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2011 M&A List: Mergers & Acquisitions in Digital Signage and DOOH

Author: Bill Gerba on 2012-02-09 12:58:00

Last night I was doing a bit of online research on digital out-of-home advertising and noticed something peculiar: the website for SeeSaw Networks has apparently disappeared. After a quick check with industry know-it-all Adrian Cotterill at DailyDOOH, it does appear that the company that more or less invented (or at least popularized) the DOOH network aggregation model has gone under. This is troubling for a few reasons, not the least of which being that SeeSaw was founded by seasoned advertising execs with killer credentials, and had raised a hefty chunk of funding. But more concerning (for me) is that we've seen plenty of companies on the ropes in the past who were frequently picked up by other firms interested in getting into digital signage or DOOH. But that didn't happen this time. Does that mean that the volume of digital signage deals is decreasing? Is the DOOH network aggregation model simply unworkable? Or was it simply a case of a mediocre business being eliminated? In light of SeeSaw's situation, let's take a look at the recent M&A activity across the industry and see if we can spot any trends.

Deals involving digital signage and DOOH companies in 2011

Back in 2010, we published an article on digital signage mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies that identified 40-50 recent transactions in our space. Over the ensuing months, we made several updates in the comments section (and were joined by others from the community) as new deals came to light. So what was the overall tone of the deal flow in 2011? Thankfully, it looks like there were considerably more mergers and acquisitions than there were flat out bankruptcies, though obviously any number of the deals below might well have been done out of necessity, and I'm sure we've missed plenty of quiet demises:
  • Amscreen acquires Digicom
  • Axoro acquires Express Digital Signage product line from .advancedMethod
  • Brite Media Group acquires Targetcast
  • Chilin Technology acquires Vertigo Digital Displays
  • ClearOne acquires MagicBox
  • Concentia Group acquires Imagesound (kind of)
  • Delphi Display Systems acquires Fast Track
  • EnQii and Minicom merge
  • Haivision acquires CoolSign
  • iSIGN Media acquires Pinpoint Media
  • KIT Digital acquires Kewego
  • LiveIT & Learn acquires Can Media Group
  • MADIC Holdings acquires Mirane
  • Mermaid Acquires Headline.TV
  • Mood Media acquires Muzak
  • Mood Media acquires Pelika
  • MRI (Grant Sign Group) acquires Hamilton Digital Designs
  • Multiband acquires TechniqueUSA
  • NCR acquires Radiant Systems
  • Newad acquires assets of Media One
  • Outcast Media, PumpTop TV and Health Club Media Network merge
  • Qualcomm acquires gesture recognition assets from GestureTek
  • Radiant Systems acquires Texas Digital
  • Saddle Ranch Productions and Seatac Digital Resources merge
  • Scala acquires Digifour Technologies
  • Screenvision acquires Uniquescreen Media
  • SeeSaw Networks goes out of business
  • Stroer Digital acquires ECE Flatmedia
  • VeriFone acquires assets of Show Media
  • VeriFone acquires TaxiMedia
  • VITEC Multimedia acquires assets of OOH Video
  • YCD acquires assets of C-Nario
Where will 2012 take us?

As we learned from last month's Digital Signage Sentiment Index, most people feel that 2012 will be a better year than 2011, and from the list above, 2011 didn't necessarily look that bad. So far this year, we've already seen some interesting deal action (PRN's acquisition of indoorDIRECT comes to mind), and the anecdotal evidence we've heard suggests more may be in store.

And what about SeeSaw? Without the details, we can only speculate. Anything from a costly operating structure to poor traction with advertisers could have taken them down. But in the end, it's still a little troubling. From my perspective, somebody needs to make the DOOH network aggregation model work. If it proves to be unworkable, the DOOH industry will be like a failed star -- unable to ignite, and forced to exist as just a cool, dim ball of gas (I worked on that metaphor for a while, in case you can't tell). Despite fringe cases where small networks thrive, merge and grow into successful large networks, failure is still the M.O. for too many digital signage networks. For that to change, we need standardization and interoperability. We need to present a unified front to advertisers. But the work is hard and unglamorous, so despite well more than a decade of growth, few in our industry have truly embraced these concepts and have been willing to devote time and money to the effort.

Were there other deals in 2011 that we missed? Do you have any insights into the deals listed above? Leave a comment and let us know!

Comments (28)

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2012-02-09Lyle Bunn writes:
Indeed, the SeeSaw scenerio, along with Adcentricity, rVue, Vukunet and DOMedia directions offer important indicators of ad revenue achievement challenges.

With 365 ad-based digital place-based networks in North America (my current database), significant media presentation capacity exists, and it is clear that some premises networks are moving to the offer of ad flighting.

This points to the critical issue of cost-of-sales, which will Bill, I believe, become an area of deeper industry focus.
2012-02-09Bill Gerba writes:
Agreed, Lyle. I'm worried about the remaining aggregators out there -- the industry hasn't heard from Adcentricity in ages, and rVue's latest financial filings look pretty grim.

