Key and major changes have taken place at Los Angeles-based ConnectiVISION Digital Communications Network as its management puts in place its new strategic plan and focus – so if you’ve heard rumours, as we had, that the company is winding down – we believe you can totally discount that idea.
But rumours, being what they are, start somewhere – usually with a disgruntled or ex-employee or a jealous competitor – so we delved further and, lo and behold, what we’re actually seeing is a trimmer, revitalized and much more focused ConnectiVISION emerging from the five-year-old company.
Klein and Tétreault took over management of ConnectiVISION from Peter Cullen, (former president, no longer with the company), Klein having previously been global insights and research director at Premier Retail Networks and Tétreault, who joined the company shortly after Klein last January, having large experience especially with 20th Century Fox.
Klein was offered the post of president when Cullen left, but preferred the title COO where he felt he could get more hands-on. Tétreault was brought in to direct marketing and sales, and since developed the programming and affiliate development program with hospital networks.
“When I came in, this was a company with a lot of great ideas, but running ahead of their budgets,” says Tétreault. “A lot of good things were in place but were being done on too much of a shotgun approach. I felt that the company should pause and take stock of where it should go. We needed a much better focus.”
Here are some of the key changes now either completed or underway:
- The company is focusing particularly on ConnectiMed’s growth. A solid 90-day strategic plan for expansion of the ConnectiMed networks in doctors’ offices, clinics and hospitals was put in place. A 60-day installation plan should see screens in 15 of the top 25 DMAs across the U.S., increasing viewership 50% or more. The screens are designed with a new Frame Share App that includes news from CNBC and Access Hollywood across the bottom, advertising and information on the right, and top TV programming in the main section.
- A long-term corporate strategic agenda has been compiled. (This document is 190 pages long and we may deal with that in a future, separate article.)
- A consolidation of the operations at El Dorado Hills has taken place, with the company downsizing to a smaller location in the existing building comprising, only its technical installation and operations centre, and no longer handling any advertising sales, affiliate programs in that location. (A huge increase in rent and too large a space helped spur this.)
- All marketing sales, affiliate development and programming have been transitioned to the Los Angeles office.
- The contracts of several consultants were not renewed for the time being. (“Some good ones may eventually be brought on board as staff, once the full plan is implemented,” says Klein.)
- ConnectiVISION’s kiosks in airports (ConnectiPort) are being phased out in their present format (where people could rent computers and recharge cell phones) and transitioned to a more virtual retail format allowing consumers to buy directly or through exclusive catalogues from high-end retailers. (Neiman Marcus is already on board and another well-known name is in the signing process.) It will also include the downloading of digital music, film and TV, in partnership with MediaPort in Salt Lake City, Utah. (While ConnectiPort is undergoing change, that section of the company’s website cannot be viewed.)
“With most people now carrying their own computers and with airports now offering free phone charging, it makes sense to close the kiosks as they are,” says Tétreault. “And since companies like JCDecaux pretty well having the airport furniture sector locked up, we’re now testing in both the retail and hospitality sectors.”
- The company has begun working with the aggregator Entourage, San Francisco, for advertising sales. It is also about to hire a well-known name to handle advertising sales in the New York market. (We know who he is, but can’t reveal until the signature is on the bottom line.)
- Mark Rickoff, formerly with ZoomSystems, San Francisco, joined ConnectiVISION recently as senior vice-president affiliate distribution.
We also learned that, in cooperation with Clear Channel and MediaPort, the company is currently pitching business at Phoenix Airport.
“David and I saw a lot of mistakes when we came into the company, and we want to set it on the right track for the long term,” says Klein.
Earlier this year, ConnectiVISION chose Enqii, digital signage platform provider, New York, as partner to provide its network to thousands of screens in hospitals, clinics and doctors offices across the country,
“ConnectiVISION has great content and great leadership,” says Stuart Armstrong, president, Enqii Americas. “They’re out there getting things moving. I find them a pretty impressive group. They really understand venues and audiences. These guys are pros. Of course, like everyone else, they are working to get a solid financial structure in place.”
Which also accounts for the moves the company is making.
“The key thing at the moment is our positioning in the healthcare market,” says Klein. “There are a lot of companies in the field and, over time, we expect the market to shake out a bit. In the long-term, we may be interested in mergers or acquisitions.
“But any rumours of our death are greatly exaggerated!”