Behind the Curtain: An interview with iSign Media
Time for another round of good ol’ fashioned peeking behind the curtain. Sometimes we like to give you guys an inside look at what happens within a developer or service provider. Once in a while, though, we like to learn a bit about where things might be headed in terms of how we use our devices. Such is the case with our latest interview, Alex Romanov of iSign Media. These guys are on the front of a new way of advertising and mobile shopping that we think you’ll appreciate. That said, we don’t want to spoil anything.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us! Please, introduce yourself and briefly describe iSIGN Media
I’m Alex Romanov, Chief Executive Officer at iSIGN Media. I’ve been a serial entrepreneur over
the years – I have a knack for spotting growth opportunities and capitalizing on them, mainly
in the consumer electronics, communication, digital imaging, e-commerce and video gaming
space. I was CEO and President of Alpine Electronics for 15 years and a major shareholder at
Royal Oak Marketing. I was also a co-founder of Spherex Inc., which developed and sold an
Xbox gaming audio system. I’ve been with iSIGN since 2007.
We enable retailers to provide messages, discounts and coupons while customers are in the store.
iSIGN provides a unique multiplatform advertising solution using BluetoothTM, mobile, WiFi and
location-aware technologies. We help retailers deliver rich media, permission-based messages
to consumers. Our proximity marketing solution benefits consumers by delivering relevant offers
and helps merchants by driving huge marketing ROI and providing valuable consumer insights.
Alright, sounds interesting, but how would you pitch yourself to an Android user?
As users of a sophisticated smartphone platform like Android know, the line between physical
and digital experiences is becoming blurred. People use their Android devices to stay in touch,
stay entertained and stay up to date. They also use them to find products and services they
need. iSIGN can help with that because we enable retailers to provide messages, discounts and
coupons while customers are in the store. It costs the customer absolutely nothing, and their
privacy is 100% assured.
Are we talking about ads and offers pushed to users within a specific vicinity?
That’s how it works: iSIGN’s in-store digital signs detect Bluetooth signals and send a message
that Android users can either accept or decline. Either way, no names or phone numbers are
ever collected, and the customer isn’t charged for a message. Instead, they can choose to
receive an free offer to make a purchase and save money on a product they may have come in
to the location to purchase anyway.
Is it text-based only or might these be interactive, video, etc?
iSIGN supports rich media, so the message is whatever the merchant wants it to be – a digital
coupon, an interactive game or a video.
Do consumers need to worry about data or privacy?
Since iSIGN uses Bluetooth, the only information that is detected is the hardware signature on
the device. It’s very important to us to protect customer privacy 100%. We never collect or store
Are there any specific companies using the service now that we might recognize?
Mac’s Convenience Stores – Canada’s largest chain and the second-largest convenience store
chain in North America – is rolling out a proximity marketing strategy using iSIGN technology. It
has been extremely successful so far. iSIGN is the largest owner and operator of in-store digital
media in Canada with 5,600 digital signs in 1,400 locations, and we’re growing quickly.
How are you getting the word out? Who are you talking with?
Mac’s has been a great partner and have supported us with an ad campaign in-store where the
technology is in front of shoppers. We have Canadian gold medalist, Ashleigh McIvor as our
sponsor and PR has been a tool which we’ve utilized quite a bit to speak to the business side
and as more stores go live, the consumer side as well.
How do consumers tend to respond to this sort of advertising?
Consumers have responded very positively. People who are in close proximity to an item
tend to have a high response rate to relevant offers. Unlike other digital marketing strategies,
proximity marketing doesn’t reach out to customers randomly; customers who receive our
messages have already showed an interest in the merchant by coming to the location, and they
choose whether or not to view the message. When our transmitters were rolled out at Mac’s
locations in Toronto, we didn’t receive a single complaint.
Has anything in Bluetooth technology changed over time that impacts your service? In other words, was this not possible before?
Today unlike 4 years ago Bluetooth range has gone from 30 feet to 300 and iSIGN has made it possible to adjust the range from as little as 1 foot to 300 feet. Bluetooth is capable of rich media such as music, videos as well as SMS text and able to be interactive with devices to capture. Logs all metrics and responses to offers and messaging all in set proximity making all messaging relevant and free to recipient.
Are there any places where we might see this in the United States today?
Currently operational in the city of Safety Harbour Florida and in Marathon convenience stores and gas bars in the Fort Wayne Indiana.
Great stuff, can’t wait to see this in our neck of the woods. Let’s assume a company or retail is reading this, how would they get in touch with you to learn more?
Thanks again for everything, we certainly appreciate your time!