iSIGN Media is a North American leader in multiplatform
advertising solutions that utilize Bluetooth, Mobile, WiFi and
Location-Aware technologies to deliver rich media, permission-based messages
to engage consumers more deeply and cost-effectively. The resulting business
intelligence and real time metrics, gathered through iSIGN’s patent-pending
advertising platform, deliver insights into emerging consumer behaviors that
help advertisers measure their efforts and make better business decisions to
increase ROI and customer loyalty. Headquartered in Richmond Hill, Ontario,
with R&D and customer support operations in Vancouver, BC and Tampa, FL, the
Company has grown to become the largest owner/operator of in-store digital
media in Canada with 5,600 digital signs in 1,400 locations. Partners
include: AOpen America Inc. and IBM, with solution distribution by BlueStar
Romanov, Chief Executive Officer iSIGN Media Solutions Inc.
Alex Romanov is an accomplished business executive with a
history of identifying opportunities and turning them into high growth and
profitable enterprises. Alex has diverse experience in a variety of
industries such as consumer electronics, communication, digital imaging,
video gaming, and e-commerce. Alex was the CEO and President of Alpine
Electronics in Canada for 15 years, building the company to over $50,000,000
in revenue with over 50% of the Canadian market share by 1995. After Alpine,
Alex became CEO and major shareholder of Royal Oak Marketing and was
responsible for over 100 employees and $120,000,000 in revenue. Royal Oak
Marketing was sold for $29,000,000 to an American concern. Alex then
co-founded Spherex Inc., which developed and marketed an Xbox gaming audio
system. Spherex was then sold to another US concern in 2005. Alex has been
iSIGN’s Chief Executive Officer since November 2007 and has successfully
restructured the company, positioning it for rapid growth worldwide.
iSIGN Media Solutions Inc.
45A West Wilmot Street
Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada L4B 2P2
iSIGN Media Corp.
15201 Roosevelt Blvd.
Clearwater, Florida 33760
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO
Magazine, Published – July 23, 2012
Mr. Romanov, what is the basic concept behind iSIGN Media?
iSIGN Media has a proximity marketing solution that has a patent pending
which allows our software to be loaded into laptops or digital engines that
drive digital signage, which is prevalent everywhere. Once our solution is
embedded in the host device, it will identify and communicate with mobile
devices that come within a three hundred foot range. Identification is not
by phone user name, or by their phone number, but by a twelve digit address.
This keeps it very private. It allows the advertiser to send a message to
phones free of charge asking phone users if they would like a coupon from
Coca Cola, the Gap, or any other brand. The recipient can say yes or no, and
if they accept the prompt, they will be given a coupon, or a discount that
they can take to the cash register to take advantage of the deal. The
benefits are that this is done in proximity, so it is relevant. There is a
survey and test that was done by our partner IBM, and they have qualified
that 72% of consumers, if prompted by their phone within range of a product
offer, will act on the offer.
In practical terms, how would this work?
Again, because of its range it works when you, the consumer, the customer or
the shopper comes within proximity (up to 300 feet) of the device. Once you
come within the range of the device, if you have your Bluetooth ON, and set
to be DISCOVERABLE our device will prompt you to opt-in to receive coupons
or merchandising information such as an advantage on paint, the discount on
some lumber, or even the option to join a loyalty program. The messages are
completely customizable by the retailer. In addition, it is very
interactive, and always anonymous unless if you join the loyalty program
that is be offered to you.
Would each store have its own equipment loaded at that store as opposed to a
Each store would have its own IMS (Interactive Messaging System) or SA
(Smart Antenna) hardware installed at the store location. As for the loading
of content to the devices, this is done through a back end or server that
iSIGN operates. Both iSIGN and the retailer have access to this back end.
Our newest product, the Smart Antenna works on Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth
and is also free to the recipients. The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combination
talks to almost 100% of all mobile devices that come into range including
phones and tablets.
Is this being utilized today?
We have a very large North American client named Couche-Tard, and they are
one of the world’s largest Convenience store operators. It is a company
headquartered out of Montreal. They happen to own all of the Circle-K stores
in the United States, about 5,700 locations. They also own 1,435 locations
across Canada. We have recently installed our software into each of those
locations across Canada, and have begun broadcasting after extensive
testing. The system is discovering between 1 and 2 of every 100 Canadian
citizens each month and has recently begun broadcasting messages to
shoppers. The campaign is promoted by Ashley McIvor who is a Canadian ski
champion that won the Olympics for extreme skiing in 2010. She is the icon
introducing the mobile service to Mac’s customers. We are currently getting
many positive responses to offer. Here is an impression rate of 3.8%, which
is excellent for advertising when considering the size of the audience and
low system operating cost.
Is it the proximity issue that makes iSIGN stand apart?
