By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette
In our last post, we caught up with Screenreach Interactive founder and CEO Paul Rawlings on his way out the door to attend the Digital Signage Investor Conference in New York. We explored how the company has developed its target markets, including the digital signage, or “out of home advertising,” market.
It has been a busy month for the company since then as it continues to build market share in the digital signage, television and radio industries.
David Weinfeld, Screenreach’s chief strategy officer, is based in New York. He and Rawlings hit the tradeshow floor together to speak with experts in the digital signage industry to deepen their understanding of how best to serve this growing global market.
“The conference really gave us a chance to get into the shoes of the clients we wish to serve,” Weinfeld said. “As a result, we are making some exciting changes to the product that we think will make a significant difference in how useful and appealing it is to advertisers and digital signage operators.”
Gadget of choice
After New York, Rawlings headed to Radio Festival, Europe’s top radio industry event, where Screenreach was a sponsor. As we explored in the last post, radio is a growing market for Screenreach and it already counts among its customers in the space Bauer Media, which operates 42 radio stations across the U.K.
“Radio Festival was a very interesting experience for us,” Rawlings said. “It gave us the chance to hear some of the challenges facing the industry. One thing we hadn’t realized was just how important research is to the business of radio. Screach offers deep consumer profiling and we have perhaps been underselling this feature.”
Popular U.K. television program The Gadget Show also held a session within the festival which demonstrated up and coming technologies set to change the radio industry. Screach was used by the audience to allow them to vote on their favourite technology from each round and was also voted the winning gadget in the final round.
Making current affairs interactive
Screenreach has also been working with U.K. television network Channel 4 to provide an app for its long-running current affairs program, Dispatches.
The opportunity to work on the show arose through Tom Gutteridge, a member of Screenreach’s board who worked previously as the CEO of Freemantle Media in the U.S. He made the initial contact with Channel 4 through his production company, Standing Stone.
“This is exciting for us as it will be the first time we’ve seen Screach used in this context,” Rawlings said. “So far, many Screach adopters have used the technology for games and quizzes and our trial on Dispatches will really show how versatile the product is.”
Channel 4 will use Screach to give viewers more control over their news consumption. It will provide additional content and information related to the Dispatches program in real time, provide integration with Facebook and Twitter to encourage viewers to chat with each other during the program via their mobile devices, and provide them with a live polling feature.
“With the polls feature, an example would be if the program was featuring a story that refers to trains, we can ask viewers questions such as ‘how many times have you had to stand on a train journey in the last few months?’ for which they will then see an instant poll,” Channel 4’s Vicky Taylor said in a recent interview.
Playing nice with iOS and Android
Back in the office, Screenreach’s development team has been busy working on the Android platform. It’s now possible for a user to install the Screach app on a tablet device, running either iOS or Android, and engage in a multiplayer experience with other users.
Previously, the only way a user’s smartphone could interact with a tablet was through Wi-Fi synching, AirPlay (synchronization between iOS devices), or through devices with matching operating systems, such as an iPhone and iPad.
With the latest development, an Android tablet can be used as a travelling game board, and people can interact with it through Screach using either an iPhone or an Android device.
For Rawlings and his team, the past month has provided valuable lessons about the importance of refining the current product messaging depending on the needs of specific market verticals.
“This is very exciting for us,” he said. “It means that our continued development opens windows of opportunity that we previously had not foreseen. If we think back to a year ago, so much has changed. One of the favourite sayings in the office is ‘do you want to see something cool’ which is followed by a group gathering around someone’s desk to see something we couldn’t even have imagined the week before. This makes it a very exciting product to work on.”
This is the third article in a continuing monthly series chronicling the growth path of Screenreach Interactive, a startup based in Newcastle upon Tyne in England’s North East. Screenreach’s flagship product, Screach, is an interactive digital media platform that allows users to create real-time, two-way interactive experiences between a smart device (through the Screach app) and any content, on any screen or just within the mobile device itself. We invite your feedback.