Chicago Startup Gets $2.3M To Take On Big Outdoor Ad Guys With Digital Street Kiosks

May 30, 2012 by Dave Haynes

A Chicago start-up is trying to take on the big outdoor boys in the digital street furniture business, and now has a little working capital to get units on the street.

smartDIGITAL, a startup that makes interactive ad displays, has completed a $2.7 million Series A round of funding, reports TechCrunch.

smartDIGITAL displays are already available in Chicago and Miami, says co-founder and CEO George Burciaga, with plans to roll them out to 10 markets over the next 36 months. They’re essentially large kiosks with multi-touch screens that allow consumers to interact with an ad rather than simply staring at it as they walk or drive by.

The goal, Burciaga says, is to “inspire them to do something” — whether it’s sharing a photo, purchasing a Groupon deal (yes, Groupon is a partner), or emailing something to their phone. That means the consumer is more engaged, and it also means the advertiser has a better idea about whether their ads are actually working.

Burciaga says the units are getting about 6.5 hours of active attention, usually with three people at a time and for about three minutes.

The company plans to also have wall and glass displays for both indoor and outdoor, and will push Elevate as the brand.

The units cost about $14,000 and are basically giant smartphones on stands. The company has a partnership with fellow Chicago company Groupon, running daily deals on the screens, which seems smart.

The key guys are from IT and the beverage industry, which is not great if you are in the ad business. They also have to sell against the likes of Lamar, