Here are key facts to know about free digital signage software:
- Digital signage media players are never part of freemium services because they cost money. Yes, you will need to BUY a digital signage media player-despite all the luring advertising copy that repeats “free” all over the place. A digital signage solution requires hardware to make it work.
- Freemium signage software does not offer free support! Instead, you get do-it-yourself (DIY) support. That’s right, rather than playing golf in your spare time, you will have to learn a new hobby called “tinkering” to keep your so-called free system running. How much is your time worth? Free software will likely end up costing you a fortune in “sweat equity” alone. But this is only the beginning of your woes.
- Speaking of DIY support, you also get DIY software support, DIY network support, DIY media player support, DIY system support, etc. Again, how much is your time worth? With epic amounts of wasted time tinkering, you could have paid much less to a reputable company that has a reasonably priced system with built-in support. Such a company has pride in their workmanship and doesn’t intend to profit from your pain.
- OK, here’s the real deal. After you fill your diary with cuss words and you decide to reach out for help, the freemium company will now step in with an exorbitant fee to fix all of your problems-and this is how they make their money-charging you a premium for support and add-ons because you made an emotional commitment to the nebulous concept of “free” and just want it to all work. Of course, a company with a non-gimmicky approach using a reasonably priced SaaS fee will cover all of these support issues at no extra cost-usually the same day!
Finally, let’s consider another pricing gimmick that is the opposite of free-paying too much! Yes, there are specific pricing models where the gimmick is to get you to think that if you spend more you get more. This trick is typically called something like “master licensing fee,” or whatever name you want to give a fee to hide unnecessary costs.
Why not find a digital sign company that doesn’t insult your intelligence by overcharging you for nothing more than the privilege of using their signage software?
Or, why patronize a digital signage company that insists on profiting from your pain? The more you suffer, the more they will charge you! Where’s the incentive to build a great product?
Of course, it’s always a good idea to search for the best value when shopping for digital signage software, which is based on the best fit for your needs. Consider doing your due diligence to understand better what you need now and in the future. Such self-knowledge also tells you when it makes sense to buy a mix of products or services that will earn you better value. The more you learn beforehand about the tweaks in each vendor’s approach, the better you’ll know when a seemingly good deal might come back to bite you and eat your lunch, too.
I’d encourage you to ask for references and seek out those who have an unbiased opinion on the matter. I’ve been involved in the digital signage industry for about 20 years doing both consulting and design. I never had a serious person ask me on a scope-of-work if the digital signage was free, but I have been asked many times the cost of ownership.
Do you want a good laugh at your expense? Tell people who are executing a digital signage strategy mixed with omnichannel integration overlaid with vertical content parting that is cued by real-time activity triggers that you found the perfect solution-and it’s free!
When it comes to building solutions on the pillars of technology, it requires trust, gravitas, ingenuity, engineering, genius, and old-fashioned customer support. As you may have guessed by now, free is not a factor if your job or the outcome really matters to you.
Bottom line: Free digital signage software is not the same as a digital signage solution.