Thursday, August 26, 2010

Omnivex Wins in Sign Media Canada Competition for Second Consecutive Year

Omnivex Corporation, a Concord, Ontario-based provider of enterprise software for digital signage networks, announced that for a second consecutive year, one of their customer's installations has been announced as the winner of Sign Media Canada's National Sign Competition in the Digital Signage category. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment have been recognized with this prestigious award for their stunning videowall at the Air Canada Centre, which is powered by Omnivex Moxie software software.

Cruise Media Group Expands Digital Ad Network with Acquisition of Mommentum Health Media

Cruise Media Group, a place-based health media company headquartered in Toronto, has acquired full ownership of Mommentum Health Media, extending the reach of the country’s leading dedicated health and wellness digital screen network into major hospitals.

Cruise Media Group already had partial ownership of Mommentum, and full control in place, the 85 waiting room screens expands the total reach of what is marketed as the Mommentum Health Network (MHN). Adding the hospital’s audience counts raises the total annual viewership to an estimated 13 million health conscious Canadians. MHN covers 335 venues in Canada’s largest media markets.

“Bringing the companies under one umbrella just made sense,” says Ryan Cruise, President and CEO of Cruise Media Group. “This allows us to streamline our operations and better serve both our host hospitals and medical centres, and our advertising clients.”

Consolidation also helps clarify the offer, explains Cruise, by reducing media fragmentation and letting health and wellness brands and service providers use a single media buy to reach a huge cross-section of engaged consumers.

MHN’s puts its flat-panel video information systems free of charge into qualified medical clinics and hospital wait areas, providing the facilities with credible health and wellness programming – such as nutrition tips, disease awareness and prevention, and women’s health issues – that entertains, educates and engages patients and visitors. Venue operators also get tools that let them run location-specific messages, such as office hours and special clinic notices.

The MHN system offers the combined benefits of improving patient communications and education efforts, reducing perceived waiting times, and enhancing the overall patient experience.

MHN’s smart media distribution technology allows for granular targeting of advertising and promotion campaigns – from network-wide national programs to local and hyper-local ad clusters that enable health services companies, such as physiotherapists, to market only to patients visiting clinics in the same general geographic area.

Agreements and funding are in place to expand the HMN and almost double the monthly viewing audience to 15 million people. “We’ve spent the last few months upgrading existing sites and building critical mass in key markets,” explains Cruise. “We’re now planning a major push of new sites in those markets for Q4 and into next year.”

MHN is a founding member of the Canadian Health Media Network (CHMN), an umbrella media network that rolls up the media opportunity provided by hundreds of the busiest primary care offices and medical labs across Canada.

Monday, August 23, 2010

GDI to Distribute X2O's Xpresenter Xe Series of Digital Signage Systems in the United States

X2O Media, a full-service provider of software, network management, and content services for professional digital signage applications, today announced that the company has signed a distribution agreement with Graphics Distribution Inc. (GDI). Under the agreement, GDI will provide distribution and sales support functions for X2O’s Xpresenter™ Xe Series of stand-alone digital signage systems in the United States.

Headquartered in Milwaukee, GDI is a privately held distribution firm specializing in providing fast and efficient logistics support with quality sales and customer service. The company offers a world-class product line of graphics cards, video capture cards, streaming media encoders, video editing keyboards, digital signage equipment, and interactive whiteboards to the A/V, personal computer, education, and IT markets.

“We take pride in meeting the diverse needs of our customers, and with the increase in demand for advanced digital signage solutions, the Xpresenter Xe Series is a perfect addition to fill that gap in our product offering,” said Scott Whitcomb, GDI Director of Sales. “We’re excited to offer this unique solution to our customers, and are committed to bringing the Xpresenter Xe line to market and increasing the visibility of the brand to ultimately boost sales.”

