Monetizing Digital Signage

As digital signage continues to grow, many Pro AV integrators have made a conscious decision to avoid it.   The main reason I’ve been told when discussing the topic is the perception that digital signage is not profitable.   After spending time reviewing various integration partners’ digital signage strategy, I agree that the return on investment in time and resources just isn’t there.  The problem isn’t necessarily about a lack of revenue available, but rather the digital signage strategy that they’ve employed.

The simple truth is that many pro AV integration firms do not have a true signage strategy.  Almost all offer signage products.  Great products to boot.  Many even have a good understanding of how the signage products function.  What they lack is a strategy on how to deploy a successful, and yes, profitable full signage solution for their clients.  I believe this to be for one of three reasons.  The first, and probably most influential, is their sales team is not compensated for selling, what many would contend is a more difficult sale – a solution with ongoing costs.  Another reason that ties into the first, is the misconception that end users won’t see the value associated with an ongoing expense.  Lastly, the integrator believes they lack the resources needed to successfully complete such a project.

So, why should you care?  After all, coming up with a signage strategy may take some effort, and just because I’m paid to care probably isn’t a good enough reason for you.

Ok, glad you asked.  Here are the down-and-dirty bullet points to why you should care.  I’ve also provided a few recent “case studies” at the end that highlight the value of a solution.

  • Recurring Revenue
  • Higher margin
  • Consistent contact with clients
  • Reduce or eliminate competition

Grandview Research indicates the global digital signage market size was valued at USD 24.86 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.0% from 2023 to 2030.

The simple truth is, if you can’t offer your clients a solution, they may find someone else who can.

Now, this probably is not convincing enough, so let me show you how a few simple steps will allow you to build this business.

There are a few requirements in developing a digital signage strategy, which do take a little effort in the beginning, but little to no financial commitment from the integrator.  These include the following steps.

Step 1 –  Develop Partnerships

This is the most important part of the process and may require assistance from a third party – like your favorite Pro AV distributor.

The most common partnership is with a digital signage content management provider.  These companies specialize in providing the software and services necessary to provide a complete solution.  Below are some key factors you should consider when finding a signage solution.

  • Client base
  • Features needed
  • Player options
  • Security Needs
  • Additional Services
  • Channel Friendly
  • Expertise required

Your client base is used to determine which integrations or services they would typically need.  Verticals typically require similar integrations, so knowing which verticals you wish to service helps thin out the options.

Next, you’ll need to find the correct provider.  Many digital signage providers specialize in one or two verticals, which typically coincide with similar verticals that Pro AV integration firms will focus on.  One of our CMS partners, offers the integrations commonly requested by higher education (CAP) as well as corporate (Power BI) – both verticals are highly sought after by many of our integration partners.

Once identified, develop partnership(s) with these digital signage provider(s) that offer the products and services your client needs, as well as provide services that enhance your company’s offerings.   You may only need one well-rounded partner to fit all your needs.

Many of the CMS partners we work with can take most projects from needs analysis, all the way through to completion, and even after sale training.

Step 2 – Signage Evangelist

Assign someone (or ask for a volunteer) the role of Signage Evangelist.  This person does not need to have any specific experience but should serve as the main contact so that requests are funneled through a single contact to make sure requests are properly directed.  These are then directed to the partnership from Step 1.

Step 3 – Operations

Assign internal operational assignments for subscription processing to make sure recurring revenue is accounted for and collected.

Step 4 – Compensation

Establish a pay structure that rewards sales of recurring revenue products to help drive interest in signage projects.

Now that I’ve covered the steps to developing a strategy, below are a few recent case studies that highlight how having a signage solution adds value to both your clients, as well as your bottom line.

Case 1

A 6-display video wall for a Fortune 50 corporation. The initial sale was for 6 media players behind a video wall.  Excluding the displays, mounts, etc., the total signage revenue was about $2100.

After deployment, it was apparent that the end user was having a difficult time managing the content for the video wall and keeping content relevant. After some discussions, it was determined that the project needed a signage solution provider.  A channel-friendly CMS was brought into the mix, who was able to conduct a needs analysis, provide a virtual demo a temporary license, and lastly a proof of concept.

