Digital video streamed via satellite as a medium for advertising is something you would expect to happen in first world countries, but South Africa is leading the way in this dimension in advertising. Invented by small business Three Blind Mice (tbm) in Johannesburg, the concept has taken the world by storm. Pierre van der Hoven, chief executive officer of tbm, explained that the project was welcomed with open arms in London. “The concept of electronic communication is very different from the static media business. The agencies in London were very open to the idea and were completely blown away when we showed it to them,” said Van Der Hoven. More than 10 global media companies as well as a number of potential investors were given a demonstration of “its innovative visual communication solution” in London. The operation works with material that is develop on a DVD system and processed into a digital file. Digital video broadcasts the signal via satellite and it is received in a “stream, narrow cast as opposed to broadcast”. Different content can then run on different sites. On its return path it is sent via telephone feedback. The advertising network’s London demonstration involved sending “high definition DVD-quality advertising material via the Sirius satellite (which has a footprint over Europe) to a plasma screen at a temporary location in London”. Van der Hoven said: “Many of the media companies have spent millions investigating what tbm has perfected, but they have not achieved the quality and the cost-effectiveness of our solution.” Other distribution technologies currently use telephone lines from one point to another, in comparison with tbm’s solution which uses satellite and telephone as a means of distribution. The technology is much cheaper than methods currently being used, specifically for international agencies and invertors, since advertisement will be made in South Africa at a cheaper rate. Similar concepts have been developed in South Africa but none have used DVD, Van der Hoven explained. “It can be used on private television for entertainment such as advertising, and information purposes. It can also be used in closed networks for education of staff in service areas, government department and banks. Absa bank has started something similar with the screening of the services they provide aired on screen in the bank,” he said. A few of the company’s clients include Yfm radio station, Nashua Mobile and security. The 38-year-old qualified chartered accountant feels the biggest challenge for South Africa is competing in costs with overseas markets, but the potential to boost employment locally will outweigh the cost. “There is nothing else like this in the world. There are programmes that can be do animations but not full-blown video. The need is there, the technology is not. If we can invest in young graphic design students and get them to generate adverts, it will definitely have a positive impact on foreign exchange. It costs roughly R4 500 to make an electronic advertisement, which initially is a loss but eventually it works out, “he said. Van der Hoven sees the concept reaching all spheres of life “from rural areas to golf sites”.

Source: Saturday Star – Yolanda Mufweba