Gail Chiasson, North American Editor
I think that many readers already know Phil Cohen from his rants via Cohen on Content, but Cohen is really a very astute businessman: president and CEO heading and further developing networks under his Care Media Holdings, part of the industry’s most profitable verticals, the healthcare industry.
Cohen – also currently vice-chairman of the Digital Signage Federation – will be speaking at the Digital Signage Investment Conference in New York on Day Two at 2 p.m., and if anyone can talk about what makes healthcarenetworks successful (read profitable) it’s Cohen.
He intends to focus on the dynamics of healthcare that contribute to digital signage success.
“I’ll provide a real understanding of what goes in to the healthcare vertical strategy as a means of helping people to plan their own digital signage investments with success,” says Cohen
We asked Cohen his views regarding the possibilities of mergers among healthcare verticals.
“There would be hurdles to overcome,” says Cohen. “First of all, different networks use different software platforms. It might cost a company more to convert their platforms, to buy new media players and so forth, than it would to build a new network.
“Then there’s the content, the advertising. Is the company profitable? A lot of merger conversations are between companies who aren’t making money, and they think that by merging, the might reduce their overhead. Actually, it might even negate the cash flow. There’s a lot to look at. In the short run, I can’t foresee a lot of mergers, at least until the economy gets better.”
Cohen says, “Healthcare isn’t just one vertical. It’s an umbrella name. Networks in hospitals – mainly for wayfinding and for staff communications – are very different from those in doctors’ offices which are mainly for patient information. And then there are all the specialists: oncology. obstetrics, pediatrics, and many more. Mergers here would be merging different brands.”
In the current economy, advertisers have to be very laser-targeted, Cohen says. When the economy is good, then advertisers can more easily buy across the whole umbrella, but when times are tight, you must really target.
We also asked Cohen about expansion of healthcare networks from the U.S. to other countries.
“It’s very difficult,” he says. “Even as close as they are, between Canada and the US would be difficult. The Canadian Medical Association’s protocols are very different from those in the U.S.. And in the U.K., the English spoken differs from the American, so you couldn’t even use the same content to speak to patients in waiting rooms without revision. And as for Europe, where there are dozens of languages and dozens of protocols, it would be almost impossible.”
This guys knows of which he speaks. Don’t miss Cohen – especially if you have the slightest interest in the healthcare sector. We expect many of the lessons learned could also be applied to other verticals.