After 6 months, the end user liked the solution so well that they rolled it out to several displays located throughout their building.  Then even later into additional buildings.  This accounted for another $150K+ in business, including over $6K in services at over 50% margin, and an annual recurring license of $32K.  The license was sold at 20% margin, which the integrator will collect annually.

Case 2

A local school purchased a single display as an information board for the school’s sports activities, to be managed by one of the coaches.  The original integrator deployed a digital media player behind a display but didn’t offer training or additional services to get it up and running.

After a year, a new integrator came in to provide a touch display for a classroom and asked about the blank screen.  He was then allowed to loop in a signage partner to perform a needs analysis via Zoom.  The signage partner was able to overcome any concerns the school had, who purchased a single license a few weeks later.

That solution is now district-wide on over 60 displays.


It’s my belief that signage will continue to grow within the Pro AV space, and that annual recurring contracts will become the norm.  My goal is to help clients navigate that change while adding value to their business.  If I can help your business in any way, please feel free to contact me, or your Exertis Almo account manager.

Todd Heberlein
About the Author

Todd Heberlein | CTS, DMC-D-4K, DSCE

Senior BDM – Technical Lead

Supported Manufacturers: LG dvLED and Brightsign

Why I Made My Kids Play Sports

Why I Made My Kids Play Sports

When my friends and I were kids, there really wasn’t a question of IF you were going to play sports, but rather which sports your parents would allow you to play.  Every kid in my neighborhood was involved in some sort of team sport, ranging from baseball to volleyball. As we reached high school age, there were a few of my friends that moved away from playing sports and into other interests, like video games or frequently, afterschool jobs.  A few of us were fortunate enough to parley our passion for sports into college scholarships, where lessons were learned as kids were refined and solidified.

I recently sat down with these friends, had a few adult beverages, and tried to fix the problems of the world as we often do after some liquid wisdom.  As we relived some of our glory days in high school, one topic of conversation was how different our activities were from the kids of today.  I’m sure every generation has similar concerns about the upcoming youth, but one thing that came to mind for many of us was how many kids today miss out on the many life lessons we learned by playing sports.  In a day when you can simply “rage quit” a video game, life lessons are very different.

I’m not going to pretend that team sports are the only way to learn certain life skills, or that every person that plays sports learns these lessons. I simply recognize that some skills I developed were because of my experience playing sports, and many that I lean on in my profession today.  I also believe that sports offer exposure to attributes that many employers desire in their employees.

Because of this, as well as the social aspects, I spent a lot of time influencing (aka forcing) my sons to join the local sports team when they were of age.  I knew that at the end of a lot of hard work was important life lessons, as well as some fun and possible lifelong friendships. Now they are old enough to have professional lives of their own, and I believe have benefitted from their experience by developing some of the life skills below.


Teamwork is an easy concept; however, I’ve found that the importance of TEAM is often overlooked.  In many sports, teamwork is everything, however there are some where one great player can make a winning team.  On the football field, it takes all 11 players.  I learned that lesson firsthand against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, as they used the triple option, and my team’s lack of teamwork to roll to a 55-27 victory. You learn very quickly to rely on others to do their job, and how important it is for them to be able to rely on you.  Without that reliance, people try to do multiple jobs and end up failing at both.  The same thing goes for business.  If you can rely on the team around you, you are able to focus on your job so that nothing slips through the cracks, and nobody is duplicating efforts.


This goes hand in hand with teamwork.  If the defense on a pick and roll in basketball allows one person to go free, the culprit is almost always miscommunication.  Business communication is just as important.  Learning how to communicate in an effective, and efficient way, while maintaining good team chemistry is a constant learning process.  Admittedly, I can get focused on efficiency, and forget the team chemistry portion of it, so it’s a skill that I continue to develop.


