Archive for November 2006

Digital sign play hits the stock market

November 29, 2006

I am a bit of a doofus when it comes to the stock market, so all I can relay here is that Wireless Ronin did indeed do an IPO and is now trading on the market in the US.

Like many/most people I had my doubts it would ever happen, but there has been a flurry of activity lately reading my previous posts about these guys. Hmmm, I thought.

It started trading in the last few days and when I looked today it was at $6.19, having started trading at $3.50. What’s that phrase from Alan Greenspan??? Oh yeah … irrational exuberance.

The guys who hang out trading rumors in discussion forums see this as a high flyer. This kind of activity will certainly help other guys out there who are trying to cobble together working capital.


Going after the footy crowd

November 27, 2006

One of the networks I noticed in that UK digital ad network directory was a firm called Match Day Media, which has hundreds of screens installed in the concourses and other public areas of top tier football stadia across England and Scotland.

These places get a big crowd once and sometimes twice a week for matches, and screens mounted around the facilities provide replays and endless live data for the fans before, during and after the games. Match Day makes its money through advertising in the video window, and there are also graphic ad banners available on the screens.

London-based Match Day has 14 facilities installed, including ManU’s Old Trafford, which has 190 (count’em) plasma screens. They claim a monthly audience of 1.5 million fans.

It would be easy to be skeptical about this network’s fortunes because I have seen screens in other sports and public venues and few people taking notice. And the absence of eyeballs for all but a few hours a week is cause for a little worry.

But these guys counter that very effectively on their web site with piles of stats and a motion-media demo that shows throngs of club supporters visually locked on the screens, answering their own question: “Is anyonewatching?”

Now that may be because of all the other stuff on the screens, like game scores, statistics and replay footage, but you have to think with all that “sticky” content the ads are getting noticed, too. Some major brands appear to have bought in.

UK screen directory released

November 27, 2006

The Screen Association in the UK, a trade association for the industry over there, has released a digital signage ad-networks directory that covers most or all of the UK’s screen-media advertising networks.

It’s an intriguing look at what’s happening in that region, which is somewhat more matured than North America. Along with networks you’ve heard and read about are such things as Baby TV, which targets soon-to-be moms in clinic waiting rooms, and Transvision, which has large screens in the waiting areas of some 16 rail terminals.

There are also several networks installed in drinking establishments – some with hundreds of sites and, they say, 1,000s of screens. The idea of marketing to mobs of people who’ve had a few pints has always escaped me, but there must be something to it.

To read the whole thing, you have to order a PDF copy from The Screen, for 50 pounds sterling.

Another gas pump TV player bubbles up

November 22, 2006

Saw a piece on the news wires about another entrant into the gas pump TV thing, this one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

PetroTV’s product looks an awful lot like what VST Media has been doing in Canada for about three years now, though they have the distinct advantage of operating in warm weather. VST had some major, major teething pains dealing with electronics during harsh Canuck winters.

One interesting wrinkle these guys pitch is that the content can change ad content depending on the grade of fuel being pumped – ie regular unleaded guys see Ford ads, while the premium guys see Lincoln spots.

I wonder if that’s really happening, but it’s nonetheless a clever bit of targeting.

A power-filled message

November 22, 2006

I noticed this recently sloooooowly driving away from downtown Toronto along that city’s billboard row – a big digital billboard with a simple set of numbers on the screen.

The Media in Canada newsletter today reminded me about it, and provided a little detail on what is a simple but compelling use of BIG digital signage. Ontario Power Generation, which is responsible for keeping the lights on in that province, bought time on the board to hammer home the point that we’re power-sucking piglets.

The sign simply gives a read out of how many megawatts the province is generating to run our factories and charge our cellphones. There is a certain irony in that the board itself probably sucks a lot of juice, but never mind.

Schemed up by a clever ad agency, the board’s tally is updated automatically every 10 minutes.

Decent plasmas dip below $1K USD

November 20, 2006

It would be a hoot to dig through some old proposals from 2000-2001 to see what I was budgeting for big-ass 42 inch plasma screens back then. I’m thinking $8-$10K, but it actually have been more like $15K. And the damned things had pretty marginal resolutions, and a serious penchant for burn-in.

Now comes word from Display Daily that the stampeding American shoppers at Costco and Wal-Mart this Black Friday will be bowling each other over in their efforts to heave into their carts a 42 inch plasma selling for $999 US and $988 US respectively.

Far from junk, these Thai-made screens will have a 10,000:1 contrast ratio and 1,200 nits brightness, as well as support for 720P HD, though only at 1024 by 768. Not really true HD, but not bad.

The top-tier panel makers still charge twice or more for many of their products, and in most digital signage apps you really want to be using top-tier and the commercial versions at that. But there are a lot of entrepreneurs and other potential clients who will look at the $1,000-barrier being jumped and start thinking this digital signage thing now has a realizable ROI. $1,000 works a hell of a lot better in a spreadsheet than $10,000.

Artisan, Wise to light up Rabba grocers

November 16, 2006


The guys at Toronto’s Artisan Live continue to wade more deeply into the digital signage game.

Known for a long time as a retail merchandising firm, Artisan brought on Raji Kalra about a year ago and has been increasingly busy since then, even setting up a mobile/digital affiliate marketing program. Now they’ve announced a partnership that will see networked screens going into Rabba groceries across the greater Toronto area.  Rabba, for non-GTA types, has smaller, upscale grocery stores around the city.

The screens will go up in 28 stores and will include synchronized audio messages piped through the internal audio system.

The effort is being done with Wise Broadcasting, which does traffic reporting for several Toronto radio stations but for the past couple of years has also been involved in digital signage, primarily through pushing content to the VST Media screens at Esso gas stations.

More detail on what’s dubbed Rabba Media is here.