More than a cost issue, I think the real problem is that none of these guys have managed to make themselves essential to anybody -- not the networks and not the advertisers. They're all nice-to-haves, and unfortunately because of that none have apparently managed to meet the critical adoption rate.
2012-02-10Richard Croteau writes:
I spoke with a sales rep at Synnex Canada. They are lauching (perhaps and aquisition - I'm not certain) Vision Max. Has anyone heard of this CMS?
2012-02-10Bill Gerba writes:
Hi Richard,

Apparently Synnex bought VisionMax, a POS/DS integrator, in late 2011, and now they're making their services available to VARs. They offer a couple of cloud-based software solutions, including some CMS type things for digital signage.
2012-02-14DOOH Guy writes:
There are rumors swirling that Adcentricity will be next to the chopping block. The days of the digital signage network aggregator may be numbered: the writing is on the wall.
2012-02-21Bill Gerba writes:
DOOH Guy:

Yup, I've heard similar rumors, though they've all been unsubstantiated at this point. No matter how you look at it, though, the aggregator model is proving to be more difficult than most would have suspected -- probably due to a combination of technical and business reasons.
2012-02-27John Morgan writes:
Remember, it took 10 or more years for Internet advertising aggregators to find success. One of the early companies, Engage Inc., started in 1995, did an $84 million IPO in 1999, and went Chapter 11 in 2003. Eventually, the demand for place-based advertising will combine with the right business model, and someone will be incredibly successful.
2012-03-05Bill Gerba writes:
Well, to add to the list:

- Ecast shuts down (a genuine, and concerning, surprise)
- BroadSign files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

I've heard similar things may be in store for at least one other vendor, some say two, so I suspect this list will see some additional updates.
2012-03-12Bill Gerba writes:
- Buzzboard Digital Media assets acquired by Half Minute Media
2012-04-04Bill Gerba writes:
Newport Media (who?) leaves the DS space (http://www.dailydooh.com/archives/65616)
2012-04-05DOOH Gal writes:
Bill... your closing statement in your blog "failure is still the M.O. for too many digital signage networks. For that to change, we need standardization and interoperability. We need to present a unified front to advertisers. But the work is hard and unglamorous, so despite well more than a decade of growth, few in our industry have truly embraced these concepts and have been willing to devote time and money to the effort."

It is far more insidious than just "hard and unglamorous". There are key individuals at the top of the key industry association group that do not want it to change.

They perceive that successful aggregation, while increasing the overall revenues to the space, will reduce their corporate revenues, if only for a few quarters, and that has caused them to act (quietly and behind the scenes) to neuter attempts at any real solution to this KEY industry problem.

This is very sad for the (based on Lyle's count) 363 other ad-based networks that could benefit from successful sort/filter/plan/buy/traffic/report tools that are desperately needed in this space.

The solution is to change the leadership of the key industry group. That is a difficult thing to do as the top players are masters of politics and glad-handing. Very few people, even within the organization, realize the extent to which the manipulation is occurring.
2012-04-09Bill Gerba writes:
Another for the list: UK network City Gateway Media ceased trading in March.

As for DOOH Gal: I'm as much a fan of cloak-and-dagger conspiracy theories as any, but the fact is that NONE of our industry organizations have anywhere near the clout or influence to do what you describe.

Instead, I'll invoke Hanlon's Razor, an old maxim that says "never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."
2012-04-24Bill Gerba writes:
Bee Media acquired Adcentricity (and then renamed itself Adcentricity) per http://www.dailydooh.com/archives/66624
2012-04-30Bill Gerba writes:
1. Camvine (Cambridge, UK software vendor) goes into Administration

2. Mood Media buys DMX in North America

3. Imagesound buys TSG Media (probably)
2012-05-25Bill Gerba writes:
To add to the list:
Magink (E-ink billboard provider) shuts down
DGScreens (Israeli company) disappears
2012-05-28Bill Gerba writes:
DiGIMATION acquired by Capital Networks in 12/2011
Astral Out-of-Home, purchased by BCE Inc. (Bell Canada Enterprises) in March 2012 as part of the full Astral acquisition
2012-05-29Bill Gerba writes:
DigiCast Networks Acquires RMG’s NYT Digital Cafe Network
2012-06-01Bill Gerba writes:
Mood Media Acquire BIS Group
2012-06-04Bill Gerba writes:
- In Store Audio Network acquires audio-only assets of IBN (for some amount less than $12M)

- Al Barq Digital closes
2012-07-20Bill Gerba writes:
Harris trying to divest their broadcast division, including the digital signage arm

Orion Equity Holdings purchases RMG fitness network assets
2012-08-01Bill Gerba writes:
DpbMedia Access 360 Media rebrands as Access Sports Media, sells its Mallvision assets to AdSpace Networks

Hantarex Acquired By GDS
2012-08-08Bill Gerba writes:
- Corum Digital Corporation acquires MediaTile assets

- UB Media Inc., Montreal, has acquired KB Media Inc.
2012-08-09Bill Gerba writes:
AdCentricity acquires Media 2 Go International Inc.
2012-08-20Sung writes:
Standard for network, display, location and/or cost would be acceptable? What's the point for future GM?

Interactive?

Thanks.
2012-12-06Bill Gerba writes:
NewBay Media Acquires Intent Media Limited
Harris Sells Broadcast Division To Gores Group
2012-12-17Bill Gerba writes:
Symon acquired by some kind of shell company called SCG Financial Acquisition Corp: http://m.prnewswire.com/news-releases/scg-financial-acquisition-corp-announces-equity-commitment-letter-and-non-binding-letter-of-intent-with-symon-communications-inc-183543231.html
2013-01-03Bill Gerba writes:
2013: Mood Media Acquires Technomedia Assets for $23 Million
2013-01-04Bill Gerba writes:
2013: Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, New Tork-based private equity firm focused on information/business services and healthcare, has completed its acquisition of GetWellNetwork, provider of Interactive Patient Caresolutions.

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