PhotoVu a Boulder, CO Digital frame maker rolled out a Ad network in Boulder, CO. The WiFi enabled Digital frames can display JPG but otherwise limited in their features. The displays, now seen at Wahoo Fish Taco, lets the retail owner display Ads about its own business and other local businesses.
"... we’ve decided to formally enter this market by opening a new Digital Signage division and rolling out our first network in downtown Boulder, CO. This will allow us an unprecedented local test-bed in a tightly confined geography to further refine our technology and service offerings before rolling out into other major metros later this year"
The cost to the retail owners is zero and PhotoVu's equipment costs will continue to drop with expansion of the feature set of these digital frames. The operation can scale really well to any number of displays and networks.
There is also immense possibility to build a Google AdSense like auction framework for the Ad displays. Consider the case where the local and non-local businesses know exactly the type of people who will be watching it at different times of the day at different locations. With this profile they now can fine tune the product being advertised, the Ad format, length etc. For example, for a Wahoo near a University, the Ads could all be for Gen Y products and delivered in format the always on and mobile kids understand and act. With this level of targeting, advertisers would vie with each other to get their products in front of their potential customers. This competition can easily be turned into a profitable bidding structure that is not much different from AdSense.
While the possibilities are amazing and endless, there is nothing technically complex or unique about this. The barriers to entry come from the size of the firm offering such a bidding network and its pedigree. This has to be done one local business at a time or by signing up large franchises like McDonalds to have this display in all their stores. The former leads to fragmentation and slow uptake and the latter requires a big brand name behind such an Ad network.
It should not be a surprise to anyone if Google entered this arena and quickly captured the entire market.