This month, we welcome Chris Polos. While not technically a CEO, as vice-president of media at global payments giant VeriFone Systems Inc., Polos is the driving force behind one of the largest digital out-of-home networks worldwide.
- Why did you join the DPAA?
The ad supported digital signage industry is still young and growing. We joined the DPAA in order to build a closer relationship with all the key players in the industry and to help continue building awareness around the value of the category.
- What changes have you seen since aligning with NBC for content?
NBC has shown a great commitment to the platform. We work very close with the nationwide local media teams on content and sales. They are very effective at championing the platform across the rest of the NBC Universal network.
- How has having dual channels, one for NBC and the other for New York City itself, worked out? Are you seeing a preference for one or the other in general or in certain demographic groups?
The dual channels are working well. We want to provide taxi riders with as much choice as possible. The NBC channel is what plays at start up and is the main set of content, so it definitely gets the highest percentage of viewing time. But the feedback we are getting on the second channel and the overall upgrade to our platform that we made last September has been very positive.
That upgrade was very important for us because we can now integrate interactive features, including e-commerce and social media. The dual channels are only the beginning of some of the exciting new things you will see in taxis over the near term.
- You have a solution for gas stations and cabs. How else could you see your solution being used?
VeriFone operates in three key verticals, transportation, petroleum/convenience store and retail. While you know about the taxis, and are starting to see us pop up more and more at gas stations, we certainly have ambitions to find the right solution for targeted advertising in the retail environment – where VeriFone card payment systems account for roughly two-thirds of installations – and beyond.
- As a company with an exciting product, why is VeriFone so quiet? It seems that you could be a major innovation in the digital signage industry.
Our technical and business model innovation, I believe, already puts us as a major innovator in the digital signage space. And, our roadmap for growth in this space will make that even more apparent in the near future. Given that we are, in fact, growing so fast, we don’t feel the need to issue a torrent of press releases. Also, as part of a global public company, there are many other things we are constantly speaking about to the press.
- Last year, VeriFone Media made a big splash at ScreenMediaExpo in London with London Cab screens, yet we haven’t heard much about that since. Where does the U.K. market stand for you now?
We’re in a major ramp up mode with installations right now. Feedback has been tremendous, taxi riders seem to really love it, and advertisers are really excited about it, especially with the London Olympics right around the corner.
- When can we expect to see VeriFone flex its muscles beyond the U.S.?
It’s already happening. You mentioned London, but we have our sights set on a variety of locations that are still under development. As a global company, VeriFone has offices all over the world, so it is relatively easy to get off the ground running.
- Can Near Field Communications play any role with in-cab advertising?
Absolutely. NFC will have a major impact for both mobile and out-of-home advertising. An average cab ride is north of 12 minutes in almost every major market around the world – which is a lot of time to provide useful messaging to someone. NFC will enhance an already valuable media experience by making it even easier to download location-based coupons, share content or even just pay for the ride!
Tell us a bit about your strategy and your priorities for 2012? At which shows do you plan to exhibit?
2012 will be about growing our domestic digital taxi presence, expanding in petrol and retail, and continuing our expansion internationally. We do plan to attend a number of events including the DSE, DPAA and OAAA.
- What are the possibilities for commerce directly using in-cab screens?
VeriFone is the leader in electronic payments, so commerce is always central to our strategies. Our platform upgrade late last year has made commerce a real possibility. We have some exciting ideas on which we plan to work closely with the local taxi authorities including the New York Taxi & Limousine Commission to help bring to life.
- What do you think of aggregators such as, eg. VUKUNET? Do they have any place in your business?
There is definitely room for an aggregator(s) with the right business model. In the online space, there are hundreds of aggregators but the Web has some unique characteristics which allow them to scale. We do believe an aggregator can help us as we grow.
- Where do you foresee VeriFone Media by year 2015?
While I can’t get too specific here, I feel very confident in saying VeriFone Media will be a much bigger division within VeriFone than it is today.
What do you think it needs to do to become more prominent in media planners and buyers minds? And in the minds of consumers?
Our story is all about accountable media, that’s why we coined the term Payment Enabled Media. We believe the efficacy of the platform speaks for itself – meaning impressions happen when there is a verifiable transaction. There is never a dispute over delivery.
Our real goal is to continue getting the word out to media planners and buyers that our platforms are reaching the right audience and that we are delivering value. We keep doing that effectively and they will take notice.