Here is our list of the “Ten Companies to Watch in 2008”
Leading up to Christmas I will also be publishing my “Top 10 Digital Signage / CMS / Software Solutions” and (just before the festive season begins) some of my predictions for the industry in 2008.
No doubt about it, these guys are the first European wide network. Based in Geneva and with operations already in Canada, Germany, Austria and of course their home country, last month saw them acquire POSTV to gain networks in the BeNeLux countries. Not only are these guys aggressive, they are smart and business savvy. Listening to their MD talk about their spreadsheet model for venues vs. advertising revenue should be a must for any wannabee digital media owner. Early 2008 will see more acquisitions from them – first I believe in an emerging market and by mid year these guys will have come to the United Kingdom. A very exciting company and the number 1 to watch in 2008.
I have covered this Dublin based business a few times in 2007. They have strong operations in the US and in the UK. Most recently they have been doing some great high impact, mobile digital signage at Premiership Football grounds. Something I think brands and advertisers will like. They also have this ‘mysterious’ fixed digital signage network in the offing. It’s Unilever with its Ice Cream product – a sort of branded fixture. It has the potential to be a huge network and to boot a network that would cover many countries across Europe. AdWalker don’t seem to be allowed to talk about it, which is a real shame. It will grow and be talked about in 2008 and I believe that AdWalker will be a major player in the fixed and mobile screen network market next year.
Pioneers in a new digital out of home category which we have called StreetLevelTV. These guys have taken the high street and shopping mall by storm – turning empty store fronts into visual, talking, interactive billboards. Like the pop-up store concept in the US of a few years ago, these StreetLevelBillboards come and go. True guerilla marketing. It’s cool, it’s hip and it’s eye-catching. Media planners I have spoken with have loved it. This year saw them step foot in the US market with a New York installation. Next year expect them to be in many more major international cities.
I don’t believe that an audience measurement metric for digital out of home will be the panacea that many people (especially the audience measurement vendors) will have you believe. I am however a big believer in measurement per se. Quividi were one of the first automated audience measurement companies in the market place., Small, privately owned, based in Paris they use off the shelf USB cameras and windows based PCs to measure the gaze of screen viewers. I have often said that the way forward with automated audience measurement is a product roadmap that moves quickly away from a PC to an embedded device however, some of the pricing that others are talking about for this technology is frankly ridiculous, Quividi has customers because their technology works and they have a sensible pricing policy. Media owners that are using Windows PCs elsewhere in their network can re-use spare CPU cycles to run the cameras as well. I would expect to see more media owners partner with Quividi in 2008.
Perhaps my favourite content provider (and with folks like Grand Visual, Realisation and Amigo Digital there is stiff opposition). Dagobert already provide content in 12 countries across Europe. They coined the Dagobert 10 rules of content and have shared it with the industry. I would expect more media owners and screen networks to outsource content provision in 2008 and this Paris based business will continue to grow and pick up more business.
DeMedya, based in Istanbul, run a number of networks in Turkey – the one I am most excited about is their very own Pharmacy Channel. Adopting a niche network for retailers if you have the expertise and are willing to specialise is a sure way of success with digital screen networks. DeMedya are well funded, well thought of and have spent well with pharmaceutical talent. With the deals they have in place with the various Pharmaceutical Associations they are poised for tremendous growth in 2008. Seriously I would expect their Pharmacy Channel to be the largest anywhere in the world by the end of 2008. It doesn’t affect DeMedya (and I wouldn’t expect them to grow outside of Turkey just yet) but if only Turkey was allowed in the European Union!
Well financed and with 100 clients in 14 countries and (proper) offices in London, New York, Toronto, Hong Kong, Dubai and Melbourne, EnQii are the ONLY true global digital signage player anywhere in the world. Whilst they have over 10 years experience in the industry, under their new guise of EnQii they have an almost (brand) new management team (the technology team in Canada being the main exception) and are attracting some of the best talent in the industry to work for them. We haven’t seen any big deal announcements from them just yet but we will very shortly – in 2008 we will see some big deals coming in the Middle East, some of their US networks will announce some massive expansion plans and we will see traditional media owners and traditional brands flock to them as they (themselves) look for partners and suppliers who can support them globally. I for one can’t wait for their IPO (but I don’t think that will be in 2008).
Can you believe it? A UK (Cambridge) based technology company with world beating technology !!! Yes it’s true, these guys deserve (a) a pat on the back and (b) a smack round the head. With their modular ITrans digital screen display they have solved all the problems of TFT LCD and PDPs not really being visible in bright sunlight as well as having found a way to give much, much better resolution than that offered by the alternative large screen LEDs. Their problem like that of many technology and engineering led companies was that they thought that if they built the technology then customers would flock to their door demanding product! These guys spent millions on manufacturing capacity but nothing on sales and marketing. That has luckily started to change and they are now in serious discussions with all the big media owners and the retail merchandisers. I predict seeing ITrans screens everywhere in 2008.
These Scandinavian guys have only just started to put their head above the parapet – and so they should – they have some great digital screen display technology. I like the design (Scandinavian, of course it’s going to be good) the way that the IP device can be embedded in the screen itself and the way they handle touch screen and interaction. These folks already have some incredibly well known world wide retail brands (IKEA, H&M, Harrods etc.) as customers and I expect them to make major inroads in the retail sector in 2008.
The Sound Agency
Julian Treasure, the author, founder and CEO of The Sound Agency has already been featured in Business Week this year. Sound is one of those areas that everyone, yes everyone forgets about. These folks are the experts in acoustics and probably the only folks in the world who specialise in this area. If you are a retailer or a media owner and you are not talking to them then you need to. I expect to see the Sound Agency do much more in digital out of home in 2008.