Digital Signage vs Traditional Print

Digital Signage vs Traditional Print

Digital Signage vs Traditional Print

Has digital signage overtaken print media?

Digital signage usage has skyrocketed over the last decade. It’s not hard to see why either. Not only does it lend a professional look to any company’s signage, it also has the potential to perform better and achieve better results than its print counterpart.

It’s difficult to say if it has overtaken print media as the go-to option for most businesses. If going by a quick look at the shops, eateries and offices we frequent every day is anything to go by though, it wouldn’t be a surprise.

Indeed, it’s worth noting that the question we’re looking to answer isn’t a case of ‘will’ digital design overtake print media, it’s more of a case of ‘has it overtaken it already?’. And which should you be choosing as a business?

If it hasn’t usurped print media already as the choice of businesses everywhere, then there’s no doubting that it will at some stage, and soon. Its widespread usage has seemingly occurred overnight, such is the way that it has integrated into our lives so seamlessly with barely a hiccup.

Every so often, innovations come along that just make sense. Digital signage is one such innovation. Its capabilities are so well-tailored to advertising or the sharing of information, that it’s hard to imagine that there’s still companies that haven’t adopted it yet.

It’s not just the world of commerce that is finding it's benefits over print media either. 73% of educational institutions are on record as stating that they see the digital format as ‘crucial’ for the future of communication.

Because of its sheer scope for adaptability for different sectors, we’re bound to start seeing digital signage used for every possible function you could ever imagine.

It should be of no surprise then to read Grand View Research’s recent report on digital marketing growth that suggests that in the US alone, the market for digital signage was valued at $4.7 billion in 2019, and boasted an expected annual growth rate of 6.4% between 2020 and 2027.

Is this the ‘death’ of traditional print signage then? It perhaps isn’t the main player in the game anymore at least, and its share of the market seems to be diminishing by the day.

It’s hard to make a case for print media in the world of signage now. The digital version performs every task that print signage can, but better. Add to that the benefits of being able to utilise audio, video, and interactivity, and it’s clear that print media is yesterday’s medium.

At the moment, print media still has one ace up its sleeve, and that’s accessibility. After years of being the only option for signage needs, it’s not surprising that most towns and cities have several print outlets geared towards businesses.

Advances in online working and cloud technology however, make this a redundant feature.

It’s not unreasonable to expect that even scenarios in which small handwritten posters are made now, these may well be usurped by a digital counterpart very soon.

It’s already just as easy to create a design on a home computer and email it over to a community centre for inclusion on a digital notice board, than it is to draw one up by hand and have it stuck on a corkboard. The technology’s already here.

The advantages of digital media over print

Cost Implications

One of the main things that print media has going for it, is the public’s perception of it being a cheaper option. I say ‘perception’ because people tend to underestimate just how much print signage can cost.

That goes especially for businesses that have to update their signs regularly. Many estate agencies have switched to digital for this very reason. With an ever-changing portfolio of properties to advertise, an estate agency’s signage has to change on a regular basis. Even if they were to print the sales adverts themselves, the cost in printer ink alone for all those lovely full-colour pictures would soon add up.

When print signage is outsourced instead, the costs become even higher, and may even include additional fees for delivery and installation.

Whilst the installation of digital signage can sometimes be more expensive initially than that of print signage, it often becomes far more economical for businesses over the long run (or for those businesses that update signage or promotional material regularly, much sooner than that).

Alongside digital signage’s economic benefits in terms of cost, it also has the effect of being able to increase actual sales.

In a study conducted by FedEx, they found that seven out of ten people (68 percent) have purchased an item just because some signage has caught their eye.

With the savings that digital marketing can offer year on year against traditional print media, and the potential extra revenue that it can generate, it is undoubtedly the better and more economical choice when it comes to kitting out a store or running a promotional campaign.

In a survey undertaken by a series of fast food restaurants, 88.4% of those asked said that they had already recouped the cost of digital signage investment in the first 24 months, with most recouping their investment long before that.

Adaptability for change

One of the main benefits to digital signage is its unparalleled ability to allow your signage to adapt quickly to whatever you need.

If business owners who use traditional printed signage hit upon a great new idea, they have to wait for one to two weeks before any new signage promoting it can be produced and delivered. Not so with digital marketing. New content can be uploaded instantly, meaning that you can start rolling out your new initiatives straight away.

Similarly, this adaptability allows business owners to react to outside influences. A shoe store may launch a 10% off back-to-school sale, only to find that the other shoe store down the road has trumped them by offering 20% off everything instead.

Without digital advertising allowing the first shop to compete by changing its offer, it could easily stand to lose a great deal of business at one of their busiest times of the year, just because they’re waiting for revised promotional signage to be printed (at extra cost too!).

Has a big news story in your sector blown up recently? Capitalise on the buzz generated by creating promotional content that riffs on the story.

