Gail Chiasson, North American Editor
This month in the ‘CEO Spotlight’, we welcome Alberto Montezuma, Chief Executive Officer of Ya Mogu, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- Your network integration systems are now in bars, coffee houses, foodcourts, bookstores, corporate intranets, and I believe that you are getting into transit. Which do you see as having the greatest growth potential for Ya Mogu, and why?
The greatest potentials are the fast food companies (menu boards) and corporate internal communications. These two segments can have a better evaluation of the digital signage short term benefits. We believe that this is particularly true in times of economic crisis, when media-based projects tend to be negatively impacted to a greater extent, due to the usual budget cut decisions regarding advertising.
- You are now working on a new project for buses. How advanced is that? Will you manage digital signage on the outside of buses as well as internal digital screens? And. speaking of transit, are you hoping or planning to get into Rio’s two subway lines, as well?
Each county is establishing new legal requirements for digital signage operations in public transportation and this is delaying the process quite a bit. Besides, the investors are reviewing their budgets, considering the overall economic situation. As of now, digital signage on the outside of buses is not being considered by the advertising market. In regards to the subway, our expectations are very low at the moment.
- I understand that you are also working with groups in Paraguay and other South American countries to help develop digital signage. Is your involvement financial, educational, part of Ya Mogu’s strategy to expand to other countries?
Ya Mogu has a training program for the users of the software that we represent in South America and we do not foresee to expand to other countries in the short range.
- In the same vein, you seem to be involved in installation management, operations, advertising sales through a partner that I believe you own (or funded?), content management, and more, in these various locales. Some companies seem to concentrate in one or two sectors. Is Ya Mogu spreading itself too thin – especially in the current economy?
Our primary activity at the moment is as ASP and content suppliers. We develop some specific content for our clients and also supply content acquired from third parties.
- I recently attended a digital out-of-home conference in Canada where participants said that 50% of their time is taken up with educating people about digital out-of-home. I notice that Ya Mogu’s Web site gives an extensive explanation of digital signage. Is Brazil, and South America in general, more or less advanced in digital OOH or still in its infancy? Is education still a key factor for your company?
Sometimes I feel like running a nursery, considering that digital OOH is still in its infancy, in Brazil and in South America. On the other hand, this baby is growing fast and is getting bigger and bigger. There is no doubt that, in order to have a consistent growth, education is key in this process.
- I know that Sao Paulo has eliminated billboards, digital signage, and other out-of-home advertising. What is Rio’s government’s attitude towards them and has there been any movement to do anything like this in Rio or other cities in Brazil? What limits have been imposed or are foreseen in the future that might inhibit the growth of digital out-of-home use in Brazil?
Rio’s government attitude towards out-of-home advertising might be similar to Sao Paulo’s, but with more flexibility. It has considered eliminating billboards but no action has been taken, and new regulations are being negotiated with advertising professionals. In Sao Paulo, billboards were a real problem and the city has different characteristics from Rio.
I believe that billboards could be eliminated in Rio, but I see no restrictions for digital signage. It is our understanding that DOOH has enough ground to grow in tourist sites (real ones, not virtual), and could promote other sites and provide important information for tourists, in general. For instance, you could have screens in the Sugar Loaf area advertising other interesting locations for tourists such as hotels, how to call a taxi, etc.
There is no doubt that some limits will be imposed for DOOH, primarily concerning visual/environmental pollution, and we support it. It is in the market’s hands to develop a self-regulation for the use of DOOH, in order to have government authorities’ support for it.
- You developed a system called Ya Mobile that integrates digital signage with cellular phones, which seems to be a platform for social media that allows images from cell phones and SMS messages – and comments on same – to be displayed on screens. How and where is it used?
The Ya Mobile can be used for fun, in bars, restaurants, special events and others, as well as being a market research tool. It is in the early stages and is facing a constant development.
- Is the DOOH sector being developed mainly from scratch in Brazil, or are you and your competitors traveling a lot to North America and Europe to learn and bring back product ideas? (I notice that Electromidia decided to forego its own software and adopted LabOne’s Media iBox digital signage system).
Globalization is a fact that nobody can ignore. There is a constant interchange of experiences and ideas, either through the Internet or travelling, mainly to digital signage expositions, seminars, and others.
There are several software developers here in Brazil, and it makes the competition even more interesting.
- I see that Brazil has a lot of DOOH companies (Electromidia in large outdoor signs; Indoormidia in airports; POS Vision in retail; Rain Networks in movie theatres, etc.). How much opportunity is there for growth in Brazil, or must you look outside for growth opportunities. Or are there opportunities for growth by acquisition in your own country?
Brazil has almost 200 million inhabitants; has one of the top 10 economies in the world; has a solid banking system; and should grow about 2.5% this year – a good result considering the overall recession in the world’s economy. If you consider that the DOOH sector is in its infancy in the country, the opportunities for growth are fantastic.
- Several foreign companies including Premier Retail Networks, American Mobile Billboard, eTech, Minicom Advanced Systems, Clear Channel, Hughes Network, and National Mobile Billboards, have also moved in and are offering products and services in Brazil. Are these major competition for the home-grown market? Is it important for the players in the Brazilian market to advance their own cause? And if so, how might they do that?
Some of these companies are serious competitors, but some Brazilian companies, either with foreign software or proprietary, with a strong financial support, can face this competition with some advantage.
The higher flexibility of local and smaller companies allows the development of creative and affordable solutions. It really makes a difference.