New York: 15:33 || London: 20:33 || Mumbai: 02:03 || Singapore: 04:33

News & Analysis » Canada

iSign Media Solutions research and analysis

March 26, 2012, Monday, 14:35 GMT | 09:35 EST | 19:05 IST | 21:35 SGT
Contributed by eResearch


iSign Media Solutions Inc. (“iSign” or the “Company”) is developing location-based interactive advertising technology. The Company provides its partners with equipment and software that is able to send promotional messages, coupons, advertisements, and rich media to nearby hand-held devices such as mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets.

iSign offers a new and strong tool for retailers to communicate efficiently with their customers and “pull” them into the stores. It does this by combining technologies like digital signage, interactive touch screens, and mobilecommunication.

The Company succeeded in successfully deploying a network of 150 Interactive Marketing Solution (IMS) units in Singapore, and is now ready to launch a network of more than 1,400 IMS units at the Mac’s Convenience Stores chain in Canada.

iSign has also grown to become the largest owner and operator of in-store digital media in Canada with 5,600 digital signs in 1,400 locations.

iSign is headquartered in Richmond Hill, Ontario, with R&D and customer support operations in Vancouver, BC and Tampa, FL.


INVESTMENT CONSIDERATIONS

Strengths
- Stands at the threshold of significant revenue generation
- Provides technology for deploying location-based advertising to mobile devices;
- Interactive Marketing Solution units, which can send advertising messages to mobile devices, are quick to implement and cheap to operate;
- Able to collect data and provide additional services such as customer interaction and behaviour analysis;
- Merger with Pinpoint Media Group Inc. gives IMS exposure to 1,400 Mac’s convenience stores in Canada;
- Trial projects with several retailers from Canada (SelectCore) and the USA (Circle K).

Challenges
- Unclear customer reaction to unwanted advertising and messages on their mobile devices: intrusion of privacy;
- Failure to extend agreement with Best Denki Co. Ltd. in Asia due to challenging conditions in advertising market;
- Overcoming limited financial resources and avoiding potential dilution from equity issuances;
- Generating sufficient revenue streams to break-even and build a profitable business.


CONCEPT

iSign is developing and distributing location-based interactive advertising technology that mainly serves advertising agencies, manufacturers, and retailers.

Retailers can use the Company’s platform to leverage and make visible their competitive strengths and advantages, as well as motivate repeat visits.

The concept is that any mobile user coming near to a store that has an iSign solution will see a pop-up message on the mobile user’s cell-phone. The message will ask permission to deliver an advertisement or propose a deal to encourage the mobile user to visit the store.

The Company’s technology allows for the broadcasting of promotional messages using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth platforms at the same time, and is set to capitalize on several trends:
- Increased penetration of mobile devices;
- Extensive use of mobile devices for Internet surfing, media content generation, online purchasing, etc;
- Rapid adoption of digital signage to deliver out-of-home advertising messages targeted to specific locations at specific times; and
- Growing consumer acceptance of mobile advertising.

iSign has also made available SMS (Short Message Service) broadcasting.

Essentially, iSign offers a new and strong tool for retailers, regardless of their size, to efficiently communicate with customers and pull them into their stores. It does this by combining technologies such as digital signage, interactive touch screens, and mobile communication.


INTERACTIVE MARKETING SOLUTION

Leveraging Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless technologies, the Company developed an Interactive Marketing Solution (IMS) unit that can render advertising messages to the majority of mobile communication devices.

The latest solution version, the Smart Antenna, comprises an all-weather antenna and a central processing unit. This unit is usually connected with an existing digital signage or point-of-sale platform running Windows, Linux, or MAC operating systems.

The Company’s software integrates retailers’ sales platforms and servers with broadcasting antennas to facilitate data capturing and real time consumer interaction. At broadband speed, an IMS unit for a small retailer can offer multi-lingual applications and content to portable devices within a range of 1 to 300 feet from the antenna.

When a mobile user enters the broadcasting range of an IMS unit, the user receives a pop-up. If the users accept the receipt of information, a message is sent to the user.

The IMS unit has the capacity to determine if any previous communication has taken place with a particular mobile device. Based on the result, the unit will decide what content to broadcast. The unit has a capacity to hold and broadcast up to 60 ten-second advertisements. The accumulated history of communication with a particular device allows the IMS unit to build and maintain a profile for each user.

As a result, the Company’s IMS unit has the ability to place promotional campaigns and attract customers, while interacting with them and measuring their responses.


DISTRIBUTION INITIATIVES

1. Best Denki Co. Ltd.

The Company has aggressively promoted its offering in recent years. It tested and installed the IMS units with retailers from Canada, the U.S.A., China, and Singapore. In 2008, it signed a major retail partner, Best Denki Co. Ltd. from Japan, which has more than 600 stores in the Middle East and Asia. The Company succeeded in deploying a network of 150 IMS units at Best Denki stores in Singapore, which generated recurring revenue streams through the end of fiscal 2011. The economic downturn resulted in reduced advertising spending and lower lower number of clients utilizing iSign IMS units in Asia. As a result, the Company decided to terminate its involvement in Asia and appointed value added resellers, AOpen and BlueStar, to take care of the Asian market.

2. Mac’s Convenience Stores Inc.

The acquisition of Pinpoint Media Group Inc. in October 2011 brought iSign the ownership of one of the largest digital signage networks in North America, with approximately 5,600 digital display units located throughout the 1,400 Mac’s Convenience Stores Inc. chain across Canada. Subsequent to the Pinpoint acquisition, the Company started the deployment of its solutions in the Mac’s chain and hopes to reach an audience of 1.5 million consumers a day. During the test phase, iSign’s IMS network was able to identify approximately 812,000 mobile devices daily with approximately 1,200 IMS units in place.

In March 2012, the Company reported that its IMS network was ready to commence live broadcasting, and that initial broadcasting will consist of messages relating to specific Mac's products and offers. Once the advertising content is delivered, iSign will be entitled to a significant stream of recurring revenue, as well as being able to earn benefits from analytical data regarding Mac’s customers.

Successful deployment of IMS units into the Mac’s chain could facilitate iSign’s entrance into the Circle K chain of stores (also owned by Mac's parent, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.). Circle K consists of approximately 4,400 outlets in the U.S.A. and international operations of approximately 3,700 licensees. The Company has already reported that it will begin the installation of IMS units in Circle K stores in the Maritimes.

3. SelectCore Ltd.

In addition to the project with Mac’s, iSign has also agreed with SelectCore Ltd. to proceed with a trial project to combine IMS software and Smart Antenna into SelectCore’s point-of-sale equipment located in 10 retail outlets across the Greater Toronto Area. If successful, the project could expose iSign to SelectCore’s retail distribution network that covers 7,000 locations across Canada and the USA. The Company estimated approximately 7 million viewers per day, if it will be able to deploy its Smart Antennas over SelectCore’s distribution chain.

4. Other Retailers

iSign has also partnered with numerous location-based advertisers, retailers, and software developers to increase awareness and visibility, as well as strengthen its offering. The Company has established international distribution channels through agreements with information technology companies, AOpen America Inc. of California, and BlueStar Inc. of Indiana.