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Start-up Blue Dot Media to push audio ads in NCB ATMs

Published:Sunday | May 22, 2016 | 5:00 AMTameka Gordon
Blue Dot Media partners and company leads, (from left) Andre Burnett and Larren Peart.

Customers who use National Commercial Bank's (NCB) automated teller machines will soon have short audio advertisements piped at them offering freebies from companies in the locale.

If they visit the advertised business, they can cash in on promotional products and services by invoking a designated word or phrase.

The new advertising format is being offered by fledgling firm Blue Dot Media, which is hoping to pull local companies to its platform with the 10-to-15-second ads, in collaboration with the bank.

Blue Dot is a partnership between friends Larren Peart and Andre Burnett. They have eschewed the traditional titles of manager and CEO, but instead refer to themselves as company leads.

"Our approach to advertising is that the consumer must get something. Right now, in most advertising, the consumers don't get anything except information," Burnett said of the decision to peg the ads to tangible promotional offerings.

The company is registered as Agile Disruptive Technologies Limited, but trades as Blue Dot Media. The advertising product to be offered through the ATMs is billed as a consumer engagement broadcasting system (CEBS).

Blue Dot will run a pilot from June to July in the ATMs at the Liguanea Lane and at Half-Way Tree in Kingston "to gauge the impact from sales", Burnett said.

Beverage manufacturer Wisynco has already signed on, he said.

"What we have done is put the solution in places where we know people go very regularly. So you walk into the ATM and you hear: 'If you would like a free frosty cone with your super deal meal this lunch time just tell the cashier 'snow cone' which is secret word for the day," Burnett explained.

The frosty cone is sold by Wendy's, a franchise operated locally by Wisynco.

Brand manager of Wisynco Foods, Krystle Graham-Haynes, told Sunday Business that they welcomed the opportunity to directly track sales attributable to audio ads, saying it offered more direct feedback than traditional radio ads.

"When you hear something on the radio, you come out of the car and you may not remember it. But when you hear something (about a product) that's just down the way from you, we saw the opportunity for additional transactions for the store, she said.

The keyword format that must be actioned by the customer means that "we will be able to see the results from it and test the effectiveness of it," Graham-Haynes said.

The location of every ATM can also offer marketing insight.

AD TRACKING

"The key is that an advertiser can actually track how many people hear the ads. That's the system we are trying to bring, where we can track the effect of the marketing, and we can actually use it to promote direct sales," said Burnett.

A Wendy's ad would not play in an area where there is no Wendy's. "That way, Wendy's can know that the sales they are getting from super deals are directly attributable to the advertising that they did with CEBS," he reasoned.

Burnett said Blue Dot decided to partner with NCB since the bank has the largest ATM network, 175 units, spread across Jamaica.

Also, "NCB is, by far, the most innovative", Burnett said, noting the bank's push to offer digital products.

NCB does not generate any income from this service, and only its own customers will be allowed to advertise through the Blue Dot platform, said chief digital and marketing officer, Nadeen Matthews.

To fund its plans, Blue Dot has brought in private investors who have taken equity in the company.

"We have actually entered into partnerships with a couple of other businesses who wouldn't like their name out there, but they are funding a section of it for equity," Burnett said.

He said while the investors have taken "a decent chunk" of the company, majority ownership however remains with the founding partners.

"But the thing is, this is only the first of three solutions that we will be rolling out this year, so that investor actually took an interest in the company, not the CEBS," he said.

Blue Dot has invested around $500,000 to $700,000 so far, "but he final cost is going to be significantly more than that", the company lead said. An investor is prepared to back the build out, he said.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com