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There was a time when out-of-home (OOH) media consisted primarily of static billboards, posters, and printed signs affixed to outdoor fixtures like bus stops and the like. Now, the digital age has ushered in a new era of digital OOH marketing, providing enhanced features that better engage audiences, allow for targeted media campaigns, and even enable interaction between the targeted audience and the host.

The slick, high-definition (and often touchscreen-enabled and sensor-laden) displays garner passersby's attention and targeted audiences within the digital signage space. Still, it is the software quietly working behind the scenes that makes everything happen, as in what gets displayed and when. 

Best of all, particularly for small enterprise owners who are new to digital signage, many great software options are free.

Image via Retail Wire

The 19 Best Free Digital Signage Software

Regardless of size, just about any organization or enterprise stands to benefit from digital signage. Today's digital signage software offerings include powerful features and capabilities that can be implemented and maintained completely in-house without the need to outsource the management of digital content.

Many developers offer open-source versions of their software that are free to download and use. In contrast, others invite potential users to participate in free trials to determine whether their products are a good fit for a particular organization's digital content needs.

Here are the 19 best digital signage software platforms that are free to use or test out:

Chrome Sign Builder

For those operating devices with Google's Chrome installed, the Chrome Sign Builder is a free and easy way to cast signs across connected displays. Chrome Sign Builder is simply an extension that gets downloaded and appended to the Chrome browser in a matter of minutes and is quick to learn.

Although Chrome Sign Builder is not a standalone digital signage software and lacks many of the developers' enhanced features, for those who specialize in this field, it is more than adequate for casual users. Those who simply want to display information that may not require frequent updating or need to convey fluid, real-time data will be satisfied with this software.

Here are some of the things that Chrome Sign Builder can do once it has been installed on a networked computer or device:

  • Display information contained in a website (e.g., breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus for a restaurant)
  • Play YouTube videos (can be programmed to play on a loop)
  • Display presentations created on Google Slides (similar to Microsoft Powerpoint)
  • Create playlists and schedule specific content to play at a particular time

Concerto

Developed by a student-run group at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York, Concerto is an open-source, Linux-based digital signage software that, despite being free to use, offers a full suite of features.  These elements are designed to produce impactful presentations that can be streamed through a computer and displayed on any connected monitor or TV.

Features of the Concerto software include:

  • Transmission capability to multiple screens
  • Compatibility with popular formats
  • Ideal for information sharing across a large community (e.g., a college campus like RPI)
  • Concerto is easily deployed with a growing and capable, peer-based support network

DigitalSignage.com

This is a web-based digital signage software developed by MediaSignage in Los Angeles. It is designed to be a user-friendly digital content management system for enterprises ranging in size from small, independent operators to large conglomerates with expansive digital media networks. 

By creating a free account through its online portal, DigitalSignage clients can design their digital content and incorporate ready-to-use features like weather reports and social media feeds using simple drag and drop functions. 

The design and layout of signage content are straightforward using built-in tools and templates and does not require any computer coding knowledge to produce professional-looking displays.

Other DigitalSignage software features and benefits include:

  • Ability to remotely push new or updated digital content to all networked displays
  • Compatibility with virtually all major device platforms, including Windows (PC), iOS (iPad), and Android
  • Presentations are securely stored in DigitalSignage's cloud system
  • A single presentation can be shown across browsers, computers, tablets, mobile devices, smart TVs, and set-top boxes for an incredibly broad reach

Display Monkey

Developed by Fuel9 LLC based in Florida, Display Monkey is another browser-based digital signage software that is open-sourced for all enterprises, small and large, to use for digital content management. Powerful presentation enhancement tools are available to transform messages and ideas into impactful visual content that will engage and inform the target audience.

Display Monkey digital signage software features include:

  • Seamless uploading of images and videos with most formats supported
  • Link YouTube videos with full video and audio functionality
  • Flexible content scheduling and customizable display hierarchies
  • Adaptable templates for effortless layout and design of presentation pages

Embed Signage

The digital signage platform developed by Embed Signage is a feature-rich content management system with few peers as far as breadth and depth of available functions. Although it is a paid subscription service, Embed Signage also offers a free 28-day trial period, which should be just enough time to test out the myriad of powerful tools and features built into the software.

Embed Signage's digital content software is currently configured to run on nine operating systems, including Windows, iOS, Android, Chrome, etc. As a comprehensive digital signage solution, Embed Signage is a one-stop-shop for designing presentations, deploying them to designated displays in the network, and gathering detailed screen data to make crucial business decisions.

