Exclusive Interview With enVu’s Benjamin Mathieu

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

Founded quietly last May as a new wholly-owned subsidiary of STRATACACHE, New York-based enVu will be officially launched tomorrow, ready to show off and attract advertisers to its first product which is called enSpire.

Using immersive gestural interactive projection technology to display digital advertising on the floor while engaging consumers within key retail locations in the Top 20 DMAs across the U.S., enSpire has ALREADY been installed in 85 malls, with plans to be in 170 malls by the end of October, and 215 by mid-2011. Four major real estate companies owning malls are already on board.

enVu is headed by CEO Benjamin Mathieu, former CEO of course of Neo Advertising Canada (recently sold to Traffic), and earlier with BroadSign (all based in Montreal).

We talked exclusively to Mathieu about enVue, enSpire and plans for the future.

“Our focus is immersive interactive digital signage,” Mathieu says. ”We expect to be the only ones with permanent installations across the U.S.. To do this, we are buying all components from suppliers and doing everything ourselves, including selling the advertising. And we are developing partnerships with malls for the permanent installations. Our priority is malls but eventually we want to move into airports and then into retail.”

Each installation involves a ceiling projector focused on a 6’ x 8’ flat-framed floor area in each mall’s highest traffic spots.

When someone moves a hand over the projection or moves onto it, it is interactive. A loop will show news, sports and weather on the floor, which will also have as many as 10 ads of 30 seconds to 45 seconds.

While most mall projection technologies only allow consumers to see an ad changing with animation, enSpire Mall Media 3.0 allows consumers to interact with the advertisement itself. The product, we are told, has proven stopping power.

We were immediately reminded of floor installations by GestureTek and, sure enough, GestureTek is one of the suppliers, as are Christie Digital, STRATACACHE with their Activia for Media software and Sony’s Convergent Media for mall installations.

“What makes us different is not only that we are putting in permanent installations, but that everyone involved has up to 10 years experience in digital signage,” says Mathieu. “Also, we have the size of a group like STRATACACHE behind us, and we have no need for outside investors.

“And we are offering advertisers 1.5 billion annual viewership, once the 215 malls are installed by mid-2011.”

enVu is currently negotiating deals with unnamed advertisers in the entertainment, telecom, banking, consumer electronics and big box retailing sectors.

“Working in DOOH for more than eight years, I’ve been able to regroup some of the most talented, experienced professionals for the enVu team,” says Mathieu.

“Our exceptional team and the symbiotic synergy with STRATACACHE will quickly lead enVu into the forefront of the DOOH media space.”

The company currently has a staff of 17, in operations, sales, accounting and marketing. Jon Keller, vice-president sales is located in Chicago, with staff in Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco, and enVu is looking to hire two sales people in New York.

An agreement has been made with Arbitron for measurement, and that measurement will help the company know how to best target specific demographics. At the beginning, enSpire is expected to most attract children and the 18-34 group.

“Our vision: We want to dominate and be the aggregator in the mall space,” says Mathieu.

The efficient deployment process design by Jimmy Abraham, vice-president of IT and operations, is permitting enVu to implement 20+ installations in malls per week. Even during difficult times, mall traffic has remained consistently high. A typical consumer visits a mall 36 times a year with an average visit of 78 minutes.

However, enSpire isn’t stopping with the mall product. It will move into airports and is already looking at a vertical wall product for the future. enVu envisions future growth to 5 billion annual viewers in key DOOH venues by 2013.

In a note from Chris Riegel, enVu chairman and CEO at STRATACACHE, he told us “enVu will become a global player in the digital out-of-home space. Eventually, we will be seen not only in malls, but in other key consumer environments. And, while the U.S. is the primary market for enVu, we are already exploring opportunities around the world.”

12 Responses to “Exclusive Interview With enVu’s Benjamin Mathieu”

  1. anon Says:

    Now I’ve been around too long – officially. It’s like our own hot tub dooh time machine. Seriously, did you try really, really hard not to say Reactrix in your post?

    Maybe it will work this time. Keep the rents down to the mall operators.

