Archive for February 2007

Mixer tomorrow night

February 28, 2007

A reminder that the monthly mixer kicked off by Artisan has round two tomorrow night in Toronto. The weather forecast is calling for lots of snow, freezing rain, or just rain, so we’ll see if the pilot for the company chopper wants to get me there or not. Hopefully, the warnings don’t turn into an actual mess and there’s a good crowd.

On the plus side, spring is on the way – the flowering trees are starting to bloom in Charlotte, NC, where I was yesterday.

Details on the mixer 


Industry event set for Montreal in late March

February 28, 2007

What is probably the first fully organized event focused on the digital signage industry in Quebec is now set for March 28th in Montreal.

The JADN.TV show is being staged in the tower of the Olympic Stadium, organized by Arsenal Media, a suburban Montreal content strategy and production company that is increasingly active in this space.

JADN translates to Journee de l’affichage dynamique numérique, if you were wondering. Google translates that as “Day of numerical dynamic posting”, but what it means is dynamic digital marketing.

I am going, and will do an overview of where the industry is at and going. I will not torture anyone with my French, though much of the day will be French as the first language. The price appears right, particularly when compared to what some of the events are dinging attendees. This one is $275, and for you foreigners, that’s in our colourful Canadian currency ;-]

Targeting students from a different angle

February 27, 2007

When you think about targeting students with a digital network on or near a campus, you probably think a lot more about common areas, busy walkways and party spots than you do about the campus bookstore.

So I did a little head shake when I read about an ad-driven network rolling out across the US that puts the emphasis on those shops.

“Combining wireless technology and ceiling audio with LCD or acrylic screens that span up to four stories,” the In-Store Marketing Institute reports, “the Bookstore Network has been installed in 200 bookstores owned by Follet Corp. at public and private universities nationwide.

EZ Show launched its partnership with Follet in June 2006. It began piloting the technology at another bookstore group in early 2007. The company hopes to eventually expand to 1,000 total stores, including 700 Follet-owned locations.

Mixing national branding with university-level promotion, the network displays ads alongside a scrolling news feed and entertainment programming. Stores carry up to four screens, which loop a reel of five to 10 minutes. The network includes both LCD monitors and acrylic screens that use DLP technology.

According to EZ Show president Bill Everett, the network’s primary purpose is to promote products on the shelves, a selection that ranges from school supplies to razor blades to insurance. “College bookstores are not the ‘little red schoolhouse’ anymore,” Everett says. “Stores carry more than 1,000 SKUs and the channel earns about $2 billion a year. The network supports product optimization. Instead of waiting for signage to arrive, you can change ads anytime.”

Advertisers have included Apple inc., Coca-Cola, Verizon and Virgin Wireless, as well as host universities, although Everett admits that attracting packaged goods companies to the network has been a challenge.”

If Follett is more than just a revenue share partner, and actually works with its vendors to try to drive sales of those SKUs, this could be interesting. The response from the brands, so far, must be a little discouraging.

And the winners were??? (UPDATED TIMES 2)

February 26, 2007

Ok, so I know there was a Strategy Institute digital signage meeting-thingie in Las Vegas last week, and I know a few people who went. I also know there was a reception for the Fourth Screen Awards, for excellence in the space.

But that’s it. Nothing on the site. Nothing on the Strategy Institute site. Nothing on blogs.

Did it happen? Who/what won? Good event? Not so good?

UPDATE: The Digital Signage Forum, which has tidied itself up a lot since I last saw it, has a brief, somewhat breathless round-up. It does allow you to see what Bill Gerba looks like from 50 feet away.

UPDATE: James Bickers of Digital Signage Today has kindly passed on the winners list.

Fourth Screen Awards 2007 Winners

Category: PSA/Other
Bronze Winner
Awarded to: DynaTek
Campaign Title: Get Converged!
Client: DynaTek Media Network

Bronze Winner
Awarded to: John Ryan Performance
Campaign Title: Citi Syndicates
Client: CitiBank

Category: Interactive
Bronze Winner
Awarded to: John Ryan Performance
Campaign Title: Health Savings Account
Client: US Bank

Silver Winner
Awarded to: Ecast
Campaign Title: Jeep Compass
Client: Jeep/Ecast Network

Awarded to: Polo Ralph Lauren
Campaign Title: Interactive Shopping Experience
Client: Polo Ralph Lauren

Category: Brand Advertising
Bronze Winner
Awarded to: Met|Hodder
Campaign Title: ABC Grey’s Anatomy “Seriously”
Client: ABC Entertainment / ABC In-Store Network at Meijer

Silver Winner
Awarded to: Captivate Network
Campaign Title: FedEx Total Shipping Solutions Campaign
Client: FedEx and FedExKinkos

Silver Winner
Awarded to: MediaPlace
Campaign Title: Champs Sports – Behind The Scenes – Nike AirMax
Client: Champs Sports / Champs Sports TV

Awarded to: Nike
Campaign Title: Hawk
Client: Nike Retail Network

Category: Promotional Advertising
Bronze Winner
Awarded to: DraftFCB
Campaign Title: Carphone Warehouse and O2 Stores
Client: Nokia In-Store

Bronze Winner
Awarded to: Met|Hodder
Campaign Title: Pillsbury / Hershey’s
Client: Pillsbury / Kroger Network

Silver Winner
Awarded to: Unolink
Campaign Title: Can You See This?
Client: Optica Caroni

Awarded to: The Famous Group
Campaign Title: Toyota Yaris Mobisodes
Client: Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles

GOLD WINNER ­ Best of the Best
Awarded to: Alchemy International (POP program by Wolfe Works (Toronto), using Digital View gear)
Campaign Title: Smirnoff Vodka / Casino Royale
Client: Diageo / Diageo In-Store Screens

SeeSaw Networks to unveil online ad-buying system

February 26, 2007

I met Peter Bowen last year at the digital retailing show in Chicago, when he was starting to build awareness for SeeSaw Networks – essentially a sales rep shop specializing in peddling time on screen media networks.