Most people on a team don’t get to lead.  This doesn’t mean you can’t learn the skills if you’re not the actual leader.  One friend recounted how he learned more about leadership in one season of college football than in many years prior or since.  During a year of adversity, including injuries to their starting and backup QB, most football coaches would be incredibly frustrated, which would trickle down to the team.  However, my friend’s coach happened to be an ex-NFL QB, and knew the meaning of adversity.  He remained calm and looked for solutions instead of blame.  Where others might have crumbled, he remained steadfast. He galvanized the team, and they closed the season with 3 wins, and came within one extra point of making a bowl game that year.  He still dislikes kickers.

Mental Toughness / Perseverance

This one is easy to understand for anyone that has played a sport and lost.  I have to say, this might be easier to learn in individual sports, like tennis, wrestling, or swimming.  Being able to pick yourself up, push through, and try again the next time develops the mental toughness to succeed and anything you put your mind to.  The importance of this in business, or even getting a job is obvious.  To me, this is one of the greatest skills I’ve learned over the years.


One friend was lucky enough to pitch in the college World Series.  This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but also came with a ton of pressure.  In the first inning, he was already in trouble.  He was struggling with his command and walked the first batter of the inning.  The next batter got on base with a bloop single into right field, and he now had runners on first and third with no outs.  Instead of panicking, he leaned into his years of training and experience and was able to use the pressure situation to focus his efforts.  With a strikeout, and a double play, he escaped the inning with no runs scored.  He went on to throw a shutout for the innings he pitched.  He now uses the resilience he learned in sports to run a successful software company and gives credit to the many lessons he learned playing baseball.

Goal setting

Playing sports typically consists of setting multiple goals, even if you don’t realize it.  Whether it’s the goal to win a championship, make the playoffs, or just get that first base hit, most kids that play sports have set goals without even realizing it.  Successful athletes are those that set goals, and then work to achieve those goals through practice and effort.  Successful entrepreneurs, salespeople, even students can benefit from this skill.

There are many other life skills that sports can develop, and I’m sure many of you have stories of your own about how your experience playing a kid’s game helped you in your professional life.  I’d love to hear some of the stories, and hopefully we can sit around and share some over your beverage of choice at the next E4 show.

Angie Greene

About the Author

Todd Heberlein | CTS, DSCE

Sr. Business Development Manager – Technical Lead 


The Multi-Use Video Wall

There was a time in the not so recent past, when the technology, design, and installation of video walls was financially out of reach of the average business. Not only was it a large financial investment, but there was typically a major time investment by the user to learn how to properly operate the system.

Some of you may have had an experience in the past (or possibly even recently) where you walked into a conference room containing a 2 x 2 video wall, a control panel on the table, and cables seemingly growing from somewhere within. The space that was meant to be a showpiece, ended up being a source of much frustration, as non-technical users struggled to share their presentations, or even turn on the displays. Meetings would start late as the presenter attempted to find the correct cable and press the correct series of buttons. Forget about using it to watch the big game during some after-work bonding.

As technology has improved, and costs have come down, video walls are no longer reserved for the uber rich corporations, pro sports team, or mega churches. Instead, they’ve become almost ubiquitous, appearing at your local fitness center, airport, house of worship, or even in the entrance of a tanning salon.

More than ever, video walls need to be easy to understand, and easy to manage. Because many of the smaller companies investing in a video wall have limited space, these video walls must also be multi-purpose. Instead of being set aside specifically for quarterly board member presentations, they are now used for an impromptu employee meeting, a hybrid sales meeting, employee entertainment, or showing off your latest project to a prospective client.

Since the popularity has continued to grow, more integrators are being asked to design and install large video wall systems. Previously, the integrator would need to be very familiar with ISF guidelines for calibration, and walls would need to be re-calibrated every few months. Now, such advancements like auto calibration, or pre-calibrated dvLED bundles, the barrier to entry is much smaller.

Let’s take a look at some current technology we can utilize to create an easy to use, easy to manage, video wall with multiple functions.

