BroadSign – #DSTop10 Vendors Review

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Ahead of our Top 10 Digital Signage Vendors 2010 list being published in February and having already covered EnQii and STRATACACHE it’s time to turn our attention to BroadSign.

BroadSign of course were number 3 in 2008 and number 3 again in 2009. We do like their software. We really do like their software. It’s good. It’s not the default signage solution for the likes of Neo Media Group, AccentHealth and ContextMedia for nothing.

BroadSign should also be applauded for helping drive the industry forward and supporting industry events and conferences. They are probably one of the best at supporting the industry with marketing dollars (note to cynics: we have turned down every offer of marketing dollars from BroadSign).

We particularly like (and again, we applaud) their work with Arbitron – something they have been working on since late 2007 when they conducted their first successful proof-of-play audit together. In September they hired the media measurement giant to perform a full audit of its proof-of-play reporting system – Arbitron is using its PPM technology to conduct a series of annual audits capturing when encoded audio and video advertising content is displayed on networked digital screens in a representative sample of BroadSign-run locations across North America AND that data will be compared with BroadSign’s commercial play logs.

It’s difficult to gauge the size of BroadSign’s customers’ networks – a network can be a a dozen screens, 100’s or in some cases 1,000’s but we think that BroadSign has grown its client base in 2009 from what was probably around 160 networks in 2008 to something like 230 networks at the end of 2009.

Whether that constitutes the “largest connected aggregate of digital signage networks” as they (BroadSign) claim is a moot point but it’s certainly big. Again we don’t want to dwell on Neo Media Group, AccentHealth or ContextMedia but they are all large by anyone’s standards (the last two nationwide health care networks alone constitute something like over 10,000 digital sites between them).

Blockbuster, Virgin Megastores, TMT Factory (Barcelona Airport), Visser Digital Media, Media Landscape and Digital News TV are a few new client wins in 2009 as well and despite the recession many of their existing clients have grown as well – Reach Sports Marketing for instance most probably doubled its size in 2009!

We didn’t quite get BroadSign’s decision (seemingly) to drop direct sales when it decided to diversify its distribution channels. Early in the year BroadSign joined forces with major distributors in North America and Europe – these partnerships with Ingram Micro and Bell Micro started producing reseller deals towards the end of the year we believe.

A few months ago BroadSIgn released BroadSign Creator 1.2 – a lighter version of their flagship software that allows smaller networks to more easily create, schedule and play back high-quality content on their screens. BroadSign Creator is also a very reseller-friendly software-as-a-service solution that can be subscribed to separately or as part of an all-in-one (screen/PC/software) package.

As you know we are fond also of ‘solution providers’ and the release of Creator was quickly followed by contracts with major content providers, such as; Accuweather, AP, Bluefox, Gener8 and The Window Channel – allow them to sell packaged and custom-made content feeds to network owners through BroadSign’s infrastructure.

BroadSign contributed to the industry in other ways as well; Nurlan Urazbaev did a great job working on OVAB’s Research and Standards committee – this collaborative effort of course delivered the audience measurement rulebook in less than 18 months (11 out of 24 member networks of OVAB have already completed their 3rd party audience studies following the Guidelines).

After building a ‘large shared tenant infrastructure’ the next logical step for BroadSign was (possibly) to somehow enable cross-network media transactions – which it has done by releasing the BroadSign Open API.

BroadSign very much see BroadSign Open as the enabling technology for future automation of cross-network campaign execution – something which we all hope will make DOOH media aggregation truly web-based and efficient.

DOOH aggregators such as rVue and DOmedia have already partnered with BroadSign and we reckon that BroadSign is currently in talks with a number of other DOOH ad portals and maybe, just maybe one of those is Cisco’s Ad Exchange 😉

All of this should allow BroadSign-powered networks to add their media space to ad portals’ inventory – with BroadSign Open acting as a technology hub if you like.

#DSTop10 posts are kindly sponsored by Magenta Research

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