This month we welcome Mac Ma, CEO, Pilot TV Media, Taipei, Taiwan.
- Please tell us about yourself. What is your work background and how did you get into the digital out-of-home business? How long have you been CEO?
In college, I majored in Banking and Insurance. But, I love advertising and creativity, so, I have been in advertising business for over 23 years. I started my own advertising agency around 20 years ago. I am now CEO of both Pilot TV and Elite Ad (my own advertising agency). I am also a consultant on marketing to three companies of ChiMei Group. We started looking into LCD-TV and the Internet’s effect on marketing and advertising back in 2002.
- I believe Pilot TV Media is part of the Chi Mei Group and Chi Lin Technology Investment Media Corp.. Is it the only media property owned by these companies? Was Pilot TV set up independently? Please tell us a little about the history of the company?
Pilot TV (PTV) is a subsidiary of ChiLin Technology Co. (CLT). It is the only media property owned by CLT, which has continuously supported innovative industry and has put in many R&D efforts. PTV was established 2007, with the aim of building up digital signage and its commercial use.
- In 2010, you had approximately 3,600 screens of various sizes, mainly in three major networks for FamilyMart stores, McDonald’s, and in railway transportation. What has changed since then in terms of growth and locations?
We still operate these three networks. Although screens increase as time goes on, advertising prices can’t be reasonable without measuring tools. In 2012, we’ll install O-Viewer to each screen of our current networks and those of new networks in the future.
Digital Signage has that marketing ‘last mile’ affect on consumers. At convenience stores, consumers decide to buy a new product; at fast food chains, they decide to go car shopping over the weekend; at the subway, consumers decide to go to the department store to buy sales items before going home.
- You have plans to add another 1,100 locations this year. In what areas do you hope to add these? Do you have any definite commitments yet in regards to this expansion?
PTV proved that digital signage increases purchases in convenience stores. By 2013, PTV will cover 70% of convenience stores and reach 6 million consumers a day
- Tell us about the content of each of your networks. Who handles the creative? Do you have a deal with any public TV networks to supply content?
We have cooperated with many content providers including cartoon animators, fashion magazines, news media and entertainment websites for a long time. Each network has different content. We also have our own in-house production team to develop innovative content modules. The differences between DOOH and TV are the viewing environment and dwell time for consumers, so our content is all less than three minutes long. Public TV networks usually use our networks promote their programs.
- Whose software do you use behind each of your networks? And how are you using the Cloud?
According to hardware used in the different channels, PTV current uses three different broadcasting systems, Windows Embedded, Linus Embedded, and Android. All three systems are compatible with each other to support the needs of the different broadcast channels.
Cloud computing has been a very hot topic in the past two years. When we began our development, PTV incorporated the concept of cloud computing into our own viewer measurement system. Other then viewer measurements, cross channel and cross platform integration are both future goals of our cloud computing technology. Working with Internet providers and other Cloud Computing Service providers – Microsoft, Google, and CHT (Taiwan’s biggest telecom company) – are all parts of PTV’s plan. We hope to expand the development of the whole DOOH industry in Taiwan.
- Who controls each network? Do store managers have any opportunity to input contents or is it all handled by a central control?
PTV is the only one controlling the contents on each network. Store manager still need to go through PTV. It is centrally controlled.
- Please tell us how your O-Viewer measurement system works. What role does it play in targeting your audiences?
Viewer measurement is the focal point of all digital signage developers. Without providing reliable ROI information, we can’t convince advertisers and channel distributors to enter the digital signage industry.
Other then providing media measurement, O-Viewer measurement system can also provide channel distributors with visitor analysis, which includes location, time, content and visitors’ statistics. With viewers’ behavior, including preference and viewing time, the O-viewer measurement system can accurately provide different statistics to advertisers and channel distributors for marketing analysis and it even becomes a standard for advertising pricing.
- Back in 2010, there was an agreement between Pilot TV Media, Quividi in Paris and DiGital Content Technologies of Singapore (a Quividi VAR) to measure your screen networks. And prior to that, you had an extensive test in five FamilyMart stores with Quividi. Is there a connection between your O-Viewer that you now use and Quividi, or did the pilot test convince you to take another direction?
O-Viewer measurement system was developed in the hope of creating a successful business model for the global digital signage media. Facial recognition technology is currently the most matured technology. With the development of new technologies and decreasing cost, in the future, O-viewer measurement system does not rule out the possibilities of utilizing other technologies, eg. retina recognition, expression recognition, hand-gesture recognition, and hand-sign recognition.
Quvidi has entered its fourth years of cooperation with PTV. Quividi provides a fast and accurate result of viewer measurements. With the developments of different needs from advertisers and channel distributors, PTV looks forward to facing these challenges with Quividi, in the hope of building more successful business models for digital signage media.
PTV also will seek other potential partners in other recognition technologies in hope of promoting cross-media marketing, recognition and interactions.
- Do you handle all advertising sales for all networks in-house? How large a sales staff do you have? Do they specialize by national sales, local sales, or by network?
PTV has 10 advertising sales staff in-house. Sales people contact clients directly or go through ad agencies.
- What kind of advertising is on the screens in each main network? What is the advertising/editorial ratio? Is advertising full screen or divided with editorial content, tickers, etc.? Who are some of your biggest advertisers?
The majority of the time slots on PTV are commercials from various clients, for example for new product launches and new product sales. We also have information content: news, weather, the recent Taiwan Presidential Election results. Government, the food industry, telecoms and Internet game industries are our main advertisers. Other than MRT’s (subway) screens, which need to show on-time MRT information, all other screens show one piece of information at a time, with a running text at the bottom.
- How far do your networks extend: across the country? In specific cities? Outside your own country? Do you plan to expand outside your own country? When, if so, or why not?
There are a total of 8,000 convenience stores in Taiwan. PTV can provide services to anywhere Internet can reach. However, we prefer to concentrate on Taiwan first.
- Do you have any plans to go outside of your current retail sector to move into more specific niches such as pharmacies, hospitals, educational facilities or fashion boutiques?
PTV will focus on convenience stores, pharmacies, rapid transit stations, and fast food chains.
- What are your own main responsibilities, and how do you see your own future evolving in the DOOH world? Do you have time or opportunity to travel and see what is developing in other countries? Are there areas about which you’d like to learn more?
The cost of hardware will be cheaper and cheaper. My main responsibility is to make sure digital signage can make money, and the business model can be established and proven workable.
I am a motorcycle enthusiast and have traveled to many countries around the world both for riding and for business trips. I also read lots of case studies about digital signage. Audience measurement and interactive experience (connecting with mobile or body movement) seem to be the future of DOOH and those applications will appear on PTV’s network this year.
- Tell us your thoughts regarding the future of DOOH in Asia generally and particularly in your own country. Where is development coming from especially, and what do you see as the ‘next big thing’ in DOOH in your part of the world?
In order for Digital Signage to have a future, it needs to make money. Digital Signage becoming a media is a must process. To be proven as a media, DS needs to have a proven efficiency measurement.
Media will no longer monopolize; any enterprise can establish its own digital signage network. Between enterprises, digital signage can exchange and purchase time slots. IPTV and digital signage will integrate into an enterprise media. QR Codes will string together the whole service network.