New Partnerships For iSIGN Media Solutions

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

Toronto-based iSIGN Media Solutions Inc. is going gangbusters these days with new partnerships signed over the past couple of months.

iSIGN is a business partner of AOpen America Inc., having an OEM agreement for the embedding of its IMS software in AOpen’s digital media players and IBM, as their Solution Provider, POS All Models. iSIGN’s software solutions are also distributed by BlueStar Inc. to their network of Value Added Resellers.

And now Pinpoint Media Group Inc., a Toronto based digital signage advertising network provider servicing 1,400 convenience stores with just over 5,200 digital faces in Canada has partnered with iSIGN to enhance its network. iSIGN’s Interactive Marketing Solution 3.0 software is currently being embedded into the Mac’s/Couche-Tard convenience store chain’s digital signage network in Canada – initially in Quebec first where it has over 85% of the market share in the convenience/gas retail market. Installations will follow in Ontario where it claims a 65% share of the market and Western Canada, where it has a 60% share of the market.

“We believe this is the single biggest digital network in Canada and one of the biggest in North America,” says Alex Romanov, iSign’s president and CEO.

The addition of iSIGN’s patent pending proximity-based interactive advertising solution will expand the reach of all signage advertising content to mobile phones, capturing shoppers’ response and allow for real time analysis. Pinpoint claims that it will be the first major advertising footprint to include ‘Business Intelligence’ data gathering to its advertising clients.

Once all signage is embedded and advertisers request activation of the IMS 3.0 software, annual revenues of just over $8 million will be generated by iSIGN’s monthly licensing fees. The embedding is an automated process, performed remotely, as is the activation which will be done throughout the network to engage advertisers.

iSign’s IMS software is based on proximity. If the user of a mobile phone within 300 ‘ of a screen in the retail outlet would like a coupon for something special he sees advertised on a Couche-Tard or Mac’s screen, he can text for a coupon without involving his mobile carrier – a key point since the phone user thereby incurs no cost. The media player manages the content and the coupon will be loaded directly onto the mobile phone.

With the Couche-Tard/Mac’s chain averaging 1.5 million customers daily and with each customer perhaps loading three or four coupons, that’s a lot of coupons!

This is expected to increase consumer awareness and spontaneous purchases in the Mac’s/Couche-Tard chain, Romanov says that it will increase sales and revenues for the stores, the advertisers and Pinpoint.

“This will be a very unique ROI opportunity for our advertisers and will be instantly measurable as all signage is embedded and the IMS 3.0 software activated for advertisers,” says Enmanuel Rumbos, president of Pinpoint Media. “This is something that ad agencies and clients alike are constantly looking for in this emerging medium.”

“Advertisers on the Pinpoint signage network will be able to receive real-time feedback to each advertisement sent to shoppers’ phones from every sign in each location,” says Mr. Romanov. “Currently our IMS 3.0 software has demonstrated the ability to interact with 150,000 or more mobile devices per month from a single unit and we look forward to the volume of data we will capture in a chain with millions of customers monthly. Pinpoint’s advertisers will be the beneficiaries of large volumes of confirmed responses to each advertisement. This is a marketer’s dream.”

Pinpoint recently won the City of Calgary’s parks and recreation rights to deploy and manage its digital solution for a roll out expected to take place beginning in January 2011.

Earlier in December, AOpen America began embedding of iSIGN’s IMS software into its digital media players. The partnership has led to the creation of the what is believed to be world’s first multi-function media player, capable of providing content management, Bluetooth message broadcasting and data logging of consumer responses into a single unit. Through the iSIGN-enhanced signs, consumers are able to interact directly with marketers’ messages through their mobile phones.

“Initially, AOpen is embedding our software into its newest digital media players, the MP45DU, DE45HG and DE7000 models prior to being delivered to their distributors and customers,” says Romanov, “This will result in faster and easier activation of our software by the end users, thus reducing time and costs. AOpen has advised that it will expanding its embedding program to include all of its models within the near future.”

“For years, retailers have been looking for a methodology of providing real time delivery of couponing, promotions, and advertising in their stores that are targeted at the buying habits of their loyal customers,” says Vernon Slack, director of business development, for AOpen America. “This is that solution and we believe that it will revolutionize loyalty systems.”

In addition, for companies that have loyalty programs, the retailers can register loyalty customer’s information including the MAC address of their cell phones. When this happens they have a database of the shopper including their cell phone or PDA. When the shopper walks into a store the system picks up that they are there and can promote to them during their shopping trip based on their shopping history and buying habits and based on where they are in the store. This means that they can maximize their promotional campaigns and improve their customers shopping experiences.

As this takes off, it also helps in-store promotions go viral. For instance, stores can allow the sharing of promotions, so if a person receives a special promotion on their cell phone they can forward it to friends and acquaintances and the retailer then gets the benefit of their customers extending their promotions for them.

“This partnership between AOpen and iSIGN Media signifies an important step forward, as it will provide the digital signage industry with both cost savings, added smarts and convenience never before available,” says Slack – iSIGN’s pricing ranges from $130 to $160 per month, depending upon the length of contract.)

Both firms will launch the new units in North and South America and expect to realize increased unit sales with up to 30% penetration in the current sales of 30,000 units per month sold worldwide by AOpen. The companies are planning an industry-wide push to introduce the multi-function media players to targeted customers in four channels: general retail; food and drug; fast food and cinema; and convenience stores. Launch promotions have been confirmed at various up-coming trade events.

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