Here are the key features of Embed Signage's digital content software:

  • Layout optimization creates perfect presentations adapted to every screen resolution
  • Limitless deployment options including days of the week, time of day, and even conditional playback should certain rules be met
  • Comprehensive network management including display-specific data like screen resolution, offline status, and more
  • Coding-free setup of interactive touchscreen capabilities

Info-beamer

Developed by German developer inlua GmbH, Info-Beamer is an open-source digital signage software platform that is straightforward in its implementation. It may be best utilized by clients who are comfortable with Linux as a certain amount of programming knowledge is required to adapt to Info-beamer's proprietary Lua computer language.

For users of its free, self-hosted version, Info-beamer has optimized its software to run on the Raspberry Pi, one of the world's most popular micro-computing systems that are an integral part of many digital signage networks around the world. (Info-beamer also offers paid subscriptions for hosted services.)

For its devoted base of loyal users, Info-Beamer offers these benefits:

  • The open-source code can be customized to fit each user's specific needs
  • The easily-learned Lua coding language enables powerful editing capabilities to enhance presentation functionality while providing polished aesthetics 
  • A broad range of image and video formats are supported, along with TrueType fonts (TTF)
  • Files can be organized and quickly deployed through Info-beamer's proprietary “node” system (data folders and hierarchies)

Intuiface

Headquartered in France with regional headquarters in the U.S. and Taiwan, Intuiface offers free and paid digital signage software with an emphasis on digital content with functionalities creating interaction with the target audience via technologies including:

  • Touch and gestures
  • Audio prompts (voice recognition)
  • Virtual reality (VR)

The creation of presentations using the Intuiface program requires a PC running Windows 7, 8, or 10. Still, digital content can then be displayed on devices operating on Windows, Android, iOS, and Chrome platforms, as well as several others. Intuiface's content management systems offer a full suite of interactive components regardless of pricing level (including the free version).

The free version of Intuiface's digital signage software offers features including:

  • 3 GB of cloud storage for digital presentation content
  • Unlimited analytics including data harvesting and analysis 
  • Powerful widgets for incorporating real-time social media and live weather feeds
  • Multiple playback options including portrait and landscape orientations and test mode for previewing presentations 

MangoSigns

The MangoSigns digital signage software is a cloud-based content management platform used by prominent companies and organizations, including major hotel chains, professional sports leagues, and international movie studios. But it is also scalable to suit the needs of smaller enterprises who want to lend an air of polish and professionalism to their digital presentations.

Although MangoSigns is a paid service under a subscription model, a hassle-free 14-day trial period for the premium level platform is offered to potential customers. 

MangoSigns software features include:

  • Extensive library of ready-to-use templates consisting of hundreds of presentation layouts
  • Powerful content editor provides powerful design tools, including animation
  • Extensive content scheduling features, including daily, weekly, and even yearly playlists, as well as location selection

As an important caveat, the MangoSigns platform requires that each screen be connected to a compatible, third-party device onto which the MangoSigns player software has been installed (MangoSign also has its own proprietary device). These devices are relatively inexpensive and readily available but do represent hardware costs that correlate to the number of screens in the digital content network.

NoviSign

Image via NoviSign

Over 20,000 businesses worldwide have entrusted their digital signage needs to Israeli software developer NoviSign's content management platform. From digital menu boards to interactive wayfinding displays to smart infotainment screens, NoviSign is considered an industry leader in the digital content space. Its illustrious list of clients backs up this notion.

Although NoviSign is a paid software, interested customers can sign up for a generous 30-day free trial that includes the platform's full array of features (the only limitations pertain to cloud storage and file upload sizes). This is intended to afford ample opportunity to test its many capabilities thoroughly.

The primary benefits and features of the NoviSign digital signage software include:

  • Online presentation design studio includes highly polished templates and easy-to-use editing tools
  • Drag and drop NoviSign widgets add captivating elements like scrolling news ribbons, real-time weather updates, and live TV to any presentation
  • Extensive scheduling functions including repeat, playing duration, and playlist formatting
  • Compatible with major operating platforms including Windows, Android, Chrome, and more

Opensignage

Opensignage's Narrowcasting digital signage software is free to download for all users and offers an impressive suite of functions that make this a great option for independent operators and large enterprises alike (particularly those on a tight, digital content budget).

Created by a developer in the Netherlands, Opensignage is currently formatted for Windows, Android, and Linux platforms. Getting started is simply a matter of signing up for a free account, downloading and installing the Narrowcasting software, and then configuring all players within the digital casting network.

