Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale on digital signage!

If you live outside of the US, you might not know that this coming Friday (the day after our Thanksgiving holiday, which always falls on the fourth Thursday in November) is the so-called Black Friday, when retailers pull out all the stops to get you started on your holiday shopping in hopes of moving out of the red and into the black. A typical Black Friday scenario looks something like this:
  1. Drag yourself away from the table after stuffing yourself with far too much turkey, cranberry sauce, cake pie, and other holiday goodness.
  2. Get in the car at around 10:30 PM.
  3. Drive to the Walmart/Best Buy/Target/Macy's or other store that you have picked as your primary Black Friday target after carefully weighing its location versus the population of the surrounding area, and the outside temperature.
  4. Wait in line until about midnight.
  5. Push you way through hoards of other shoppers to get one of the 5 $199 plasma TVs or $50 Egyptian cotton sheet sets (or whatever else) that the store has been advertising for 3 weeks, but hasn't bothered to stock any more of.
  6. Leave with a sense of ultimate victory (if you're one of the lucky few), or, more likely, a bitter taste in your mouth and a bunch of bruises from where you got crushed by the aforementioned hoards.
In short, it's basically a combination of typical holiday shopping and American Gladiators.

The Monday after Thanksgiving Day has now been relabeled "Cyber Monday", as it's the day when everybody (ostensibly) goes back to work after the long holiday weekend, and proceeds to spend the entire day online shopping for deals.  It's the more laid back, refined way to shop like a crazy person, even if its name lacks the pirate-esque panache of "Black Friday."

Back here at HQ we were thinking about how we wanted to approach this holiday season -- normally a less-busy time than the August-November period preceeding it, and decided that consumer products companies shouldn't have all the fun. So we decided to do a Black Friday/ Cyber Monday deal of our own for our Digital Signage EasyStart product.  There's precious little data out there on whether such short-term promotions work on B2B products (honestly, how many B2B "impulse purchases" have you  made in the past 5 years?), but we figured it's worth trying out. Here's our ad:

While I'm not normally a fan of discounting, I have to admit that if I were a business buyer, I'd be pretty psyched about getting a deal by just playing along with some silly American tradition.

In any event, if you or anyone you know does happen to be looking for a digital signage player  or interactive kiosk for small networks, just click on the ad above, file an info request, and finalize your purchase by next Friday, and you automatically qualify for the deal.

If not, it's OK, I still like you.  Just not as much as before.

So happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US. And to everyone else, happy rest-of-the-week!

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

PlayByPee encourages radio listening

I'm having trouble deciding whether this is brilliant or insane, but it's definitely unique.  AdAge reported a few days ago about a decidedly #1 way to promote sports radio:
Canadian sports radio station AM640 wanted to promote its live commentary of ice hockey games. To show fans how exciting audio can be, it installed a poster over a urinal that provides commentary of the person doing their business.

The radio station targeted a toilet it knew would be full of ice hockey fans -- the one at Air Canada Bowl. When a fan approached, an excitable commentary lifted from an ice hockey game -- but one equally applicable to taking a pee -- began to play. Lines such as "He's approaching the bowl" played in an audio clip culminating with an ecstatic cry of satisfaction from the commentator.

This isn't the first time that people have tried to bring some kind of digital advertising to the urinal. In fact, I've have a couple of clients who have been putting up digital screens in men's rooms for quite some time. Heck, we've even seen interactive games where men are instructed to pee in certain places/directions to "drive" a car on a screen. (Ostensibly this was done to test whether the player was too drunk to drive home from the pub, but c'mon, we all know the truth).

Personally, I'm not too sure how I'd react to a play-by-play of stepping up to the urinal.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wireless Ronin (RNIN), running out of money, asks public for more

After reviewing Wireless Ronin's quarterly statement yesterday, I noticed that they're down to a bit less than a year's worth of cash -- at least their current, totally ridiculous burn rate of something like $700K/month.

Consequently, I was not at all surprised to see this announcement pop up that they're now seeking an additional $6.7M by selling new shares at $2.90/apiece to an anonymous investor.

What I want to know is, honestly, who's going to invest in them at this point? Their model is broken, as is evidenced by the fact that they're getting further and further into the "consulting" by doing software development and content production projects. And believe me, there's nothing wrong with that at all. But that's a very different business than the digital signage game, one that's very hard to scale, and (amazingly) one that's even more crowded with competitors than the digital signage software space.

Still, I'm jaded to the point where I expect this round of funding will close, the firm will get a stay of execution, and will once again not have to make the difficult decisions, like:

1. Really slashing their headcount. RNIN ought to be able to get by (on those revenues, at least) with a headcount of 15-20 people, not 4-5x that number. It's not fashionable to talk about layoffs these days, I know. But as a publicly-traded entity RNIN is accountable to their shareholders first. Which is why they probably out to think about...

2. Going private. Yup, it's also not fashionable, but at this point I have to imagine that RNIN's ticker symbol is hurting more than helping when they go to pitch big deals. Admittedly, being public (and apparently having a totally genius financial adviser) gives them the ability to back for money over, and over, and over, and... well, you get the picture.

3. Giving their cash to me. There, I said it. I'm certain I could put it to good use :)