LevelVision hands over keys to college network; gets focused on technology

August 20, 2009 by Dave Haynes

Late this afternoon a press release went out announcing a deal between relatively new DOOH network operator Visser Digital Media and LevelVision, with the latter effectively getting out of the ad business and getting focused on technology development and sales.

Roanoke, VA-based LevelVision has been running a network of floor-based video screens in some 300 college bookstores across the US, while Scottsdale, AZ-based Visser has been running a network called CampusVision, also chasing university campus network ad dollars.

So two sales forces that would have been trying to one-up each other for those media dollars are now one unified sales team, with a bigger footprint to sell and dealing with less noise in their part of the marketplace.  

“This strategic partnership will now provide VDM’s CampusVision program with a tremendous boost in the deployment of our campus-wide digital screen business model, including our college ad-funded and subscription programs. VDM will be working closely with the talented team at LevelVision to ensure a smooth transition in operations, advertising, and venue management. We look forward to a continuing relationship with LevelVision and their executive management team, especially CEO Bob Martin, to utilize and grow on their significant investment and deployments, as well as their vision of the continuing the adoption of their effective and unique floor display technology,” states Richard Cooley, CEO and President of Visser Digital Media.


“This deployment has proven the unique audience impact and marketing viability of floor-based video signage. We simply couldn’t have found a better home for our college bookstore network than with Visser Digital Media and their CampusVision program,” adds Bob Martin, President and CEO of LevelVision and IntelliMat Inc. “The last twelve months have seen the digital signage industry, particularly the ad-supported sectors, learn valuable and brutal lessons about when and why revenue will come to even the most well-positioned companies. So now, as the marketing climate improves and the ‘Ambient Video 2.0’ models emerge, I feel that VDM’s fresh perspective and well-informed strategy has them poised for an impressive run in the coming months and years. LevelVision is very pleased to be a part of those plans.” 

The release was a little fuzzy in spots so I reached out to Martin, who kindly and quickly zipped me back a response.

Is your company exiting the media business to focus on technology development and sales, or was the college network just a deal that came up with Visser and made sense? 

Martin: The former.  The economic climate simply wouldn’t afford us the bandwidth to be successful by going in two very different directions at the same time.  With the college bookstore network, we proved that venues, niche audiences, and advertisers will embrace floor-based video signage.  Transferring that great start to Visser made great sense as they have a solid college-focused strategy and strong backing – this deal gives them instant scale, ad sales pipeline, and even more credibility with campuses they want to expand to.  As for LevelVision, our new 42” HD floor-screen is just a remarkable piece of technology and will be an impactful component of any deployment.  We need to focus there, and other ideas that are protected by our massive IP portfolio..  

2 – What does ambient video 2.0 mean?

It’s me trying to describe the way that video signage systems, particularly ad-supported networks (either out-of-home or place-based), are being capitalized and deployed now versus just a year ago.  In so many instances, the Field of Dreams / “If We Build It, The Advertisers Will Come” model proved to be a … relatively unhealthy … use of capital and resources.  Nowadays, networks are finding ways to share risk and reward with venues and even marketers before installing each screen.  OVAB has done such a remarkable job in a short time, and the larger ad-supported networks are now coming around to more aggressive standardization and homogeny of their offerings – both in terms of audience measurement and reporting a well as creative and content specifications.  Having gone through a round of what works and what doesn’t, the industry seems to be a lot smarter, if not a little stronger.

3 – Cash deal, or share swap?

Can’t disclose terms, but I will say that we quickly arrived at a win-win situation.  Also, this wasn’t a one-hit-wonder, we plan on staying very close to each other in the years to come. 

Good move all the way around. Media dollars for a new medium are hard-won even in a boom economy, never mind whatever this still is. So two companies competing, with all the attendant overhead and the price erosion that results, made no sense. Visser benefits from a bigger footprint and LevelVision gets to focus on one thing instead of two. The hardware business is hardly a walk in the park, but LevelVision has unique IP and what sounds like some cool stuff coming down the pipe.

The company Website has some floor and counter stuff for chain retail that is markedly different than the gazillions of regular displays going up. I  have seen the original four-panel units that LV first went out with, and this new 42″ does look slick.

Visser has its own software solution driving its own screens but Martin says the college bookstore screens will continue to have BroadSign under the hood. 

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