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Best Practices: Writing a Ticker Specification for an RFP

Bid Specs

Your company, institution, or school has decided that an LED ticker display is in order. This assumes that at a minimum, a cursory examination of your project requirements has taken place. The new task at hand falls under the umbrella of discovery and due diligence. You will need to venture into the marketplace, find a vendor, contract with them, and make that investment. A note of caution, in the case of an LED ticker display, it is not as simple as buying an off the shelf product. There are project variables to consider as you seek out a product and a vendor to work with. The more information that you can supply to potential vendors, the more likely you are to get what you want and at a fair price.

In most institutions a Request for Proposal (RFP), is the preferred (and in many cases mandated) way for companies to do business with outside suppliers. The document is created internally and sent to potential suppliers. The process should be tightly structured with information specific to a product or a project including a list of revealing questions designed to level the playing field for respondents that want to work with an organization. The objective is for a company to be able to make an informed decision based on the information supplied in the response to the RFP.

Depending upon your company or institution, the RFP format will vary. For those who do not have their own RFP process and template, we have provided a detailed example of one in a separate document. At the core of every RFP is the Scope of Work (SoW). This is the narrative description of a project’s work requirement. It defines project-specific activities, deliverables and timelines for a vendor providing products and services to their potential client. In other words, it is your story, expectations, deliverables, and timelines. One key to success is to focus on full disclosure and clarity in the SoW as it will be the guide to all that follows.

As noted earlier, the more information you can supply to potential vendors, the better the end result. For an LED stock ticker or sports ticker display project, the following are the top 10 questions to ask yourself when writing a ticker specification. If you cannot answer these questions on your own it may be a good idea to work with a qualified company that can help you upfront with the design and procurement.

  1. Start by describing the environment where the LED ticker will be located and how the ticker will be used. For example, will it be in a classroom, in a public space, in a secure trading area.
  2. Define the configuration. No problem if your display is straight, but if you are doing something unique (like curving the unit) you need to provide specifics on the radius to provide an accurate price. What you don’t need is a rigid box when you really need a flexible cabinet.
  3. Be clear on physical dimensions of the ticker both height and width. Clarify if the dimensions you are providing are the available space to fit within, or if you are defining the actual size of the ticker itself.
  4. Define the resolution in pixels. This will ensure you get the right matrix for creating content and showing logos or graphics. If you want to show logos use at least 32 pixels in height.
  5. Specify the pixel pitch or spacing between each LED. The most common is 0.16 inches (4mm) and it is important to clarify this along with the dimensions. Some lower cost products will reduce cost by spacing the pixels out further, so you get the same cabinet height but less resolution.
  6. Clearly define the colors you expect. Single color tickers which won’t give you the impact you want in showing vibrant logos. How many people would notice a plain red ticker compared to something using the full color spectrum?
  7. Specify the brightness you need. If it is an indoor environment with no large windows or ambient light 1,000 NITS should be sufficient. If you are placing your Ticker in an atrium with ambient light call out at least 3,000 NITS.
  8. Describe your LED ticker objectives and software requirements. Define the 3 or 4 key things you need it to accomplish. For example, “Show student managed fund with company logos.”
  9. Outline your data needs. This isn’t important if you buy a simple LED message center with basic messaging software, but if your goal is to show live stock prices make sure you give examples of the markets you want to view to ensure the provider has access to legally supply that information.
  10. Ask questions about the manufacturer. Make sure they are reputable and can share with you a client list of active installations using LED Tickers (not just displays in general).

The following lists some sample ticker specifications that should be included in the RFP. Once again, the specificity of requirements results in getting what you want and speeds up the procurement process. This also gives you the ability to compare quotes in an “apples to apples” manner.

We have listed the items in bold and underlined as placeholders to be updated by your specific requirements.

Ticker Hardware

  • Cabinet Size:
    • Height = 9 inches 
    • Width = 296 inches
    • Depth = 1.9 inches
  • LED Matrix – 64 x 1872 pixels
  • Pixel Pitch – .16 inch (4mm)
  • Maximum Brightness – 1,500+ nits
  • Color – 65,000 color shades
  • Cabinet / Mounting Style – Straight, flat wall mount
  • Safety Requirements
    • Audio/Video, Information and Communication Technology Equipment – Part 1: Safety Requirements [UL 62368-1:2019 Ed.3]
    • Audio/Video, Information and Communication Technology Equipment – Part 1: Safety Requirements [CSA C22.2#62368-1:2019 Ed.3]
  • Brightness: 8 levels of brightness configurable on site via the App or on the display.
  • A 5 year on-site warranty

Ticker Control

We are looking for both the software and hardware to be provided together to ensure a tightly integrated solution designed to work together. We require an App based solution allowing for control from Apple or Android based devices.  From the App we require display control consisting of:

  • Control of the scroll speed.
  • Control of the brightness.
  • Power save feature to configure when the ticker comes on and goes off automatically.
  • The ability to add unlimited users to control and contribute messages.
  • Visibility to see if a ticker is online/offline from the App and if offline view the last time it was properly connected, along with the Mac address and IP address of the device.
  • Scheduling to define what content shows by date and/or time.

Ticker Content

We expect to insert our own announcements and messages where we can select the color, font, and size of the content we inject.  In addition to text based messages we also require the ability to upload simple graphics and logos.

We require the following predefined lists of popular financial instruments.  The financial data must be licensed and include logos:

  • Nasdaq 100 Stocks
  • S&P 100 Stocks
  • Dow 30 Stocks
  • Top 50 Widely held stocks
  • Crypto Currencies (Bitcoin cash, Binance, Bitcoin, Doge coin, Etherium, Litecoin, XRP, Zcash)
  • Metals (Gold, Silver, Copper, Platinum, Palladium) – end of day closing price
  • Energy (Oil, Brent, Nat Gas, RBOB Gas) – end of day closing price
  • Agriculture (Wheat, Soybeans, Corn, Sugar, Coffee, Cotton, Cocoa) – end of day closing price
  • Livestock (Live Cattle, Lean Hogs, Feeder Cattle) – end of day closing price
  • Market Indicators (Nasdaq 100, S&P100, S&P500, VIX, TSX)
  • Top holdings for each Sector (Consumer Staples, Consumer Discretionary, Financial, Energy, Industrial, Materials, Communications, Utilities, and Healthcare)
  • Headline news from RSS sources.

In addition to financial data we require access to sports information that we can schedule to display from time to time.  The sports data must be licensed and include team logos:

  • NFL
  • NBA
  • NHL
  • MLB
  • MLS
  • NCAA Basketball (all division 1 or Top 25)
  • NCAA Football (all division 1 or Top 25)
  • Headline news from RSS sources

Ticker Provider

We require a ticker provider with at least the following qualifications:

  • 10 years of experience providing LED tickers.
  • 50 active ticker customers in North America.
  • 10 employees.
  • A nationwide network of trained installation and service technicians.
  • A 5-year on-site warranty

By selecting and procuring an LED ticker display you don’t want to go back and forth figuring out how much things cost; you want to get a price as quickly and easily as possible. Just keep in mind that there are no shortcuts worth taking. Quality LED tickers are not an off the shelf solution. Doing your homework upfront, writing a proper scope of work, and supporting that with the LED ticker specifications that you require will help ensure a positive outcome. The best advice is to work with a company with a proven track record that can be your trusted advisor throughout the entire design and procurement process. You will be glad you did, and the results will speak and pay for themselves.

If you would like help, just contact us and we can guide you through drafting your RFP.

If you want to draft your own RFP download the outline in MS Word.