Electronic signs may also be referred to as digital signs, digital billboards, electronic message centres, electronic message displays, video displays and electronic or digital advertising displays. Electronic signs are available in a large variety of sizes and are usually created using LEDs . They can be used to advertise products, services and pricing yet they are also very effective as wayfinding signs. Use them to educate, entertain, inform and even as a source of revenue.

Versatility of Electronic Signs

One of the greatest benefits to electronic signs is they can be programmed to deliver very specific information that is targeted to specific audiences at precise times of the day on any day of the year. This dynamic element is a very distinct advantage over static signs which deliver the same message or information 365 days a year.

Other Attributes of Electronic Signs

  • Very visible
  • Indoor and outdoor usage
  • The electronic signs content can be easily changed and updated.
  • The owners of electronic signs can actually secure additional profits by offering ad space/time on their sign to other businesses.
  • Electronic signs are very effective at keeping viewers informed about special offerings, events, and product promotions.
  • Can be interactive, which is something that we will see much more of in the coming years.


Situations and Uses for Electronic Signs and Displays

The larger billboard style of electronic sign is common in and near major centres. Larger boards are most effective in areas where they are being viewed by automobile traffic. Viewing distance and traffic speed are major factors in establishing what resolution will work best. Large boards with lower resolution (34 mm) are good for viewing from a distance. Higher resolution boards (16 mm) are better for areas where traffic is closer and slower. Smaller boards are very effective at catching the attention of the local viewer. Video boards and graphic displays work best with higher resolutions.

Electronic signs, video displays and electronic message centres can be very effective in places where people queue up for service and/or scheduled appointments. The content can be informational, educational, promotional etc.

Here are some examples of how electronic signs and video displays can be useful in a wide variety of situations.

  • Hotel lobby or ski chalet – scrolling electronic signs advertising events or offering up-to-date weather reports
  • Medical care clinics – electronic signs offering seasonal health tips
  • Restaurants – keep customers engaged while they wait for their table
  • Shopping Centres large and small
  • Retailers large and small
  • Service Stations – gas price units
  • Dentist office – help patients relax and keep them entertained before and during dentistry procedures
  • Vehicle registration offices – electronic signs offering safe driving tips and traffic law reminders
  • Menu boards
  • Trade show displays
  • Realtor’s offices – interactive displays that allow people to choose housing criteria such as location, size, community etc.
  • Museums – interactive informational electronic video displays
  • Scoreboards
  • Wayfinding applications


The industries and organizations that can benefit from the use of electronic displays are many and varied. The previous applications are just a small sampling.  It is easy to see that electronic signs are a great option to consider when selecting the signage for your business, event, or organization.

National Sign Link is pleased that Daktronics, Inc. has agreed to partner with us.

Whether you need a simple messaging system or a state-of-the-art high resolution video system, we will be able to recommend a product, have it fabricated to your specifications and then have it shipped to your contractor for installation.  Ask us about turnkey services that include design, survey, permits, installation and after sales service including operator training.

Available products include:

  • Message Displays
  • Video Displays
  • Digital Billboards
  • Digital Street Furniture
  • Video Walls
  • Digit and Pricing Displays
  • Time and Temperature Displays
  • Scoreboards
  • Indoor LCD signage
  • Parking Space Availability Signs


Contact National Sign Link with your questions about electronic signs.

Electronic Displays Gallery


ASPECT RATIO:  The dimensions of a display screen’s image expressed as a ratio of the horizontal width to the vertical height.
4:3-an aspect ratio describing the proportional relationship between the width and the length of a screen.  In mathematical terms, a 4:3 ratio means that the screen is 33% wider than it is high.
16:9-a newer and better aspect ratio than the 4:3 and the international format of HDTV and non-HD digital television.  The format of this ratio (the screen being 78% wider than high) allows the display of larger and better quality images than the 4:3 ratio.
1080p-a high-definition video type, featuring 1080 progressive lines of resolution or in other words-1080 lines of vertical resolution, with 1920 pixels on each line.

BRAND:  A simple, cohesive identity or consumer impression of a product, service or organization.

BRANDING:  The action of gaining a favoured view on the part of consumers for a product, service, organization or experience. These actions include advertising, merchandising, demonstration, education, (consumers, sales staff, etc.) profile through media, events, co-branding and more.

BANNER ADVERTISING:  Promotional content formatted as a text crawl or graphic that displays horizontally at the bottom or top of a digital signage screen; can be content paid for by a sponsor or the signage operator’s own promotional content.

BRIGHTNESS:  The light output per square meter reported as NITS.

BROADBAND:  A technique for sending data, voice, and video traffic over long distances by transmitting high frequency signals over coax, UTP, and fibre optic cables, or wireless.

CATEGORY FIVE CABLES:  A twisted pair of cables for carrying signals.  This type of cable is used in structured cabling for computer networks such as Ethernet.  It is also used to carry other signals such as telephony and video.

CONTENT:  Media, clips, text, video and audio that is presented by display and audio devices by a digital signage system.

CONTRAST RATIO:  A measure of a video display’s luminosity specifying the difference between the blackest of blacks and the whitest of whites.

CONVERGENCE:  The integration of the three primary communications channels (data, voice, and video) into one using the same network appliances, one standard network infrastructure, and the same administration.  This high bandwidth, combined-transmission method is known as Internet Protocol, or IP.

sign digit diagramA digit is a numeric symbol with seven segment bars.  Each segment uses discrete LEDs to produce a value between 0-9.  Scoreboards, timing systems and price displays use digits to display information.