“Over the last ten years, GDI has earned a reputation for offering quality products, coupled with fast service and support that is second to none. We couldn’t be more pleased to have the company distribute our Xpresenter Xe products,” said David Wilkins, X2O Media’s President and CEO. “Through this partnership, we will be able to further penetrate key markets in the U.S., while offering GDI’s customers three high-quality systems to meet their digital signage needs.”

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A&W Piloting Self-serve Kiosks

In an effort to reach the 25-40 yr-old urban-dweller segment, A&W Restaurants are launching new concept stores in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver that will feature self-serve ordering kiosks, along with meal options more in tune with urban diner tastes.

The first of the concept store will open in Vancouver this Friday and more will follow in the major markets in the following months.

Although this could change by launch time, one glaring issue with the touch screen kiosks is the non-existence of an attractor loop. Why advertise that its a "Express Self Order Station" when it should be obvious—almost painfully so—from the huge 3D lettering that spell out Self Order? Some animations promoting the new food options and their green initiatives would have been perfect.

Mammoth HD Footage Library adds 3D/Stereoscopic Footage

Mammoth HD, a provider of stock video in HD, RED and vertical formats, has added 3D/Stereoscopic footage to their library. Shot in HD and RED, delivery is available as Individual L/R Eye clips, 'Muxed" formats and Tif Sequences and feature national parks, wildlife, sports, lifestyle, scenics and other footage for for broadcast, film and special venue (digital signage) production.

Metro One announce new interactive tech, exchange tech for dividend

In dual news, Concord, Ontario-based Metro One Development Inc. announced a new service on their network and share its technical knowledge with Innovative Product Opportunities Inc., in exchange for 1,000,000 common shares of their company.

The new service allows advertisers to create ads utilizing a multi-user interactive experience. Its being tested at two airports in Canada and is proving to deliver on the value of the interactive media network by providing a fun and memorable experience for the user and providing valuable data for the ad customer. Metro One assert that their unique media also provides advertisers with clear ROI, by offering valuable statistical and priceless information regarding the effectiveness of user interaction with each ad.

As for the deal with Innovative Product Opportunities Inc., a spokesperson from Metro One stated that it was a great opportunity for both companies to further advance the product. The 1,000,000 shares will be distributed, pursuant to a trust held for the benefit of the shareholders of Metro One Development, Inc., after Innovative Product Opportunities registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is declared effective and its shares are quoted on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board.

Stuart Turk, CEO of Metro One stated, "Once their shares are quoted on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board, a dividend date will be set and the trust will distribute the shares prorated to each Metro One shareholder on the record date set for the distribution."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Capital Networks anticipates broadcasters will turn to digital signage to reach new audiences

This year, Capital Networks anticipates a significant growth of sales in the broadcast market due to new trends that include digital signage. The company is experiencing strong take up by broadcasters who are looking at new ways to communicate with people out of the home. Digital signage can help broadcasters reach new audiences in new public places. With the right system, a broadcaster will have a flexible, cost-effective – yet powerful – content management solution that delivers high quality presentations.
But broadcasters should beware of digital signage providers that cannot support a broadcaster's complex 'back office' needs - after all, the broadcaster's brand is at stake on every screen.

Broadcasters become content providers

Last year, Hubert Lacroix, the President of CBC – Canada's National Public Broadcaster – stated that the organisation's digital strategy heading forward should see it transform from a broadcaster to a content provider. This is a major shift. In Lacroix's words, CBC would become “the most important creator and distributor of Canadian content across all platforms, and to be deeply rooted in the regions.”
The development of digital services provides great opportunities as well as serious challenges for broadcasters. As audiences increasingly view content away from the television set, advertisers and broadcasters must adapt their strategies to reach out to consumers and ultimately generate new revenue streams.
CBC, like a number of other broadcasters, is working  to expand its brand in non-traditional ways. It is dedicated to delivering its news journalism to a wide audience and across a range of media, exploiting innovative new media to connect with people no matter where they are. At the same time though, players in this industry face tough challenges – increased competition, lower advertising revenues, investing in new distribution channels – so while they need to spread their brand and their content, they need to do so cost-effectively.