Display technology

Video walls are no longer limited to a number of ultra-thin bezel displays arranged in a matrix, with an expensive, multiple input processor behind it. Because of the decrease in pixel size, as well as cost, a fine pixel pitch dvLED display in either 16:9, 21:9, or 32:9 aspect ratio would offer an affordable, long lasting, and easy to manage solution. Popular display manufacturers like LG have “all in one” packages that include the mount, cabinets, controller, dvLED modules and even sound. The installation has been simplified, and the modules come pre calibrated so they look great out of the box.

dvLED video wall

There are a number of benefits of using a dvLED display including no bezels, 100,000 half-life, and a controller with multiple inputs. The best thing, many models can be controlled with the same remote control that you use on the 55” display in your breakroom.

The next step is to determine the Main Use of this display, and what additional technology is necessary.

Main Usage: Presentation

A presentation is the type of application typically found in a boardroom. A manufacturer whose name has become synonymous with wireless presentations is Barco. Since the introduction of the Barco Clickshare, wireless presentations have become the norm, and many manufactures have followed suit, chasing the Clickshare success.

The Barco product allows users to walk into any Clickshare enabled space, and quickly and wirelessly present content from any device, including a cell phone or tablet. For more details, I suggest contacting your Exertis Almo rep, or one of our Barco BDMs.

But what about when the room isn’t being used for presentations? With the Clickshare device, you have additional flexibility, including digital signage. With a few quick steps, you can use the Clickshare to display digital signage presentation when not in wireless presentation mode. Keep people informed, inspired, and impressed (borrowed that from Barco).

digital signage

Now, adding some entertainment to the mix is a simple as sharing content from your personal device via the wireless system, or using a Barco model with HDMI inputs to add in your cable or satellite (you could also use a secondary input on the video wall).

Main Usage: Digital Signage

There are quite a few video walls installed whose only purpose will continue to be digital signage. These tend to be located in public spaces such as airports, stadiums, or Times Square. For less public applications, there may be times when the owners of these large displays would like to utilize them for other purposes, like a sales meetings, or entertainment. Digital signage software companies, like Enplug, understood the need and took action. Using a BrightSign player, which is built for digital signage, and the Enplug CMS, the owner not only gets a reliable, easy to manage digital media player, but they add in the flexibility to show live TV (using an HDMI input on the XT1145), share content from a mobile device (streaming through the Enplug software), or even control the various other AV products in the room via RS232.

Main usage: UC (Zoom Room / Teams Room)

Teams or Zoom rooms continue to gain popularity as the workforce continues to be divided between on-site and at home employees. These rooms allow for collaboration between people in various locations. Previously these rooms were used exclusively for these applications, which obviously limits their usefulness. Zoom and Microsoft recognized the value of adding additional flexibility and have added digital signage functionality to their platform.

Unfortunately, for live TV, or other entertainment features, the user would need to utilize the additional inputs, or smart features of their display.

There are many other uses for video walls, and odd aspect ratios, or mosaic type walls still require expertise. However, I hope that I’ve provided some insight on how current technology has made creating a flexible, easy to manage, and easy to operate video wall a project that any AV integrator can tackle. If you wish to learn more about video walls, digital signage, or other technology that Exertis Almo partners with, please visit the Exertis Almo website, and navigate to the page on our many BDMs. Let us work with you on finding the right technology for your next project.

Todd Heberlein
About the Author

Todd Heberlein | CTS, DMC-D-4K, DSCE

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: Digital Signage Services, Technical (National), BrightSign

5 Possible Benefits of an External Media Player

Digital Signage Players

I spend much of my day discussing digital signage projects with system integrators, consultants, and end users. I know, you are probably wondering how I got so lucky. You may even be thinking about a career change. Not so fast my friend, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Some of it can actually be confusing, or even frustrating.

Working in distribution affords me the advantage of having many choices when deciding on a game plan for a digital signage project. What I see as an advantage can be daunting to the average consumer. One decision that can appear to be easy on the surface, can often come back to be an important one.

With manufacturers including a signage player as part of the display (sometimes referred to as System on Chip, or SoC), it can be a challenge for consumers to see value of an external player. It is simple assume that when faced with adding the cost of an additional piece of hardware, it would be better to use the built-in player on a display.

In some circumstances, it makes sense to use the SoC. This is especially popular in retail applications. We’ve seen successful deployments, where simple video or image playback is all that is needed, and the budget was one of the largest deciding factors. However, the flexibility of an external media player can oftentimes be the key to a successful deployment.