We focused on proximity for two reasons. In general, anything that talks to
mobile devices today is either a friend and sometimes could be a foe, but we
have no direct competition. It all started with SMS texting, which billions
of dollars were spent on, and allowed an advertiser to buy hundreds,
thousands, and millions of phone numbers, and then arbitrarily send out
messages to those phone numbers. Unfortunately, this is considered an
infraction of one’s privacy. I would feel the same way if suddenly I got a
pizza ad on my phone and I had to pay $0.35 or $0.65 to get the ad. I would
want to know where they got my phone number, how did they get it, and why I
was getting it without opting in and accepting it. That was the early world
and we call that Mobile 101, which raises privacy issues. In our case, we do
not have these problems because we have a patent pending solution that
allows users to opt-in and stores no private user data. We have partners
that recognize this such as IBM, AOpen America Inc., and Telus, which is a
cellular provider in Canada. We are doing a great deal of work with major
companies in the states that are all looking at our solution. We recently
opened an office in Clearwater to handle these enquiries, and we have been
selling licenses for our software to a company in Boston and to a company in
Australia. We also have two more resellers coming on board in both the
United States and in Canada. So it is not only the proximity issue that
sets us apart, it is also the respect of privacy to the recipient. You must
opt in or out when you are prompted with a message. If you opt out or select
no you do not want to receive the message we will not prompt you a second
time for that message.
What is the revenue model?
The revenue model is very simple, even though in the case of Couche-Tard, or
Mac’s Convenience Stores Inc., we are identifying approximately 500,000
devices per month out of the 1435 locations, we charge a simple monthly fee.
The fee is roughly $90-$100 per month per location. This allows us to run
our system, host it, maintain it, and keep the data for the customer. It
allows us to update it, support content in any language, and send unlimited
content through the system. We only count on the monthly fee as our revenue.
That is quite reasonable!
It is extremely reasonable compared to regular traditional advertising. For
example, you can put one of our systems into a store, and they do not even
have to buy the hardware, and we have examples of single stores in
restaurants where they are paying us a $150 a month to run the system for
them. We run the system for them, it costs them about $1800 a year, and you
cannot do much advertising of any kind traditionally for $1800. With our
system, we can guarantee them that they will reach anywhere from one and a
half to two million mobile devices during the year, if they have good
content and are making good offers. We have restaurants that are paying $150
a month and getting three to four hundred people walking in with a coupon on
their phones saying that they
take that offered table by the window or they
take that buy-one-get-one glass of wine. It is generating customers,
revenue, and they have a measured ROI.
With essentially a limitless market, how do you target potential customers,
and how do you target those you wish to reach?
We operate globally, we have an office in Vancouver, Toronto, and
Clearwater, and we even have development resources in Indonesia. We attend
about ten trade shows per year, which can be anywhere from Asia to Europe,
throughout the US, Great Britain, and so on. Each time that we attend these
trade shows, we pick up clients, potential clients, and customers. We work
with them through trade shows, advertising, promotion, and of course people
like our partners IBM, Telus, AOpen America Inc. and Acer Computers all
promote us. The people that buy our licenses such as an ad agency in
Australia are promoting us throughout Australia and Indonesia, and we have
others that we are working in Europe as well that will be announced shortly.
They will be promoting us in key countries in Europe.
iSIGN Media Solutions recently began trading on the OTC QX. What is the
benefit and why was this the right time?
We had been trading on the Toronto TSX Venture Exchange, which is 90%
resource based and we are a pure software solution, high tech company, with
high tech partners. However, that is the only market that we qualified for
and we were proud to be there, because it did help us to keep up with our
large partners. We raised funding to operate, although we are starting to
get revenue now; however, it is still not covering fully our operating
costs. Therefore our choice to go into the United States market was simple.
The US has a much greater appreciation of technology. In addition, the
audience is ten times larger than the Canadian market and we are not hemmed
in by reaching only the resource market in the United States. We have many
peers in the US that are start-ups and that are small high tech companies.
Therefore, we feel that we will fare much better in the US once we start
Why should investors pay attention to iSIGN Media Solutions today?
Mr. Romanov: I would pay attention today
because we are seriously under priced for what we do in business, and what
we are doing with our major partners. All of our partners are billion dollar
partners, and we are a $20-$25 million company. We have a patent pending, we
are promoted by our partners to their large clients, and there is a major
shift where all of existing traditional advertising such as print, TV,
radio, and magazines. Everything is shifting toward the mobile device
because it is in everyone’s pocket. There are about two billion TVs on
earth, and there are six billion mobile phones on earth. Therefore, if you
are going to advertise to anyone, advertise to the mobile phone, because
people are culturally bred to pick it up whether it is a Twitter, as SMS
message or a phone call, they will answer their phone in the car, on foot
and at home. It is the first thing people look at in the morning and the
last thing people see at night before they put it away. Mobile devices are
the new advertising vehicle, and our solution is perfect for that because it
is relevant, private, of no charge to the recipient, and very low cost for
anyone utilizing it.
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