One key way that CBC is reaching new audiences across a number of regions, is through digital signage.

CBC – A case in point 

CBC has rolled-out its CBC News Express broadcast service to five major airports across Canada – including Toronto Pearson International Airport, the busiest in Canada – to ensure that critical news and weather reports are available to the thousands of people who pass through the country's airports each day. The service is powered by Capital Network’s  Audience digital signage solution, which enables CBC to present the latest video content and live data feeds for up-to-the minute local and national news, weather, business and sports updates. The Audience platform is highly scalable and so CBC will be able to deliver its CBC News Express service to more airports and more public spaces in the near future.

Content quality is critical for broadcasters

Flexibility and cost-efficiency have made software-based equipment increasingly attractive to broadcasters.  Yet they cannot compromise quality for cost because – as broadcasters -  they already have a reputation for delivering technologically advanced broadcasts across different media. It's important that they uphold this image wherever their broadcasts appear – be it on a home TV, a handheld device or a public plasma screen.
In order to achieve content quality, there are some core features that broadcast software must deliver. These are:
  • A flexible, sophisticated system that can handle everything from a simple hyper-local overlay to managing a large, diverse network displaying a wide variety of content. 
  • The option of producing an automated, multizone news package with content provided by external data feeds – enabling broadcasters to provide up-to-the-second updates. 
  • The ability to automatically display hyper-local content, different from the main station, without additional manual input 
  • The ability to support a variety of broadcast quality formats from standard to high definition. 

Broadcasters must be cautious of digital signage providers who specialise in just ‘front end signs’. Capital Networks started life as a supplier to the broadcast industry. We understand the market and the very specific needs of those who operate in it. We understand that the software must be smart and flexible – in particular when it comes to configuration and scheduling. If you are a news provider, that news must be up-to-the-minute from live feeds and it must have some local content. Broadcasters can't afford to take on teams of people to create or manage that content, so the software must have smart scheduling.

Flexibility in terms of configuration is also a key requirement for a broadcaster who may have different content requirements at different sites. To return to the airport example: at a large, international airport, the broadcaster will certainly want to break into live global news from satellites, along with live video feeds. Whereas, for a small commuter airport, the system may be more video-based, using captions, but it may also need more on local news and weather updates.

Our Audience solution is designed to support custom presentations and content at individual locations across a network . That way, a broadcaster can have signs in – say – 100 different sites across a region but ensure that each screen and its content is appropriate to that site. This ensures much more efficient and targeted operations.

Returns from new advertising opportunities – the growth of the DOOH sector

Let's not forget the significant commercial revenues that digital signs can provide for broadcasters.  DOOH (Digital Out Of Home) expenditures worldwide will grow 4.7% to $6.69 billion (£4.1 billion), according to the third annual PQ Media Global Digital Out-of-Home Media Forecast 2009-2014. Within that, the fastest growing DOOH segment is digital billboards, which the report predicts will grow by 13.2% in 2010.

DOOH brings a lot of advantages over traditional static formats such as poster billboards. On the cost side, digital networks fed remotely from a central server save much of the cost compared to the staff-intensive manual maintenance of traditional sites. On the revenue side, the added value of digital sites over traditional sites allow advertising sales house to attract more advertisers and trade at higher costs-per-thousand. Digital displays also allow for more creative and flexible advertising campaigns that can generate higher return on investment.

Broadcasters and media companies are especially efficient when getting involved with digital signage because they already have the infrastructure in place to successfully manage it. Our broadcast and media partners already have advertising customers and the sales, billing, scheduling and content creation staff that go along with that, so there’s much less risk than there would be to a company starting from scratch.