DIGITAL SIGN:  A singular reference to a screen that is running digital signage content and typically replaces static billboards and posters.

DIGITAL SIGNAGE:  A network of digital displays that is centrally managed and addressable for targeted information, entertainment, merchandising and advertising.  (Synonyms): Dynamic Signage, Digital Signs, Electronic Signage, Digital Media Advertising, Digital Signage Network, In-store TV Network, Captive Audience Network, Narrowcasting Network, Out-of-home Media Network, Digital Media Network, Advertising Network, etc.

DIGITAL BILLBOARDS & DISPLAYS:  Communicate advertising-only messages through screens equipped with LED (Light emitting diode) or LCD (Liquid crystal display) technology, often changing at predetermined times, or through motion recognition technology, to showcase multiple brands.

ENCLOSURE:  An external protective frame used to contain a digital display and in some cases, other peripheral devices such as media players.  They are used in outdoor environments such as transit centres and food service drive-throughs to provide weatherproofing, temperature control and physical protection from damage.

ETHERNET:  The equipment that connects to a router or a LAN (local area network) providing you with Internet access.  Businesses usually use LAN’s to connect to the Internet.

FLASH:  Refers to Adobe® software that is used to manipulate vector and raster graphics, often for the purpose of adding animation to Web pages and multimedia presentations.

FRAMES PER SECOND (fps):  The speed at which still images (frames) in a video or animation are played in succession by an imaging device; sometimes expressed as hertz (Hz).

FREQUENCY:  The average number of times a person is exposed to a message, program or network within a given period of time, often one or four weeks.

LAN-WAN:  A LAN or local area computer network spans a relatively small area.  Most LANs are confined to a single building or group of buildings.  However, one LAN can be connected to other LANs over any distance via telephone lines and radio waves.  A system of LANs connected in this way is called a wide-area network (WAN).

LCD:  Acronym for liquid crystal display, a thin, flat-panel display device containing liquid crystal solution between two transparent electrodes and two polarizing filters; when electrically charged, the crystal molecules align in one direction or another in front of a light source, forming a pixel-rich, composite image.

LED LightA light emitting diode (LED) is a tiny, electronic semiconductor that converts electric energy into visible light.  The chemical compound used within an LED determines its colour, brightness and power efficiency.  Unlike incandescent lamps, LEDs have no filaments that can burn out or fail.


Two Forms of LEDs

Manufacturers use several types of LEDs to construct digital displays.  The two most common are Through-Hole LEDs and Surface Mount Device (SMD) LEDs, also known as Surface Mount Technology (SMT).  Each type has its respective advantages that make them preferable for different applications


Surface Mount LEDSurface Mount Devices, or SMD for short, refers to the LED lead frame mounting method.  LEDs are mounted to the surface of the circuit board.  The SMD contains red, green and blue dye.





Through -Hole LEDThrough-hole LEDs are mounted with leads protruding through the circuit board and appear to stand taller.  Each LED is a single-colour dye of either red, green or blue.




LANDSCAPE ORIENTATION:  A screen rotated so the width of the display is greater than the height which many more viewers identify with the prevalent widescreen TVs.

LUMEN:  Abbreviated “lm,” a unit of measuring light wavelengths perceived by the human eye; in the AV industry, it’s used to describe the brightness of a projector’s image.

LED ModulesLED modules are made up of parts that form the building blocks of video displays, message centers and dynamic message signs.  Rows of modules line together to arrange the LEDs in different variations depending on their product, market and purpose.

PITCH:  The distance on centre between pixels.  One of the determining factors in character size and display size.

pixel DiagramPixels, short for picture elements, are points of light that illuminate to form letters, words, graphics, animations and video images.  A pixel can be made up of a single LED, multiple LEDs of the same colour or multiple LEDs of different colours.  They are the smallest elements of the electronics display system that can be individually controlled and turned off or on at various brightness levels.

PIXEL SIZE:  The dimension of the pixel height and width.  Measurement assists in establishing the live area of a display.


PLASMA SCREEN:  A thin, flat-screen display device that contains an inert mix of neon and xenon gases in cells beneath glass; when electrically charged, the gases turn into plasma that emits ultraviolet photons that, in turn, excite phosphors on the back of the cells, creating coloured light.

PORTRAIT ORIENTATION:  A screen rotated so that the height of the display is greater than the width; portrait orientation can often be more eye-catching than horizontal or landscape orientation.

RESOLUTION:  Refers to the clarity and detail of an image relating to the number of lines (horizontal and vertical) of pixels; measured in dots per inch (dpi), with the higher pixel density the better.

ROUTER:  A computer router is a hardware or software device that acts like a telephone exchange.  It recognizes the addresses of packets of data and routes them over a permanently connected network towards their destination.

STREAMING MEDIA:  Video or other media compressed and delivered to an audience on-demand or live without the need for a complete transfer of the original file.

STREAMING VIDEO:  Refers to a one-way video transmission over a data network.  It is widely used on the Web as well as private intranets to deliver video on demand or a video broadcast.  Unlike movie files (MPG, AVI, etc.) that are played after they are downloaded, streaming video is played within a few seconds of requesting it, and the data is not stored permanently in the computer.

WI-FI:  Wireless networks use radio waves, just like cell phones, televisions and radios.  The computer’s wireless adapter translates data into radio signals and transmits it with an antenna, and a wireless router receives the signal and decodes it.