Why spend ages making a small sale / negotiating a small deal when you could probably spend just as much time doing a big one!!!
That must be Adam Dell’s missive in life as his WindowGain business has just negotiated a contract with Developers Diversified Realty (DDR) in the US. Whilst we wouldn’t put DDR in the tier 1 of shopping malls / shopping centres they do have, as a business, over 740 properties in North America – which is obviously not to be sniffed at!
Michelle Jarboe of Cleveland.com was given the story by DDR first and writes…
Some shopping center owners want you to notice their vacancies.
Developers Diversified Realty, for one, is partnering with a tiny new tech company to turn empty store windows into outdoor theaters for high-definition ads.
Within 15 months, customers could see about 75 ever-changing displays wend across windows at Developers Diversified’s shopping centers across the country.
It’s a marketing match of contrasts.
On one end, there’s Developers Diversified, a Beachwood-based real estate investment trust that owns or manages about 740 shopping centers and saw profits of $225 million last year.
On the other end, there’s WindowGain, a company in Boston with six employees and a balance sheet still in the red.
But the small private company could provide the huge public one with an answer to a perennial retail question: Between tenants, what’s an owner to do with retail space?
WindowGain’s response: Cover the windows with a film and set up a pile of projectors inside the empty store. WindowGain can create a high-quality display capable of showing still advertisements, videos and computer animations. Each store is equipped with a computer, and the company’s employees can update and send ads to different locations in minutes.
This technology is running four displays in Boston and a few in the United Kingdom, but WindowGain executives say snagging a deal with Developers Diversified is the real prize.
“It completely changed the focus of our company,” said Prem Hira, the company’s 37-year-old chief operating officer. “It really allowed us to start thinking of a national footprint for our company much sooner than we thought we were going to.”
Hira and Adam Dell, the 35-year-old chief executive at WindowGain, met executives from Developers Diversified at a New York retail conference in December. Marc Feldman immediately saw an opportunity to do something at DDR shopping centers, which collectively have a vacancy rate of about 5 percent.
“From an advertising standpoint, this is really hitting the sweet spot,” said Feldman, director of strategic partnerships at Developers Diversified.
A former sales guru for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Feldman believes innovative marketing is increasingly important as traditional media like newspapers, radio and even television cede ground to the Internet, cell phones and iPods. At Developers Diversified, he has worked with a number of new variations on the old outdoor advertising theme, including ads on the painted stripes in parking lots and graphics on the sidewalks in front of stores.
Those ads – and WindowGain’s displays – fall into a growing category some industry types describe as “alternative media.”
Last year, advertisers spent more than $73 billion to convey their messages through nontraditional sources including cell phones, video games, the Internet, Webisodes, consumer-generated media and digital displays outside of homes.
Such formats could soak up nearly 27 percent of the country’s total advertising dollars by 2012, according to a recent report from PQ Media, a self-described pioneer of research into alternative media.
Hira won’t say how much advertisers are willing to pay for a presence in WindowGain’s displays, but it’s enough that he and Dell basically have stopped working their day jobs at another company they helped start in New York.
That’s where the men came up with the idea of dynamic window displays, while experimenting to create an attention-grabbing sign for their office near Penn Station.
“The immediate reaction from local businesses was so positive that we turned the sign off almost immediately and applied for a patent,” Hira said.
The company’s Boston displays have won advertisers including Verizon Wireless, the Boston Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium and the Massachusetts State Lottery. The empty downtown store windows also host news, sports and weather reports from Boston.com, the online arm of The Boston Globe newspaper.
Feldman said advertisers at Developers Diversified properties could include other tenants in the outdoor shopping centers, whether they’re chains of stores anchored by a Wal-Mart or more neighborhood-like collections of boutiques and department stores.
The first displays are likely to go up around Atlanta, where Developers Diversified has a few dozen properties. Feldman does not know when shoppers at the company’s Ohio properties might see the moving storefront ads.
Advertisers will pay WindowGain, which in turn will pay Developers Diversified a fee for using the space.
And if a new tenant comes along, it won’t be difficult to move them in. With just a computer, a few projectors, some cords and a window-covering to move, WindowGain’s technology can be taken down and shifted to a new storefront in a single day.