And it's not just broadcasters that want to broadcast

Looking forward into next year, and the coming years, we will expand our presence in this  market. It's certainly a growth market as the players take on IP-based distribution technologies beyond traditional broadcast -  including IPTV, Mobile TV and Digital Signage. Capital Networks already works with the BBC, CBC, CTV and Rogers Communications, as well as a number of Cable TV companies.

What we're now finding is that it's not just broadcast companies that want to use digital signs for broadcast media. Many other markets are taking on broadcast systems to communicate information across multiple sites. For example, this might be a military base that broadcasts to the military and civilian personnel on its bases. Their requirements are the same as those of large broadcasters: they want to show top level information – such as Pentagon TV – but they also want hyper-local information that's truly relevant  to a specific region, campus or even building.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Waterloo Airport Add Digital Displays to Increase Revenue and Inform Passengers

The Region of Waterloo International Airport has chosen ScreenScape, a community-based digital signage network to power digital displays located in the departure lounge and domestic arrivals area.

“It was ScreenScape’s ease-of-use that was the deciding factor in choosing a technology provider for the Airport,” said Chris Wood, Airport General Manager. “It’s a flexible sales and marketing tool which we plan to use to generate additional advertising revenue, inform passengers in the terminal and promote local events taking place in Waterloo Region. ScreenScape’s solution was easy to implement and is simple to use, giving us the ability to control and change content quickly.”

The Region of Waterloo International Airport is the latest in string of civic institutions in the Southern Ontario that also includes the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Tourism Burlington among others to join the community-based digital signage network.

The Airport is also beginning to become active in the ScreenScape Community. “We like the idea of engaging with local venues to promote events and attractions in the area. We are pleased to provide other members of the ScreenScape Community an opportunity to speak to the traveling public that is going through our facility on a daily basis.” said Wood.

Kevin Dwyer, ScreenScape President and CEO, welcomed the Airport to the ScreenScape Community. “It is wonderful to see institutions such as the Region of Waterloo International Airport adopt ScreenScape not just as a conventional digital signage platform but as a way to collaborate with local and national businesses. We are thrilled to have another institution from Canada's tech corridor join the growing ScreenScape Community.”

RUMOUR: Zoom nabs LA Fitness deal

The DailyDOOH believe that Zoom Media & Marketing (the US counterpart of Montreal's Zoom Media) has inked a deal with LA Fitness to implant its Nielsen-measured fitness media network across the US-based gym chain.

Its possible that this agreement would bring the number of venues in Zoom’s The Fitness Network to more than 1,600 health clubs in the US and 2,500 globally.

[via DailyDOOH]

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Bay and Home Outfitters roll-out gift registry kiosks, partner with NCR

Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), Canada's largest diversified general merchandise retailer and provider of Canada’s largest gift registry, and NCR Corporation announce a partnership that sees NCRs’ SelfServ™ 60 kiosk systems deployed in-store at the Bay and Home Outfitter locations across the country.

Through this national roll-out, which took place between December 2009 and March 2010, customers will benefit from the increased versatility, improved speed, enhanced graphics and larger, brighter monitors of the new solution. Using touch screens, customers are able to navigate easily through registries with a single tap of the finger. The new kiosks feature reduced power consumption and offer double-sided printing with NCR’s 2ST™, both designed to lower carbon footprint, consumables usage and waste, and other environmental impacts.  

NCR worked closely with Hudson’s Bay Company during the solution transition to provide training and support services to associates and gift registry consultants.   NCR SelfServ 60 incorporates Intel®’s Active Management Technology (AMT), which enables remote problem diagnosis, updates and repairs - even when the device is turned off or the operating system is not functioning.

