Why using USB sticks with a smart TV is not recommended for digital signs

This image is of a collection of old USB sticks that can be used with digital signage.

In order to implement a successful digital signage strategy, business owners must have a way to get digital assets on their displays. One quick and easy way that businesses have done this is by using a USB drive with a Smart TV. For this method, the business employee places photos and videos on the USB drive and then inserts this USB drive into the display. The business is then able to show images and videos on their digital sign, store display, or menu board. However, while this method is quick and easy, there are several drawbacks. In this article, we will discuss several problems with using USB sticks for digital signage, and we will discuss how modern, cloud-based solutions from digital signage companies such as Screenly overcome these problems.

1. USB sticks require employees to travel to the display location

If a business hosts their digital signage content on a USB stick, the only way to update the USB stick with new content is if an employee travels to the physical location of the USB stick to update the content. This is particularly problematic for businesses that have multiple screens across several locations or across a large campus. Cloud-based signage software, like Screenly, allows businesses to avoid this travel time by allowing content to be uploaded remotely to the display signs. With such solutions, an employee can update content at all screen locations with the simple click of a button from his or her computer.

2. Difficulty with USB sticks leads to underutilized digital signage strategies

USB sticks take time to manage. As mentioned above, this time may include an employee physically traveling to the location of each monitor. Additionally, the USB stick needs to be removed from the digital display, plugged into a computer, uploaded with the new content, ejected, and then plugged back into the digital display. This process takes time, and this time can really add up when businesses have several screens to service. As a result of the time it takes to update displays with new content, businesses can fail to take advantage of the full potential of digital signage. For example, daily menu specials, notes for staff birthdays, or reminders for one time events are often not shown on digital signage if it is a hassle to update this content. Cloud-based digital signage solutions like Screenly remove the hassles associated with frequent content updates, as employees can update the content for multiple screens in just minutes.

3. USB sticks lack the ability for live or timed content

After a USB stick is uploaded with content and plugged into a display, there is not much more that can be done. The content in the USB is the content that will be shown. However, cloud-based digital signage software will allow a business more flexibility with their content. For example, cloud-based digital signage can allow the timing of content, such as only showing a “Good Morning” message during morning hours. Additionally, cloud-based digital signage can show live content such as changing business metrics on a real-time dashboard.

4. USB sticks to do not tell you if the display has stopped working

A common issue with digital signage that uses USB sticks and smart TVs is that there is no way to tell if a display has stopped showing content. This can become a real problem, especially for businesses with screens that may not be frequently seen by employees (such as large malls, digital signage advertising companies, or companies with outdoor digital signage). Often, a screen can be malfunctioning and not showing content at all for several days before the problem is reported. This makes the business look bad, and it makes the business lose opportunities for showing important marketing content and promotions. Cloud-based digital signage solutions can remotely monitor whether or not a digital display is showing content. In the event of a malfunction, these solutions can alert relevant employees so that any issues with displaying content can be quickly fixed.

Goodbye USB sticks

Digital signage is a continually growing industry as more and more business realize the value that digital signage can provide their bottom line. Hotels are using digital lobby signage. Advertising companies are using digital billboards in waiting rooms. Restaurants are using digital menu boards. SMEs are using digital signage to display real-time business metrics. Digital signage is even being used in videowalls with trade show booth design. The list goes on and on.

For the reasons above, each of these business use cases is best served by cloud-based solutions such as Screenly for the remote management of digital signage content. Without a cloud-based solution, businesses will spend too much time updating new content, they will underutilize digital signage strategies, and they will not have access to advanced content management features.