events.
Ironically enough, it is precisely those world events that reinforced the significance of digital signage. In facilities that had to remain open during the pandemic - hospitals, supermarkets, government offices - digital signage played an important part in communicating health and prevention measures to keep frontline workers and guests safe.
And now that the whole world is facing the same challenge together - how do we get people back to work, back to school, and back out into the economy, safely - it’s becoming clear that digital signage is part of that equation. Its function will likely expand way beyond its pre-Covid role. In fact, it already has.
The reopening of society comes as a relief to businesses who are now able to generate revenue again. But it’s also a lot of work as they have to make sure employees have masks, and they don’t have too many people in the store, and that customers follow social distancing, and so on.
Especially in places where a business may be subject to expensive fines for breaking protocol, access control is a huge pain point.
One simple but problematic way to handle that has been to place security personnel outside the store to count people manually. But besides possibly exposing them to the virus, it’s also a costly endeavor - personnel must be paid.
We’re seeing digital signage providers tackle this issue with solutions that:
As we gain more freedom to move around, you’ll be encountering more screens letting you know when it’s safe for you to enter a building, informing you if you are violating safety protocol, and leading you around places like shops or hospitals so you can keep personal interaction to a minimum.
Entrance control is just the first part of the conversation. One of the other operational challenges of running and patronizing a business in the age of COVID is staying on top of information that is constantly changing.
One of the biggest opportunities presenting itself for digital signage is to be that information source people can turn to. There is a heightened awareness and appetite right now for answers to questions like “Is this space being disinfected regularly?” “What are you doing to keep your customers safe?” “Do you have this or that in stock?” or “What are your hours like now?”
You’ll see stores that have taken a DIY approach to this with messy whiteboards, printed - or God forbid, handwritten - notices. And you’ll smack your head when that information turns out to be outdated or inaccurate.
Digital signage not only is a much more professional way to present this information, it can also integrate with stock management systems to advertise the availability of products (I’m looking at you, toilet paper 👀) or enforce purchase limits on things like hand sanitizer and bottled water.
Imagine donning your mask and making the trip out of your house to a store for a package of paper towels. You wait in a queue to be let in, walk to the appropriate aisle, only to find out there’s none left. You ask an understandably stressed store attendant when it might be restocked. They don’t know. You go to the next store. Repeat. Meanwhile, you don’t know what you may have exposed yourself (or others) to while making those unnecessary trips.
Now imagine you’ve donned your mask, ventured out, and arrived at the store, but seen a screen out front informing you that the store is out of paper towels, which will restocked at 8:00 AM tomorrow morning. You can go home without risking the trip inside, ready to go back now that you’ve been given the information you need. And not a soul had to be bothered.
Retailers are seeing and meeting the need for adequate window facing digital signage updated with real time info about stock shortages, capacity limits, and safety information.
In the Before Times retail digital signage was all about creating an inviting, personalized, entertaining customer experience. It was about increasing the time you spent in a store or a restaurant, or salon.
Now we have the polar opposite situation. We need to get people out of establishments quicker, decrease the time they spend inside so they have less of a chance to pick up or pass along an infection.
Retailers are having to press pause on experience until the world’s got a handle on this virus. When we either find the “new normal” living with long term restrictions or we beat the damn thing. In this regard, the role of digital signage is becoming more about supporting efficient operations.
That has repercussions for digital signage tech sellers too. Visual experience and wow factor will no longer be strong enough selling points. They’ll have to think about how their technology can solve problems and streamline operations.
If we’re taking bets on what the Word or Phrase of 2020 will be, you can put my money on “social distancing” or speaking moistly.”
If we’re taking suggestions for what words should be voted out of the English language after this year, I submit “unprecedented” “new normal” and “trying times.”
If we’re prophesying about what word you’ll be hearing a lot more in the world of commerce, well - *Randy Jackson voice* - that’s gonna be a “contactless” from me, dawg.
Contactless has been around for a while. From entering public transit systems to paying with our smartphones, it was a part of our lives that we didn’t really think about. But with Covid on the scene, it’s become ubiquitous, adapting virtually every aspect of commerce - picking up groceries, ordering food, shipping packages, buying from stores.
One might ask, when it comes to digital signage, what will that mean? What about touch screen kiosks? What about touch-based wayfinding terminals and fast food menus? Is touch going to be another fatality of the coronavirus?
It’s probable that given people’s aversion to touch screen anything right now, the development of technologies like gesture and speech recognition, and smartphone remote control will be accelerated. But, touch isn’t going anywhere. At least not yet. For a couple of reasons:
So, until a better alternative is fully developed and in high enough demand, there’s no reason to be pessimistic about the future of touch.
“Experience” is something that is always being redefined, and perhaps one of the positives to come out of all this sweeping change is that consumers are now becoming more comfortable with the digital experience. Think about how quickly we all had to enter the digital fray. Think about how Zoom took over the world in a matter of weeks, how we acclimated to working remotely with virtual tools. We did it because we had to, and now that the tech is out there - it won’t be going away.
COVID-19 and digital signage will play a key role in accelerating the effort to embrace the "new consumer" and develop ways to accommodate and encourage industries to revitalize the way they do their business.
Looking back at January, it’s remarkable how ironically off, yet somehow still on-the-nose our 2020 predictions for the digital signage industry were. Little did we know how buzzwords like “contactless” would take on a life of their own in popular culture.
Little did we know just how and why AI and behavior analytics would gain the momentum for wide-scale adoption.
Little did we know just how badly we crave human interaction, and how deeply its absence could be felt in our daily lives. Little did we know how fast we could swoop in to replace it. Little did we know about anything, it seems.
Whether or not any of that was on your 2020 bingo card, it all demonstrates that right now, digital signage is more vital than ever before. And it will play an increasingly larger role in our return to work, to school, to travel, to life in the open.
Beyond that, we will see it tapped to change the consumer experience. In a situation with such deep and far-reaching impacts, it's likely that consumer behaviors will change over the long-term — well beyond the end of the pandemic.
Worry not - digital signage is still on trend.