South Africa’s success in its bid to host the 2010 soccer World Cup has galvanised digital media company TBM in its efforts to develop an electronic communication network for tourists. Recognising that tourists do not consume typical media, the company plans to establish a network of plasma screens at tourist hot-spots, such as uShaka Marine Reserve in Durban, Robben Island and Gold Reef City. These could inform and entertain tourists with information (and advertising) specific to them.
TBM already has 700-odd plasma screens up and around the country – including Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town airports, Virgin Active clubs and golf courses.
The company has developed a clever technology solution that allows it to deliver large video films to each of these uniquely identifiable and individually controlled screens. This means that each of its 700 screens could broadcast different information at the same time. It can also change the information at the drop of a hat.
At the time of the company’s launch five years ago, this satellite broadcast technology introduced a step change in “out of home” TV advertising.
Most in-store TV advertising was run off video cassettes that were manually loaded and updated and as a result tended to be dull.
TBM has remained ahead of the curve by introducing split-screen messaging, which allows a site to broadcast its main content on one part of the screen while running advertising alongside it and a five ticker-tape feed underneath it.
Despite this progress, TBM CEO Pierre van den Hoven admits the company has lost its global technology advantage. What it has done, though, is develop and mature numerous business applications for its technology solution which are adjusted according to clients’ needs.
It is this insight that has drawn UK retailer Tesco to SA to investigate the possibility of a local partnership. Tesco has recognised that 75% of purchasing decisions are made in-store and has entered this market aggressively. By the end of this year it will have 400 stores connected to an in-store TV network. Then it will work on taking 1% of the retail advertising spend away from other media.
Meanwhile, TBM, which is 75% owned by empowerment firm HCI, will continue to work on convincing local advertisers of the product’s efficacy.

Source: Financial Mail – Innovations