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 hi-tech advertising space for R1000 a month. The agency has created a private, DVD-based “television network” by installing 50 slimline TV sets called “plasma screens” in strategic point-of-purchase (POP) locations all over the country. Three-dimensional, animated 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 environment.” The new-generation, 1 m x 60 cm 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 in-house studio. The final product is then encoded and broadcast 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 them the edge. For R1000 a month, 10 second ads run at least six times in an hour on a single screen. So if a screen in one location is 100% sold in a 10 hour day site – in a shopping center for instance – then 1800 10 second commercials will be flighted in a month at a cost of 55c a slot. “Since screen are strategically placed in high-traffic and long dwell areas, it is almost impossible for consumers not to view the materials,” 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 concept is Liza Reynolds, who opened her own air chartering business, Airnet aviation, two years ago at Lanseria airport. Reynolds took out a six month advertising contract with TBM for the plasma screen at Lanseria airport. Using a sticker with the company logo, the staff at TBM created and animated 10 second advert for Airnet. “The advert I took already paid for itself”, she says. “Within the first month two peole 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 when the screen caught her eye. The next time she came to South Africa she brought her business to me.” Van der Hoven says: ” In Africa, very few peole possess their own TVs, so often the first visual images they will be confronted with are billboards or plasma screens.” Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI), a JSE-listed 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: Saturday Star – Claudia Mpeta