Back in 2007 iSign, which was a digital signage company with about fifty installations in Vancouver, developed a method of using the Bluetooth frequency to broadcast content from the sign to mobile phones that came within proximity. Last week, the company announced it had finalized a deal with Mac’s convenience stores to create what it says will be the “…world’s largest fully interactive digital signage network.
The deal will allow Mac’s to acquire three millions shares of iSign at fifty cents, and the company has the option of acquiring up to 5% of all iSign shares. Mac’s parent company, Alimentation Couche-Tard, which was founded in Laval in 1980, is one of the largest company-owned convenience store operators in the world, with up to 6,000 stores across Canada, the United States, Mexico, Japan, China, Indonesia and even Guam.
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Alex Romanov, iSign’s CEO said “We are pleased to have this agreement signed and in place,” adding “With the agreement now signed, we can fully expedite the launch of iSign’s software and antennas throughout the Mac’s chain and expand upon our metrics-gathering trials and testing with additional equipment.”
Romanov bought iSign in 2007 after, among other things, building Alpine Electronics to $50 million in revenue, and ownership of half the Canadian car audio market in the eighties and part of the nineties. The company began trading on the TSX Venture Exchange in 2009.
iSign says it will reach an average of 1.5 million consumers a day in Mac’s stores, plus the reach generated by its software and equipment to consumers in the vicinity of each store.
Proximity advertising is an emerging tech trend. The idea, to use the Bluetooth capability of your Smartphone to receive permission based messages from retailers, is already challenging traditional advertising methods in Asia, where the technology has been in use for years.
Leading media industry analyst Gordon Borrell believes local mobile advertising is set for steep growth as dollars increasingly flow to mobile devices. He predicts a sharp uptick in “proximity” marketing because tools like Bluetooth and Near Field Communication are becoming more commonplace. Borrell projects spending in the area will grow from $272 million in 2011 to $8.3 billion in 2016.
At press time shares of iSign Media Solutions were were up 3.2% to $.485 cents.