When Free is Not Free: Data for Your Ticker

A ticker display has caught your eye on multiple occasions and perhaps in multiple venues, so you are considering one. Welcome to the club. Suffice to say there are a lot of potential benefits. Besides being attention-grabbing (After all you saw it!) they can look pretty cool from a design perspective. LED tickers come with a lot of benefits including the following:

  • Inform, attract, and educate your audience with targeted and personalized messages
  • Promote your business to visitors, clients, and prospects
  • Save space while still being visible from a distance
  • Reduce marketing costs associated with static signs, posters, white boards, etc.
  • Designed to maximize your visibility as a business
  • An LED board makes your information truly live and eye-catching
  • LED signs can be programmed to be continuously moving, which attracts more eyeballs
  • Displays can be made flexible and fit practically any shape

When most people think of an LED Ticker, they picture scrolling Wall Street stock quotes or sports scores and odds scrolling by at a casino or sports book. While these are very popular applications, architects and designers are coming up with unique and innovative ways to incorporate LED Tickers into artistic, but also informative displays. With easy to use browser-based software, you can input custom messages showcasing a new product, or welcome an important visitor all from your smartphone. You can also stream your business’ Twitter feed, which is a fun way to promote your brand and can make your LED Ticker interactive with employees and guests. An LED Ticker is a tremendous compliment to any business’ digital signage marketing strategy. Not only is it unique, but the brightness, colors, and movement will attract a visitor’s eye. It can be so much more than stock or sports information.

While keeping your minds open to the variety of information that can be displayed, you inevitably must decide exactly what to play on your LED ticker display. This begs the question of where does all of that data come from that you see scrolling on LED ticker displays? Some will claim that this is no problem. Just download data from the internet (i.e. Google or Yahoo). Don’t go there. Apply the old admonition from parents to their children when crossing the road; stop, look, and listen.

Do not allow yourself to fall victim to that assumption even on sites that claim content is free. If you find a “free” source, make sure you read the fine print. These services are for people viewing the information on their personal computer, but the host site is still paying for the licensing fees and these usually prevent you from public or commercial use (like on a ticker). They have significant usage restrictions for use on public displays. Some news feed aggregators will include a clause in their terms of usage that forbids embedding their feed in a scrolling text banner of any kind. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the usage conditions; when in doubt, contact the feed provider directly, and explain the intended usage before publishing it on your ticker display. Breaking the terms may seem harmless, but it will come back to haunt you. If you willfully use the content against the terms, you will end up paying a fortune in legal fees.

On the legal use side of the equation (where you really want to be), find a ticker provider (like Rise Display) that has structured agreements with the data providers and exchanges.

Research shows that the use of logos reinforces the message and the information is retained longer. In addition to licensed data, Rise Display has exclusive rights from NASDAQ for Patents 7,082,398 and 7,778,842 pertaining to the use of company logos in place of text abbreviations.

One of the final decisions to make about data is whether it needs to be received and displayed in real time or can it be delayed? For most corporate atriums, retail branches, university trading labs, hotel lobby or any other non-professional trading environment, the most economical solution is delayed information. If you are a trading floor or require real time data, you need to be familiar with the fees and information that affect that decision.

If this is a consideration for your application understand that using real-time data can be expensive. Make sure you understand the cost, and more importantly, the licensing rights; failing to understand this, can be a very costly mistake. Most data providers, in addition to the normal terminal fees (several hundred dollars per month), have a public display fee (an additional several hundred dollars per month).  Additionally individual exchanges, which have different rules and fees; as an example, the CME Group (NYMEX, COMEX, CBOT, CME, DJ INDEXES, and more) charges $500 per exchange, per display, per month for displaying real-time data.

It’s important to remember that even though you are paying for real-time data, there is still a very minimal delay. This is because a ticker has a buffer that it maintains to keep a steady, smooth scroll; if, for example, you have a 100-foot ticker it could take a minute for the data to scroll from one end to the other.

If you want to consider a real-time source there are many options, but these are among the preferred choices for businesses and schools:

  • Bloomberg – one of the most recognizable brand names in the industry and used by over 300,000 traders worldwide.
  • Refinitiv – over 100 years of experience and operating in more than 100 countries, Refinitiv (formerly Reuters) has a wide range of platforms for trading floors.
  • Capital IQ – a single source for financial data, analytics, and research.
  • FactSet – insightful analytics and unique content to help traders make decisions faster.

The points to keep front of mind as you decide on data or content for your LED ticker display are two-fold. The first is the creation or selection of content that meets the objective of your signage. Content is intended to do a job and not simply be passive. The second point to keep in mind is the source and legal licensing of the content or data. Keeping both points in mind will ensure the results are what is expected and keep everyone out of avoidable trouble.


this article contributed by Alan Brawn