There are a numerous manufacturers of digital signage media players. They come with operating systems, ranging from open source options like Android to the ubiquitous Windows OS. Some of the more popular manufacturers have created their own OS, specifically made for digital signage. These have been proven especially efficient, as well as secure.

There are different abilities for each SoC as well as each external player. However, the features listed below are typically included as part of the external player ecosystem.

1. Player Management

Content management is the prime focus of CMS providers…it’s literally in the name (CMS = Content Management Software). Player management is almost never a focus, especially since most CMS platforms work on a variety types of players and operating systems. Their agnostic approach allows them to be retrofit into previous deployments, as well as specified in current projects.

With the world’s most popular media player brand, the ability to manage remotely, including player setup, reboot, and even player reset if needed, is their main focus. A free software, specifically focused on allowing users to manage almost every aspect of their players, allows for separation of responsibilities. This allows the IT department to focus on managing the players, and their network, while the remaining team can focus on content management.

church audio solutions

2. Firmware

In consumer applications, firmware updates are typically done to take advantage of a new feature release. In commercial applications, the features take a back seat to security. Many displays with included software can provide an ingress for hackers, so updating the firmware helps maintain the security at the highest level.

Updating the firmware on your display can have an adverse effect on the digital signage content management software. There are times when the management software has not been updated at the time of the firmware release, which can cause the glitches due to a firmware mismatch.

An external media player remains separate from the display firmware, allowing your signage to remain functioning.

3. Horsepower

The ability to choose an external player with processing power and memory that matches your digital signage needs now, as well as into the future, may only be available if using an external player. The SoC provided in displays may be powerful enough to play images and videos but may lack performance when additional content comes into play.

External media players range from basic video and image playback to multi-output, 3D capable video engines capable of playing the most demanding content.

4. Triggers

External media players can have various IO ports, as well as methods for communicating with their players. USB ports allow for the connection to an overlay or button panel to trigger playback of content. Some even over a GPIO port (short for General-Purpose Input/Output), allowing one to integrate numerous connections. This is important if you want to trigger playback using something other than the Ethernet port.

Connecting a fire alarm, button push, or something else that can be used to trigger the playback of content is important.

5. Hot Swap

As reliable as displays have become, most are replaced every 3 years for one reason or another. This can be because of improvements in technology, product failure, or even a matter of aesthetics. The replacement of a display does not have to mean downtime on the digital signage. If an external media player is being used, it is only a matter of plugging it into the HDMI port of the new display.

Along with hot swapability (I know, it’s not a word), there are also additional benefits. When a power outage occurs, most external media players automatically restart playing media as soon as the power is back. There is no human interaction needed. Since the failure rate of the top external media players is so low, I’ve seen them running for 10 years straight without interruption.


The list above provides some of the more popular reasons people continue to use an external media player, but there are many more. I didn’t even touch on video walls, or other multi-display deployments. Just because a media player is included in the commercial display of your choice, there are still a number of good reasons that an external player should be considered. If you’d like to discuss your project, or wish to learn more, feel free to contact me at

Todd Heberlein
About the Author

Todd Heberlein | CTS, DMC-D-4K, DSCE

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: Digital Signage Services, Technical (National), BrightSign

A 4-Step Signage Strategy

The global digital signage market size was estimated at around 23 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 7.7% from 2022 to 2030, with the largest market being North America. We’ve all seen digital signage in our daily lives and have come to expect it when we walk into a hotel, retail location, or even a corporate office. So, why are so many Pro AV integrators hesitant to make it a part of their business plan? Choices… too many of them. There are literally hundreds of CMS (Content Management System) providers currently on the market, and many integrators aren’t sure which one offers their client what they need. Many CMS providers have attempted to make digital signage appear simple, and some have been relatively successful.  The truth of it is, if it’s too simple, it probably lacks some necessary functionality. If not for your current client, most likely for the next one. Since digital signage is so varied, the software needed could never be simple while still addressing the needs of every client.