  2. Projecting Confidence | Digital Signage Blog | Says:

    […] Riegel, whose company today was revealed as the owner of the enVu Mall Media network in a post on The DailyDOOH. The move seems to provide some insight into Riegel’s overall strategy and is worthy of […]

  3. anon2 Says:

    Sounds like the only thing different from the Reactrix model will be an attempt to run news, etc. through the playlist. Hmmmm. Kids don’t care about news. Parents don’t want to watch news on the floor. News isn’t interactive. Doesn’t sound like a winner to me. Forced 30 second ads between the interactive content might work. But running other non-interactive content sounds questionable.

    Hopefully the current climate (and Reactrix’s previous demise) will allow a good deal with the mall owners. But ultimately it comes down to revenue…and Reactrix failed there miserably its last 12 months.

  4. anon Says:


    -Better ad climate (slightly) now though remains to be seen how much better. They will need an integrated mobile strategy to really make it hunt.
    -Riegel knows how to pinch a penny unlike Reactrix’s former management.
    -The audience numbers will typical dooh crackpipe but who cares if the agencies are buying.

    Nice to see a new venue start up again.

  5. X Reactrix Says:

    If they keep control on there Roi they might make it.
    How ever cost of installation is very expensive.
    Also they did not even change the skins just put there logo on it, by the way was a poor design.
    Pretty obvious Christie had laying around since they were one of Reactrix’s suppliers.

  6. DOOH DOOH Says:

    This is a big dumb idea. This is what Reactrix was good for–KIDS JUMPING AROUND ON IT!

    The idea that any adult would look for news, sports and weather on a dirty mall floor with kids jumping on it is beyond me. And most people shopping in the mall have a smart phone with easy access to the same info, and in fact they can customize the information from their phone, so in summation–bad idea EnVU team.

  7. David Weinfeld Says:

    There is a market for these types of interactive experiences in retail and public space environments. I, however, agree with many of the commenters who see this as a pure Reactrix rehash. In order for these executions to be successful, they must engage consumers beyond a single interaction. The installations need to leverage new technology and focus upon long-term consumer engagement – why would anyone interact with these displays after the first few times?

  8. Anonymous Says:

    somebody said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly yet hoping for different results each time..? The worst business model in our sector’s history is being resurrected..? Why not simply break through the core problem itself and just market the intercept to kid-focused advertisers, mattel, playskool, disney..? Pretending that adults consume this technology is pretty amateur fare at this point. I’m sure they pay rent to the malls, and take on all capital expenditures to boot. God almighty.

  9. bk Says:

    the Reactrix version included RSS feeds & so had news available to it. However, sports feeds are better mated to the interactive games …

  10. ML x-Reactrix Says:

    I am a former Reactrix employee, and also view what I read and saw as a rehash of what we worked on: same sow, different shade of lipstick.
    Our product did attract a lot of attention — primarily from kids; their parents seemed to love the idea of a “playground” that didn’t involve having to climb upon or touch anything while generating entertainment for the young ones.
    I loved the technology, but realized very quickly that a revenue stream that could overcome the cost of installation, maintenance (projection bulbs), repair and cleaning (floor screens) was distant, very distant.
    Regardless, I wish all of the players good luck.

  11. Really? Says:

    “Our vision: We want to dominate and be the aggregator in the mall space,” says Mathieu.
    OnSpot, Reactrix…and so many others that have come and gone. Why? Because advertisers discount mall traffic as mothers/kids and teens. Which means you’re not going to get much interest from the A25-54 brands, the core of the ad world.

    Malls are a tough row to hoe. Their traffic numbers are not standardized or reliable. Their demos aren’t that desirable. Media consumption in that environment is minimal (people are there to shop and are more likely to be glued to their smartphones than and digital screens a wannabee ad network might put up). Ad buyers just aren’t all that interested, for good reason.

  12. Reactr-ex Says:

    Good luck gents . . . now that a defunct company has absorbed all the capX and the malls are desperate, you picked a good time to strike. I wish you luck.

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