This summary provides highlights and directions of dynamic media in Canada, noting upcoming Canadian education and gathering events.
Canada has had a long-standing focus on media technologies including media protocols, videotext/videodisk, and software for post-production, animation, educational product and game authoring. This has led to supply leadership in the content management software that is central to digital signage and dynamic place-based media operations. Virtually all of the software providers, which collectively drive every major network in North America are Canadian firms or have engineering operations in Canada.
As supply has matured, so has the end user market, which has listened over many years (some as many as 10 years) to supply propositions and “education” by suppliers. The end user’s need to comprehend the entire technology ecosystem and the business models underpinning the profitable use of the media, has often resulted in the end user being more knowledgeable of the entire media proposition than the suppliers of network components from which they have heard.
Market forces: Over the past 18 months many of the largest organizations in industry vertical markets of Canada’s highly consolidated economy (i.e. banking, food services, retail, health care, stadiums, etc.) have launched dynamic signage initiatives. While many of these are emerging, early stage initiatives, they signal two important market dynamics.
One market force is that the selection and use of the medium by large organizations in market verticals could be expected to motivate the next largest firms and aspiring organizations in these vertical markets to move forward with their own initiatives.
A second market pressure is the requirement on the part of contracted suppliers and the inherent technology infrastructure to deliver intended value, lest these be replaced by apparently better options.
Supply side maturity and changes could be expected to accelerate Canadian market growth. In particular:
• The integration of very highly regarded Digital Display and Communications (DDC) when acquired by Cineplex has been successful. The multiple industry award-winning DDC earned an extremely positive reputation for quality service and customer value, even being recognized with an industry Judges Choice DIGI Award for its innovative supply/service business model. The firm now approaches its marketing carrying the Cineplex Digital Solutions banner and is augmented by broader Cineplex capabilities such as media production, ad sales, multi-channel marketing options, brand and facility relationships, etc.
• The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of BroadSign in early March 2012 is intended to strengthen the firm. BroadSign gained “first mover” advantage in providing its content management software (CMS) in monthly subscription operating environment delivered in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) supply model. The firm has 30,000 subscriptions in a client base of over 140 networks, including 20 in Canada. In the firm’s ongoing operations, a pre-planned software release is scheduled for mid April and the firm expects to emerge from bankruptcy proceedings by the end of May.
• The asset exchange of Sharp’s Audio Visual Canada and AVW-TELAV better positions Canada’s predominant provider of audio visual equipment rental and services to offer and supply dynamic signage networks to its client and prospect base. AVW-TELAV President Johanne Belanger has been monitoring digital signage maturity from her many vantage points, including that of international director of the AV/IT industry trade association InfoComm International and as a member of the executive team of The Freeman Company, one of North America’s largest conference and special events production services providers. AVW-TELAV’s past digital signage successes with Toyota and others, and its newly acquired capabilities make the firm an important new supply force in the Canada market.
• The partnership of Telus and Stratacache (Dayton and Montreal-based) announced in late September 2011 has been advancing. The significant base of existing corporate clients and dynamic media experience allow this “equal yoking” to offer high market value. The marrying of technologies including social media, wireless, digital signage and innovative media presentation offers high value.
Canadian firms generally fare very well in international dynamic media award competitions, as was the case with the recent Digital Screenmedia Association (DSA) Industry Excellence Awards announced last week.
- Pinpoint Media (which operates the Mac's Convenience Stores place-based media network) was named Best Retail Deployment – Mobile for its integration of iSign Smart Antenna to support simple user interaction using the built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities of their mobile devices so that they could get info on products and services within proximity.
- The “X2O Rogers Cup Experience” was named Best Entertainment Deployment – Mobile for the tablet app for use by guests of the Cisco Systems hospitality suites.
Winners of the APEX Awards announced March 9th during Digital Signage Expo held in Las Vegas included: Radio-Canada/Telecine Multimedia, CTV, Montérégie Tourism Association, Oxford Properties Group/Scarborough Town Centre.
Canadians have a propensity for collaboration. Nowhere is this more illustrated than in industry gathering and education events. Through these supply maturity is advanced, end users gain both comfort and competence, and mutually beneficial knowledge-based relationships emerge between suppliers and buyers. The past year has seen important market-influencing developments in this area.
• The Toronto-headquartered Location-Based Marketing Association (LBMA) has been successfully launched internationally and its events in Canada significantly contribute to the discourse on location-based and location-aware marketing.
• The Canadian Out-of-Home Digital Association (CODACAN) has recently broadened its objectives beyond increasing the use of existing networks by advertisers, to include advancement of the use of the media by all potential uses for patron, visitor, staff, student and corporate communications.
• The dx3 Canada conference held in Toronto in late January included primary suppliers in areas of social, local and mobile (SoLoMo) marketing such as Facebook, PayPal, MediaCom, Starcom, LBMA and many others. It offered some of the best conference sessions available in North America on primary elements of digital marketing, and the success of this first effort suggests that dx3 Canada will become one of the important events on the digital media landscape. Plan to attend March 6-7, 2013.
Numerous educational events to advance the understanding and application of dynamic place-based media are planned in Canada. Following are a few that merit time and attention. See my website or the links below to these and other industry events – See you there!
• The Strategy Institute Brand Activation Summit will be held April 25-26 at the Metropolitan Hotel. With the convergence of digital media platforms, advertisers and brands can take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital integration of place-based media for more direct and engaging message delivery that offers a better value proposition to brand strategies. Use code BUNN20 to enjoy a 20% registration discount.
• The “Digital Media in Canada” webinar series hosted by Lyle Bunn will launch on April 19 from 1-2 pm. The first in the webinar, desktop training series will focus on “The Pilot” as a primary project stage and foundation to digital signage success. Contact webinar sponsors Scala Canada and LG Electronics Canada for more info.
• The Location-Based Marketing Association (LBMA) April 18 from 3-7 pm meeting at the KPMG / Bay Adelaide Center titled “Geofencing - A GeoSocial World” will feature Alexis Zamkow of Canada Post, who has worked in Canada and the U.S. on analytic and technology assignments for companies such as Direct Energy, Scotiabank, Sears, Petro-Canada, Nissan and GTE. She will then join a panel discussion with John Fisher, DMTI Spatial; Vivek Srivastava, Yelp Canada and Mark Dykstra, Maponics with moderating by LBMA founder Asif Khan.
• CODACAN Summit May 17, from 2-5 pm, will be followed by the popular annual CODACAN “Adlympics.” A date has not yet been set for the second annual “Soiree Nu” in Montreal. These offer Canadian media learning, networking and fun at it’s best!
“The entry deadline is May 4th for this year’s National Sign Competition, which, as in the past, has a category dedicated to digital signage,” says Peter Saunders, editor, Sign Media Canada.