Features and benefits of Opensignage digital content management software include:

  • Simply logging in through any web browser provides unhindered access to any display on the Opensignage network 
  • No limit on the number of screens supported
  • A clear and simple dashboard makes content management quick and easy to learn
  • Automatic software updates and free tech support

piSignage

piSignage digital signage software is used by over 30,000 users worldwide with over 50,000 players in current use. An open-source version of this software is free but requires users to manage all players in their digital network through the open-source server. 

piSignage's paid platform is offered through a license, which is a one-time purchase (one license per display) along with an annual subscription, but two free licenses are offered just for signing up through the company's website.

Features and benefits of the piSignage digital signage software include:

  • Full HD capability
  • Easy uploading of files, URLs, and video links
  • Content scheduling and playlist formatting

Rise Vision

With corporate offices in the U.S. and Canada, Rise Vision has over 9,000 clients worldwide for its digital signage software. Although it is perfectly suited for business enterprises, Rise Vision's sled-described focus for deploying its content management platform is toward educational institutions with over 3,000 schools among its current clients. By 2027, Rise Vision aims to have over 1,000,000 displays in schools.

Rise Vision offers both free and paid versions of its digital signage software. The open-source variant offers robust yet user-friendly, straightforward-to-use features but highly effective as far as enhancing digital messaging while presenting it in an eye-catching manner.

Rise Vision's content management system features include:

  • The open-source platform is adaptable to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript formats
  • Over 260 presentation templates available (with more being added regularly) to reduce time spent designing content (up to 16 hours saved)
  • Customized templates can be created using almost any content editor
  • Nearly 98% of Rise Vision displays ran as expected, and nearly 99% of customers reported being satisfied 

ScreenHub

Developed by New Hampshire-based Cirrus Systems, ScreenHub is a cloud-based content management solution system designed for digital signage networks of all sizes, from a single screen to over a thousand displays. The free software version includes 5 GB of cloud storage for digital content as well as automatically pushed software updates.

Other ScreenHub features include:

  • Full remote access to entire networks, including real-time monitoring and powering down and rebooting specific locations
  • Full image and video editing capabilities including JPG, PNG, and MP4 file extensions
  • Up 100 MB file upload capability
  • Seamless social media integration and advanced live weather feed
  • Content scheduling and cloud-based file organization

Screenly

Headquartered in London but having a global reach, Screenly offers tiered digital content management packages for businesses and organizations of varying sizes with different levels of need. Screenly OSE is the open-source version of its digital signage software that is free to use but does require familiarity with Linux to set up and maintain presentations properly.

Screenly OSE also limits users to a single screen, which is fine for an independent shop operator or a small office but not suitable for a larger client. However, Screenly OSE users can still expect premium features, including:

  • An intuitive interface for managing content
  • Ability to display images, video, and web pages
  • High-definition resolution (1080p)

Screenly's paid version offers enhanced features, including cloud storage for content and multi-screen casting. Prospective clients are invited to take advantage of a free trial period (14 days) to put the software through its paces.

It should be noted that this service does require the one-time purchase of Screenly hardware in the form of a small player (roughly the size of a smartphone) that must be connected to each display in a client's digital signage network.

TelemetryTV

Image via TelemetryTV

TelemetryTV is a cloud-based digital signage software suite that offers full, remote access to digital content networks to its growing base of users. With a stated mission of increasing the accessibility of content management systems to the public at large, the developer behind this software has created a user-friendly platform that has comparable functionality to more costly options from the competition.

Canada-based TelemetryTV's digital signage software packages are available on paid and free platforms. The paid software versions offer split-screen capabilities and other features like device overrides. However, the free version of TelemetryTV includes a robust assortment of features, most of which are identical to those in the paid versions. These include:

  • Over 70 fully integrated apps designed to streamline processes and automations
  • Images and files can be stored in cloud-based storage (videos are excluded from the free version)
  • A built-in editor (Canva) enables users to edit presentations from within the software's dashboard
  • Google Drive integration allows direct and seamless access to files and documents through TelemetryTV

Viewneo

German-based developer Adversign Media's cloud-based Viewneo digital signage software is a self-described modular system that is scalable to a particular operation's requirements and expandable through plugins and extensions to grow with the client's digital network.

From just about any web browser, the Viewneo content management system enables the user to oversee all aspects of digital signage: 

  • Creating presentations 
  • Gathering data for analytical purposes
  • Monitoring screens 
  • The casting of media to networked displays 

Viewneo is a paid software service (Professional and Enterprise levels) with a 30-day free trial that gives would-be users comprehensive access to Viewneo's functions. The basic Professional level includes the following features and benefits:

  • Virtually all image and video formats supported
  • Full integration of social media feeds and websites
  • More than 200 professional presentation templates to choose from
  • Comprehensive calendar and scheduling functions

XhibitSignage

Virginia-based Mvix's XhibitSignage digital content management software is a popular choice among private and government enterprises for its powerful features and simple operation. Over 16,000 clients worldwide use this software for their digital content and over 59,000 systems in the XhibitSignage network.