Industry people have been talking forever about rolling up as many networks as possible into one media sales offer, but there hasn’t been much sign of success. The networks are too divergent and, as usual, it takes a lot of money to get it right.

But SeeSaw is starting to get some traction, with six sizeable affiliate networks in its portfolio: Captive Media, Ecast, DVD Play, MJM Sports and Media, The University Network and Zilo. I’ve only ever heard of Captive Media, but a little rooting around revealed Zilo does in-dorm campus TV and MJM is a fantasy sports play in bars and clubs.

With some 700 sign networks just in the US, there’s a long way to go still. SeeSaw is unveiling an online media placement system this week in Las Vegas that should help draw in more networks, and if things work out, also draw in media planners. The attraction to network operators is that they can make available their unsold slots to this group, who will then try to fill them – presumably at a reduced rate.

AdWeek is reporting: “This week at the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ annual media conference in Las Vegas, SeeSaw will launch, an online platform through which advertisers can customize digital buys by demographic, geography or venue. “

“We give buyers one point of contact, one bill. It’s an easy way for agencies to wrap their arms around a space that’s becoming more complicated,” said SeeSaw CEO Peter Bowen. “Our network can deliver over 20 million gross impressions weekly, on par with some top-rated TV shows, at significantly less cost.”

You can click around a Flash demo on the SeeSaw site to see how it all works. It looks like pretty basic stuff and leaves a lot of questions about how this thing will actually work with other networks. My guess is the actual scheduling is manual, with SeeSaw generating an insertion order for its affiliates to execute.

That said, ANYTHING that reduces the noise for media planners and creates some order where there is little, will be welcomed by the ad industry.

This is the first system of its kind, to my knowledge, but I know at least one startup company that’s about to ramp up its own solution. More on them when they are ready to go talk. Suffice to say, similar, but in some respects very different.

 NOTE: Read the comments for SeeSaw founder Jeff Dickey’s point of view, and his clarification of what they’re all about.

Times Square’s LED boards are spectacular

February 24, 2007


It had been a few years since I was in New York, and therefore a few years since I’ve seen Times Square and the many LED billboards that are slapped on the sides of most buildings. We wandered through there on the way to Rudy’s Bar and Grill (great place) and spent a few minutes taking it all in.

I’ve been in Las Vegas a lot recently and therfore seen a LOT of LED, but not even the Wynn’s “eraser” board compares to some of the installations here.

The quality of the displayed images — owing I assume to greatly upping the number of LEDs — makes for a spectacular light show.

The perils of screens in taxis

February 21, 2007

I have been approached a few times recently by start-ups looking at putting media screens in taxis and limos. It’s an interesting notion, given the riders are captive for extended periods.

But they’re also being jostled around by potholes and usually aggressive drivers. The idea that passengers will sit transfixed on the screens for many minutes is a little suspect.

This is a medium that’s been tried a few times and I’m not sure how often it has worked out. A recent piece by AKA’s Barnaby Page offers a cautionary tale for anyone thinking about this space:

Directors of Edinburgh-based Cabtivate petitioned for liquidation on 22 January, with liquidators – insolvency specialists who oversee the dispersal of a defunct company’s assets – warning that creditors might receive little or nothing.”

“… Cabtivate operated on an advertiser-funded, out-of-home-TV model. It asked drivers to pay £3500 ($6850) plus VAT for its screen service to be installed in their cabs, but arranged four-year finance for that sum and promised to pay the drivers a monthly fee starting at £192 ($375) per month and later rising. This fee, effectively the drivers’ cut of Cabtivate’s ad revenues, would cover the cost of paying for the equipment and leave the cabbies some profit.

Cabtivate, which also operated a non-digital vehicle-side advertising service, is believed to have signed up more than 100 cabs in its home Edinburgh and nearby Glasgow as well as the English cities of Bristol and Manchester. It was planning to move into the enormous London market and was still reportedly signing up drivers in late November.

However, signs of trouble surfaced when finance director Iain Mackenzie resigned on 4 December, followed by sales and marketing director Sara Maclean on 7 January. Two weeks later, co-founders Mark Greenhalgh and Jimmy Neilson closed the doors.

Since then, liquidation firm Begbies Traynor has been quoted as saying that the company owed at least “several hundred thousand pounds” and that “the prospects don’t look very good at all” for creditors, because Cabtivate’s assets were mostly intangible – the drivers, or finance companies, owned the screens.”

FOLLOWUP – A colleague flagged this piece in The Register, which provides detail on a 200-taxi rollout in Buenos Aires, using seven-inch screens embedded in the headrests.