Onestop pitching Toronto schools to move its DOOH pilot to full rollout

January 27, 2011 by Dave Haynes

The Toronto District School Board Administrative, Finance and Accountability Committee met last night and deferred for a few weeks the discussion and decision Onestop Media Group’s pitch to put screens in high schools that run information, backed by inoffensive advertising.

That’s probably bad news for Onestop because it gives the local media a few weeks to whip up a frenzy about the subject and, as is its unceasing nature everywhere, seek out people and parenting experts who are mortified by the prospect.

News of the committee meeting in the Toronto Star and then with broadcasters on Wednesday started stirring things up. Consider the CTV Toronto report:

A public debate is brewing over a Toronto District School Board proposal that could result in advertisements being shown on giant television screens at city schools.

It’s believed that the monitors, which would be installed in hallways at schools, would display school bulletins and other information. But there is concern in some quarters that the screens would also be used for advertisements in a captive environment.

The plan would result in a company installing screens at 70 schools. Other content, like photos from school events and student work would also be shown on the digital screens.

With a few weeks to look at this more and flag the issue for parents it will probably get whipped up some more, as opposed to just getting passed through and approved last night, which was undoubtedly Onestop’s hope.

Here is what is being discussed.


TO Administrative, Finance and Accountability Committee

26 January 2011

RECOMMENDATION IT IS RECOMMENDED that the report be received.


The purpose of this report is to provide an update as to the Digital Signage Pilot Project in four (4) secondary schools to which Onestop Media Group Inc. was named source vendor and to advise Trustees of a roll-out to an additional (70) secondary schools (with a minimum participation rate of 50 schools) beginning in March 2011. Participation will be optional. There is potential for a further 20 secondary schools to be included starting January 2012.

The digital sign program has been operational from January to June 2010 (still in schools) at Central Technical School, Harbord CI, Heydon Park SS and Central Commerce CI with four (4) ceiling-mounted digital display screens per school. The agreement allowed that, if the pilot were successful, then Onestop and the Board would determine the best model to expand the digital network to other secondary schools.

Significant stakeholder evaluation was undertaken with Parent and Student Councils, school administrators, with students via an online survey and with a Ward 10 Parent Committee who had been monitoring and evaluating the program from its outset. Overwhelmingly, the pilot program was deemed a success by stakeholders.

The program evaluation indicated that:

1. Each school developed unique content and student engagement opportunities appropriate to their school community.

The screens were used to show: photographs from events, student work, school announcements and messages, exam information, time remaining until next class, sporting event updates, opinion voting results, school council updates, etc.

2. Onestop provided excellent support and a sustained level of engagement and training within each school community.

3. There is further potential for students to use this medium including the production of live content, potential use as a tool for community engagement (e.g. Ward meetings); and for panBoard messaging (e.g., Haiti Relief campaign).

4. Parent feedback showed support for the program as the screens provided increased use of ‘modern’ technology in schools and supported increased opportunities for student engagement and the celebration of student work. They want to see an expansion of media sources to reflect interests of the community (e.g., Jazz FM), the potential use of sound before/after school, and concrete learning goals for use of the network.

The pilot program allowed for revenue generating opportunities from non-commercial sponsors such as the Milk Marketing Board, post-secondary institutions, government and media sources, etc.

As per Board Policies and Procedures, all messages were to be centrally reviewed and approved prior to posting by the Business Development Department.

Onestop assumed costs and expenses associated with the pilot operation including hardware, software, licensing, liability insurance and program support. The Board installed the LCD panels, provided power and internet cabling and access to LANs with confirmation that the Onestop system would not place pressure on bandwidth, services, or components within the current network infrastructure.

The key features of the proposed new rollout model include:

1. Onestop will assume the expenses associated with the rollout including hardware, software, licensing, liability insurance and program development and training support.

2. An expansion to 70 secondary schools starting March 2011 (with a minimum participation rate of 50 schools) with a further 20 secondary schools included in 2012.

3. The agreement shall be for a seven-year term with one three-year extension provided each party is satisfied with the program.

4. Voluntary participation in the program in consultation with the school community including Parent and Student Councils

5. The continuation of the sponsor framework including:

a) Mandatory approval of all sponsors and their programs by Business Development prior to posting;

b) No more than 30% sponsor content; all messages to be screened as youth appropriate and non-commercial;

c) Progressive revenue share of net sponsorship revenues to the Board (5-15%);

and d) Opportunity for limited, local sponsorship program for schools.

6. The provision to be an exclusive digital media program within schools.

7. Confirmation that the system would not place undue pressure on bandwidth, services or components of the current network infrastructure (e.g., overnight load).

8. The opportunity to promote the Board on screens managed by Onestop including the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to a value of $100,000-$200,000 per annum.

9. Access to a customized Instant Alert System to override content with timely notices and security alerts (hearing impaired compliant).

10. Access to some free translation services for key messages. As this program grows, we shall encourage schools to share best practices and ideas for student engagement. The program will be monitored on a regular basis with feedback encouraged by the full school community.

So …

The program ran for six months and all the stakeholders were OK with it. Onestop has determined a revenue model that makes this feasible with limited advertising. The board’s willing to look at a seven-year deal with a three year extension term that’s in line with some OOH venue agreements out there. Very interesting.

I doubt few people who have been around the media game for any time see what Onestop is doing now with the restrictive advertising is the limit. With full approval, and time, they’ll look for variances and easements just like developers do when they put up buildings. Over time, you will start to see real advertising find its way on these screens and Onestop will have a model and formula that it can take to other districts.

My kids are past their school years and the idea of screens in hallways would get nothing but a shrug from me in terms of my concern about their impressionable minds. My guess is they would have barely noticed the things and I doubt ad recall rates would be outstanding. But this can be sold on opportunity to see and the whole exclusive access. time and place proposition.

It will be interesting to see what happens and if the media forgets about it, or runs hard with this as the arrival of the Antichrist in Toronto high school hallways.

The only thing that offends me is the way the TDSB put out an RFP in 2009 looking for someone to do this, when it was clearly, totally pre-baked for Onestop.

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