XhibitSignage is available as a free included software with the purchase of Xhibit media players or as a paid licensed software for use with third-party hardware from Android, ChromeCast, BrightSign, and other manufacturers.

XhibitSignage is a cloud-based platform accessible through any web-enabled device and is regularly updated so that its features not only remain current but cutting-edge. This software emphasizes ease-of-use, enabling businesses and organizations to create professional-caliber presentations while streamlining the deployment of content and management of screens.

The features and benefits of XhibitSignage's platform include:

  • Industry-specific apps and integrations, such as showtimes for movie theaters, dockets for courthouses, and flight information for airports
  • Major third-party software integrations, including Salesforce, Quickbooks, HubSpot, and many more
  • Easily installed auto-updating features including social media feeds, live weather, sports scores, and financial news
  • Screen-specific analytics and real-time status reports

Xibo

Xibo is an open-source, cloud-based digital signage platform from a developer based in the United Kingdom. With its user-friendly, highly intuitive interface, Xibo has developed a loyal following around the world with over 55,000 deployed displays and 3,000 monthly software downloads.

The primary content management system of Xibo is a paid subscription service. Still, interested operators can take advantage of a free trial to take the software out for a test drive.

Xibo digital signage software features include:

  • Platform-specific software versions, for example, Xibo for Windows, Xibo for Linux, Xibo for Android, and more
  • Extensive design capabilities utilizing easy-to-use widgets
  • In-depth monitoring of every display in a digital network with real-time diagnostic information
  • Built-in calendar function that permits detailed scheduling of presentation events

Yodeck

San Francisco-based Yodeck's digital signage software has an impressive roster of clients that includes Fortune 500 companies and big-name technology firms. But its highly intuitive design tools are perfectly suited for small business operators who are looking to monetize their digital content. In fact, for clients running digital content on a single screen, the Yodeck content management platform is free.

Yodeck touts its digital network's security as worthy enough for even the largest enterprises to take comfort in, while its team of remote technicians stands ready to resolve technical issues that may arise. Other key benefits and features include:

  • A wide assortment of polished templates to choose from, each completely and easily customizable 
  • Drag-and-drop tools and a multitude of widgets are all that is needed to incorporate real-time weather and financial information, along with news and sports scores
  • The Yodeck platform supports many image, video, and audio formats, along with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF files

Why Digital Signage is a Vital Business Strategy

The power of advertising is beyond dispute as it can make or break companies' fortunes while influencing consumer preferences and buying habits. It is how billboards came to be and why they have evolved into electronic displays with content refreshing every 30 seconds. 

It is also why more and more restaurants display their everchanging menus on TV monitors above the cash registers and why walls of LED displays are replacing bulky, monochrome monitors in airports and other mass transportation hubs.

From the advertiser's point of view, the decision as to how to allocate marketing budgets boils down to return on investment, and the biggest part of that equation is the cost per impression. A look at the numbers demonstrates just how cost-effective digital signage can be, despite the substantial initial outlay of capital:

  • Whereas 1,000 impressions in a newspaper would cost over $7.00 for an average-sized ad and $5.00 for a radio ad spot, the correlating cost on a digital signage platform would be a mere $.15 for the same number of exposures
  • Whereas billboards and other printed OOH advertising are static, digital signage can display content that not only changes and updates as needed but can also be adaptable to evolving circumstances through conditional scheduling and programming

When it comes to correlating digital signage expenditures to sales conversions, the resulting data is clear and convincing. For instance, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses stand to benefit immensely from digital signage, with up to 150% increases in business being reported. As far as recouping initial costs of implementing digital signage, as low as three months' ROI has been noted.

Other impressive findings include:

  • Retail operations with digital signage encourage shoppers to spend 30% more time browsing while providing digitally displayed infotainment near cash registers decreased perceived waiting time by 35%
  • Perhaps most telling of all in a retail setting, brands advertised on digital signage near point-of-sale areas experienced a 30% increase in sales volume

Conclusion

For any enterprise, small or large, private or public, incorporating digital signage into daily operations is a potential game-changer. In today's world, digital content is far more than simply displaying information electronically. It is a transformative way to inform in a targeted and persuasive manner and a highly adaptable channel through which to interact with a captive audience.