“This exciting initiative allows us to build upon the success of our gift registry business at the Bay and Home Outfitters, and continue to enhance our customer experience in-store with new and innovative technologies,” said Stella Farrace, National Sales & Service Manager (HOME Division & National Gift Registry) at Hudson’s Bay Company. “This system also offers a number of environmental benefits, which is in keeping with our ongoing commitment to identify opportunities to make our operations and services more environmentally-friendly.”
Commenting, Luc Villeneuve, president, NCR Canada said, “Hudson’s Bay Company is continually looking for new ways to enhance the customer experience. As an in-store service that provides tremendous value to Canadian consumers, we’re pleased and proud to be supporting the Bay and Home Outfitters’ gift registry business with our leading technology.”

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Southern Ontario YMCA branches establish digital signage network

YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford announced today that they have chosen ScreenScape to power digital displays inside their branch locations and to stimulate interest in YMCA programs throughout the ScreenScape Community.

“We needed a communication system that would allow us to easily distribute up to date information on our programs, events and services not only to our branches but out to the community at large.” said Chris Burr, General Manager of the Ron Edwards Family YMCA in Burlington. “We want each of our locations to complement our centrally-delivered content with their own custom messaging that applies to their location and ScreenScape allows us to do that simply and cost-effectively.”

ScreenScape is the world's first community-based digital signage network. Businesses of all sizes and in a range of industries use ScreenScape for digital signage, media distribution, and advertising. As a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, ScreenScape enables non-technical users to turn any Internet-connected computer or screen into a dynamic digital display. Members of ScreenScape also form a collaborative community, which acts as a shared resource for content creation, exchange, cross promotion and, for many, advertising revenue.

“The community concept behind ScreenScape is very important to us.” says Burr. “We now have the opportunity to engage with the other organizations in the ScreenScape Community to extend our marketing message. The ability to broadcast our community message to a wider audience is key in generating awareness about our programs, services, and donation campaigns.”

“The YMCA epitomizes community and so it is no surprise that they have connected with ScreenScape.” said Kevin Dwyer, ScreenScape President and CEO. “We are delighted to see them taking advantage of our solution to create their own content sharing network that promotes YMCA events and supports their donor outreach programs. As new YMCA chapters join ScreenScape they will be able to join and extend the reach of this network and form regional groups of their own. This is a great illustration of the power and flexibility of our community-based platform.”

BlackBerry QR Campaign at Osheaga...kinda sucked

Don't like to rant but BlackBerry managed to make me deviate from my usual ways.

I was excited to see that BlackBerry / RIM was sponsoring this past weekend's Osheaga music festival in Montreal and that they had an associated campaign integrating QR codes — 3D bar codes popular in Japan as a marketing tool — that BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) uses to exchange contact data.

Finally, a QR-code campaign in Canada! As per their blog, RIM's attending music festivals this summer across Canada, scattering images like the one above across the venues. Scanning the QR code with BBM should get you new "BBM friends" that will "let you know how to skip the long show lines, access exclusive content for your favorite bands, and maybe even how to get free tickets, VIP passes or a Nissan Cube."

That seems cool...unfortunately, when I scanned the code when I first noticed it on an associated web-page, the PIN — the eight character hexadecimal identification number assigned to each BlackBerry device — went into a pending status that was waiting for "authorization" and never left.

How disappointing...

Corning's Gorilla Glass could be the next big thing for TV's

Gorilla, an ultra-strong and resistant glass developed by Corning back in 1962, could be the secret 'ingredient' that makes our flat panel TV's even flatter. The product had no commercial use until 2008 when it started being used as a protective layer over the screens of 40 million-plus cell phones and other mobile devices.

Because Gorilla is very hard to break, dent or scratch, Corning believes it will be the material of choice to create new frameless high-end flat panel TV's. Although there isn't really a functional benefit to using the ultra-resistant glass, it does have an aesthetic benefit which could give TV's a more 'futuristic' bezel-less look. That said, it may be restricted to higher-end models as the glass will likely add $30 to $60 to the cost of a set, according to DisplaySearch market analyst Paul Gagnon.

Corning has approached and is currently in talks with the major LCD TV manufacturers and expects to bring Gorilla Glass to the TV market in early 2011.

[ via AP]