From modest offices in Rosebank, Johannesburg, tbm (three blind mice) Communications, a new digital media company, is changing the face of advertising.

Using the latest in DVD and satellite technology, this fledgling company has managed to lower the entry level into the global market for small entrepreneurs by offering hitech advertising space for R1 000 a month.

The agency has created a private, DVDbased “television network” by installing 50 slimline TV sets, called “plasma screens”, at strategic points of purchase (POP) all over the country.

Threedimensional, animated video or static advertisements are continuously flighted on these screens. The broadcasting is controlled via satellite from the Rosebank base.

“International research reveals that 70 percent of purchasing decisions are made in the store,” says Pierre van der Hoven, the chief executive of tbm. “tbm is taking marketing into the environment where people make these decisions.

“Marketing has traditionally been in people’s homes or cars but for the first time electronic media is being taken into the POP environment.”

The newgeneration, 1m x 60cm indoor plasma screens represent the latest in global display technology with the highest possible visibility. A DVD authoring suite, one of four on the continent, is part of tbm’s inhouse studio. The final product is then encoded and transmitted to the plasma screens via the Intelsat satellite.

The flexibility of this technology allows advertisers to target information to specific locations and to change the content of the adverts instantly, at any point. But it’s probably the affordability of the system that gives tbm the edge. For R1 000 a month, 10second ads run at least six times an hour on a single screen.

So if a screen in one location is 100 percent sold in a 10hour day site – in a shopping centre, for instance – then 1 800 10second commercials will be flighted in a month at a cost of 55c a slot. “Since screens are strategically placed in hightraffic and longdwell areas, it is almost impossible for consumers not to view the material,” says Van der Hoven. “Niche targeting ensures that `media wastage’ can be kept to a minimum.”

One client who is more than satisfied with the tbm concept is Liza Reynolds, who opened her own air chartering business, Airnet Aviation, two years ago at Lanseria airport. Reynolds took out a sixmonth advertising contract with tbm for the plasma screen at Lanseria airport. Using a sticker with the company logo, the staff at tbm created an animated10second advert for Airnet.

“The contract I took has already paid for itself,” she says. “Within the first month two people who visited the airport came in for a quote. The first booking paid for the six months of advertising. “One lady was waiting in the main terminal for another charter company when the screen with my ad caught her eye. The next time she came to South Africa she brought her business to me.”

Van der Hoven says: “We aim to roll out some 3 000 screens in South Africa in the next 12 months, while creating a presence … on the African continent.

“In Africa, very few people possess their own TVs, so often the first visual images they will be confronted with are billboards or our plasma screens.”

Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI), a JSElisted black economic empowerment company, owns 48 percent of tbm and Limitless, a venture capital company, and tbm’s management own the remaining 58 percent.

Source: Business Report