Blast Media Makes Three-way Agreement as It Readies for Expansion

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

Toronto-based Blast Media Group, owner and operator of The Bar Channel, last week made a three-way agreement with Adflow Networks of Burlington, Ont., and Rogers Digital Network Solutions, Toronto, as it gears up for further expansion.

The Bar Channel allows advertisers to connect with a highly-targeted demographic of individuals between the ages of 19 to 34 through digital screens located at bars and restaurants in various Canadian locations. It currently has 42” screens in 92 locales, with a weekly viewing of more than 200,000. While all locations have at least one screen, the average is about four.

While its short-term goal is deeper penetration in Ontario, The Bar Channel’s longer aim is to target bars, pubs, restaurants and clubs in Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal, and in the United States, as well. (It already has had inquiries from Des Moines, iowa.)

The Bar Channel screens offer a combination of information and entertainment content – real time sports scores, weather forecasts and news updates sharing screen time with high energy sports highlights, comedy clips and blooper reels – interspersed with advertising spots. It currently holds the rights to 56 hours of content in two-minute clips.

“Up to now, we’ve been doing almost everything ourselves,” says Jeff White, Blast Media president. “Under our new agreement, Adflow Networks now designs and creates our software and runs the content, and Rogers will provide some content and handle our advertising sales.”

Rogers Digital Network Solutions is an 18-month-old segment of Rogers Media, Toronto. Established as a media aggregator in the burgeoning digital signage space, it also handles advertising sales for the 220 locations of the Pizza Pizza-TV network, available in dine-in Pizza Pizza restaurants across southern Ontario.

The Adflow Dynamic Messaging System is a Web-hosted solution for the deployment and operation of digital signage and interactive kiosk networks and the online management of digital media supply chains. It currently has about 25 operating networks in the retail, financial and hospitality sectors.

“Adflow Networks’ digital media management expertise and patented software technology will add a key component to the overall success of The Bar Channel,” says White. “The Bar Channel works to satisfy three main pillars: the bar customer, the bar owner and the advertiser.

“It allows the bars to brand the screens with the restaurant/bar logo, essentially making them their own tv channel, and 20% of revenue goes back to the bars. We also provide bar managers with the ability to post real time messages. Guest information, specials and promotions are easily programmed from any computer simply by logging onto the Blast Web site, and updates are immediate.

“Clients can also run their own commercials in the video window. And each location has a choice of ‘tickers’ delivering real time updates for sports, entertainment and business.”

The screens provide a marketing tool which drives sales, entertains patrons, increases traffic and decreases perceived wait times, all while delivering a targeted audience to advertisers. There is no cost to bar owners to install, and Blast Media also helps finance bars that want to redo all their TVs and bring them up-to-date with plasma screens. (The system works with both plasma and LCD screens.)

Further, Blast Media has a full creative department that will create flash and video ads for advertising clients and its bar clients as required.

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