Location-aware ad firm expanding to 6,600 U.S. convenience stores

Toronto-based iSign Media Solutions is expanding its location-aware advertising platform to some 6,600 convenience stores in the United States.

The digital signage company recently signed a letter of intent with Metro LED Sign and Light for the installation of iSigns's smart antennas into Metro's client base in the southeastern U.S.

Metro is expected to order 1,200 of iSign's location-aware ad devices, with immediate delivery of 120 antennas planned for testing and demonstration purposes upon receipt of the order. The initial shipment will enable testing in Houston, Dallas and Austin, Texas; Memphis, Tenn.; and Atlanta.

Metro and GraphicMedia, iSign's national distributor, is building an advertising footprint under the brand name of the National Mobile Network.

ISign provides retailers with an antenna that broadcasts a signal in a roughly 300-foot radius. The device is built in Syracuse, NY, by Seneca Data, Alex Romanov, iSign CEO, told FierceBroadbandWireless.

"Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are used to identify any mobile device that comes within proximity of the broadcasting device, which we call our smart antenna," explained Romanov. "We use Wi-Fi for iPhones and Bluetooth for every other phone."

When the antenna detects sees a new phone within range, an advertising offer is delivered via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth--not SMS--which a customer has the option to reject, either on an individual or permanent basis. "The chances of you acting on the offer because it's in proximity are as high as 72 percent according to surveys done by our partner IBM," said Romanov.

He said iSign's revenue stream includes $600 for programming and installing a PC at each target site. The company then charges a flat fee of $5 a day per unit to host, maintain and provide the captured data.

ISign's system is being used in 200 gas stations in Indiana, where customers are offered 10 cents off a gallon of gas. That offer has gotten a 32 percent response rate, said Romanov.

In addition, iSign has operated its system in the Mac's chain of convenience stores across Canada for 18 months. "We have been identifying 1 million phones a day," he said.  

Romanov said iSign had to reassure the chain that iSign's system does not violate customer privacy. All the gathered information is anonymous, though iSign does identify and record individual devices' MAC address, he said.

ISign has reported that its existing networks are already gathering some .25 terabytes of raw data per day, including date and time of interactions; length of time spent in proximity to iSign's equipment; and messages sent and responded to. That type of data will be useful to advertisers, retailers and others, said Romanov.

For more:
- see this iSign release

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