When vuvuzelas burst into the public consciousness overnight by filling every 2010 World Cup game with their unique noise from the stands, fans were inexplicably clambering over themselves to pick up their own noisy plastic horn for a couple of weeks.

Can you imagine if you owned a store at that time that had boxes full of dusty vuvuzelas piled up in the storeroom? By the time you’d received some new print signage to allow the public to know that you stocked them, the fad would have died off and you’d be left with the same boxes occupying valuable storage space.

The swiftness of digital signage to respond to whatever life throws at your business, makes it an invaluable tool to keep your company agile amongst its competition.

Targeting capabilities

Digital signage has the ability to better target a particular demographic than print media.and a large part of that is again, down to its sheer adaptability.

A white paper published by LG on making digital advertising work in shopping centres, attempted to find a solution to the assault on the senses that a modern shopping centre creates.

With so many different stores and brands battling it out for a customer’s attention, it can be easy for the public to block it all out as a sea of noise and visuals.

What’s worse is that with so many different demographics using the shopping centre, the centre’s advertisers tend to use a scattergun approach to marketing.

It’s almost futile to hope that an elderly shopper notices your advert for life insurance amongst a wall of flashy mobile phone and new car deals, and just as tricky for a teen to find your video game advert amongst all the mortgage and investment deals advertised.

What they found was that digital signage was able to be scheduled to coincide with the shopping centre’s demographic at any particular time of the day.

The shopping centre had long known that elderly shoppers tend to visit in the morning, mothers around midday, and children in the late afternoon and early evening.

By utilising this information, advertisers were able to target these demographics with ads tailored for them, without wasting time or money on advertising when their potential customer base wouldn’t be in the shopping centre.

Similarly, businesses are even able to target customers based on what’s happening around them. Dunkin’ Donuts utilised their digital signage to target cold members of the public with ads promoting hot drinks during some unseasonal weather, and again with cold drinks during an unusually hot period.


Digital advertising has no peer when it comes to interactivity. Unless you’re inviting customers to write on your signage, print media simply has no capacity for interaction.

Touchscreen displays allow for a myriad of uses for digital signage. Hotels have started using installations as ‘virtual concierge’ points, allowing guests to navigate around information on their new surroundings such as local events, pharmacies, or rules about room service etc.

They’re just as useful for event organisers, who can deploy information points that allow guests to check on scheduling of speakers, maps of the venue, and even provides scope for advertising revenue from sponsors.

Tesco meanwhile, have used information kiosks to make checking stock availability easy for customers. They even utilised interactive technology for their clothing lines, with digital signage making it possible for customers to virtually try on new outfits with a gesture-based system .

Not only does the interactive element of some digital screens help to make customers or clients feel like they’re engaging more with a company, it can also make them feel like their voice is being heard, or even that they’re receiving a more bespoke service based on their needs.

The information collated from interactive digital marketing also makes it easier to target your marketing more effectively, as well as giving you valuable insights into aspects of your company that your customers like and dislike. This alone can give you the information needed to really tailor your business to the needs and wants of your customer base.

User Experience

It’s easy to see why users might prefer the use of digital signage over traditional printed methods. As we’ve already noted, it’s a simple task for digitally operated signage to be targeted directly at a particular demographic to make it more relevant for the user. Nobody wants to be wading through content that is of little relevance to them before they find what they’re looking for.

Amongst a list of several benefits to businesses using digital signage, 47.2% of fast food outlet owners thought that increased customer satisfaction had been one of the main benefits to its usage.

It’s also undoubtedly a cleaner and tidier way to get information across to the customer.

Handing over reams of leaflets and information sheets can feel a little intrusive, and even a little daunting to be expected to get through whilst in a waiting area. Having a digital information screen deployed in a waiting area instead, is a much more relaxed way to impart information to customers, and to upsell without seeming pushy.

In a climate in which everyone is concerned about waste now more than ever, the use of piles of mostly unread leaflets seems an anachronism in the modern age too. Digital signage now creates a more professional and efficient impression than such methods.

First impressions are important, and trust in your business is crucial to building a strong relationship with your client base. This is doubly important for companies in which clients place control of some of their most sensitive data in the hands of, such as solicitors and accountancy firms.

Where to start when upgrading to digital design

For businesses that have traditionally relied on print signage, a switch to digital can offer up a dizzying array of options.

The first thing to start with is to ask yourself what the purpose of your signage should be, and what you’re hoping a successful installation can achieve for your business.

If your signage will be deployed on your premises, make sure you take a moment to really look around and try to establish where it could have the most impact. Even moving around old signage can help you to get a flavour of how your signage is received by your customers or clients.

With decisions to be made with hardware, software, additional features and deployment, it’s certainly recommended to have an expert at hand to guide you through the labyrinthine choices on offer.

Our team is able to recommend which type of installations will suit your company’s requirements best, talking you through the pros and cons of different types of digital setup.

Whether an exploratory conversation or an immediate switch to digital, we’re more than happy to have a chat. Contact our team today to get started.


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