Google Q&A: How The Tech Giant Plugs Into Digital Signage


I had quick chat with Vidya Nagarajan of Google in the Intel booth at DSE. She was there answering questions about the Chrome platform and the potential use cases for digital signage. I followed up with a series of questions, via Google’s communications folks, and Vidya kindly got back to me with answers.

Here’s what the Product Manager in the Chrome for Business group has to say about the much-discussed entry of Google into the digital signage space.

Q: Can I get a breakdown of the kit of parts for applying Chromebox to digital signage, and the costs?My understanding is the device, admin console and cloud storage, but I am not sure if the admin console is $150 per unit one-time or annual, and whether the $5 cloud storage is one-time or annual. Is there anything else? And are there volume breaks, ie is the admin console $150 per at 1,000 units? 

A: To setup for digital signage you would need:

  1. A Chrome device, such as a Chromebox, available from ASUS for as little as $179
  2. Access to the Chromebook management console – $150 per unit, one-time

Editor note: Since I posed these questions Google has announced cloud storage on Google Drive has been reduced to $1.99/month 

vidyaQ: Is Google’s admin console intended as a stand-alone digital signage content management system or more as a device management layer?

A: The administrative console is useful for managing Chrome devices, users and group policies, centrally from the web. With the Chrome admin console, you can push out content for digital signage to a fleet of devices. The content comes in the form of a Chrome kiosk app that is built and centrally deployed.

Q: Could a digital signage app loaded on your Chrome store run without the admin console, and use its own device management and other tools?

A: Listing an app in the Chrome Web Store can be done independent of using the Chrome management console, and if you want to run one app on a per device basis, you could do this manually. But in order to deploy a digital signage app centrally to a device or multiple devices, and take advantage of fine grain settings such as rebooting devices remotely, you will need the management console.

Q: Is there a dedicated micro-site or other information on Chromebox for digital signage? All I have is the one-sheet from the trade show.

A: The one sheet is the best source of information about the digital signage use case for Chrome devices. In that document, we also link to a help center article that explains how to create a kiosk app.

Q: Are there APIs and other tools available for developers, and if so, what are they for?

A:  Yes. You can follow the Chrome developer website to get up-to-date information about how these APIs can be used to build Chrome packaged kiosk apps. These apps are used to power content for displays.

Q: When will Chromeboxes ship and how can the marketplace but them, and in what countries?

A: Chromeboxes from Samsung have been shipping since 2011. The ASUS Chromebox is available for pre-order now and will be shipping this month. They are available on retailers such as in the U.S., with more countries around the world this year.


Q: Will there be ARM versions of Chromebox? 

A: We don’t comment on future products.

Q: What has been the response from the digital signage eco-system since this was announced a couple of weeks ago?

A: We’ve gotten some good feedback from the community that this use case for Chrome devices is interesting and viable, from security, simplicity, manageability and cost perspectives.

Q: How will other services by Google integrate, notably AdSense and DoubleClick video advertising?

A: We have no plans to show Google advertising through this platform and it’s not connected to our ad network. That said it’s an open platform that developers could make a simple app if they want to bring ads as their content.

Q: Does Google see digital signage as a new area of focus or another sector in which Google can provide enabling technology, and then largely get out of the way?

A: The Chromebox is a secure, manageable and affordable platform that could power many potential use cases. Based on feedback we have heard from others in the industry, digital signage is one such use case of interest for developers. We are happy to show developers the tools to use this platform for their applications.

Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes

Editor/Founder at Sixteen:Nine
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 12 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He's based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Dave Haynes


13-year-old blog & podcast about digital signage & related tech, written by consultant, analyst & BS filter Dave Haynes. DNA test - 90% Celt/10% Viking. 😏😜🍺
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6 thoughts on “Google Q&A: How The Tech Giant Plugs Into Digital Signage”

  1. “The content comes in the form of a chrome kiosk app”. In other words, every time you update your content loop you have to re-deploy a new app to the devices through the admin console?

    Am I missing something or is that a huge step backwards?

  2. Dave, in about the 2005 timeframe, Google filed a patent claiming a system and method for managing ads on digital signage networks (can’t remember if they called it digital signage or something similar). As I recall, it claimed a system for placing and delivering ads to place-based screens based upon consumer demographics, venue distributions and consumer traffic patterns within a given proximity of a screen. I kept that patent app on my desk for many years but never followed up on whether the patent issued or not.

    You might want to check on that the status of that patent. If it issued, I’d take great exception to their statement regarding the integration of ad-sense. Also, if it issued, this would have profound implications to those still trying to make a living placing ads on digital signs.

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