The Reason Why

So, why should a Pro AV integrator ever get involved in such a mired mess?  I’ll give you a couple of reasons. First, if you’re not doing it, your competitor probably is. Second, the market is HUGE, and continues to grow at near double digits each year. Digital signage offers the unique ability to engage with your client on an annual basis, at a minimum, and develop a recurring revenue stream that builds profitability over time. Digital signage was originally known as digital out of home advertising but is now used as a method of digital communication.  It communicates ideas, data, dates, times, events, news, weather, inspiration, etc. My fingers would fall off before I can list the various uses, and there are people finding new ways every day. It’s here to stay, so you might as well jump on board. The first step is creating a strategy that doesn’t put a strain on your company, while still being able to offer everything needed for your sophisticated clients.

Step 1 – Find a Partner

Even though there are so many uses, and hundreds of software choices to help facilitate those uses, it all boils down to methods of communication. Just as there are many methods to create a beautiful painting, it still comes down to a brush, some pigment, and something to paint on. For signage, it’s content, a way to manage the content, and a display on which to play the content. As an integrator, you serve as a resource to the end user, but you don’t need to paint the picture for them – just set up the brush and canvas, and let the painters do their work. Most projects are pretty straight forward, but for those that require a bit more, there are digital signage experts that spend their day knee-deep in the inner workings and are willing to provide assistance. The key to a successful strategy is finding a partner that has enough options to choose from, while still remaining knowledgeable in each option enough to guide you to provide the best solution for your client. These partners can be value added distributors, digital signage content creation firms, or even local digital signage integrators. This step is the key to developing a strategy, without having to hire a slew of experts internally. There are partners, like Exertis Almo, that offer a number of options, both in hardware and software, and can provide the resources needed to help with almost any digital signage project you run into. They also have some key partners that they work with to provide things not covered by the hardware or software.

Step 2 – The Committee

After securing a partner that provides resources and expertise needed, the next step is getting the key players from your client together. This is something that Pro AV integrators are extremely qualified for.  Knowing your clients and developing relationships within that client is something nobody else can do for you. The most important thing an integrator can do to ensure a successful project is get the correct people involved.  Many projects are relegated to the IT department of an end user, but shouldn’t stop there. In order to be successful, we need to involve any person that will be involved with the digital signage. This should be a formal or informal committee that the end user has put together. This committee should consist of key people that will utilize the system in some way. I suggest including marketing, IT, facilities, HR, and the CEO or other officer responsible for saying “yes” to the project.  You should also include the person responsible for the day to day management of the content, even if it’s a part time administrative assistant. Having a digital signage partner doesn’t mean you’re done with the project. It just allows you to do what you do best and leave some of the technical aspects of signage to someone else. This eliminates a lot of the time suck that can be associated with signage.

Step 3 – Needs Analysis

This portion can be done via a video conference with your signage partner, or there are a few key questions you can ask your client to start the process. No matter if you are passing the information over to a partner that will run with the rest of the project, or passing it on to an internal resource to finish out the project, there are 5 key questions you can ask to help provide direction. The great thing about these questions is they don’t require any in-depth knowledge of signage.
  1. What is the overall objective of the digital signage?
  2. Who will be responsible managing the content, and do they have technical skills? List everyone that will “touch” the system and indicate what responsibility they will have.
  3. Will the digital signage be interactive or pull from a data source? Weather, news, PowerBI, database? If so, please provide details.
  4. Do you have a preference for on-premise or a cloud solution?
  5. Who is creating the content, and how will it be kept timely and relative?
After the needs analysis has been completed, your signage partner should be able to suggest a combination of hardware, software, and additional services that fit the needs of your client. These services can even include installation services, which can further aid in making sure you are able to service your client best, without any additional strain on your company.

Step 4 – Deployment

As a system integrator, this should be right in your wheelhouse. Because signage hardware includes an IT element, making sure you have the correct people involved is key. I suggest involving your signage partner in the planning and possibly in the actual deployment. The key to a successful deployment can sometimes hinge on having a resource for contingencies. __________ To discuss the strategies above, or to hear more about how Exertis Almo can help you develop a customized strategy for your client, please contact me via email. Good luck!

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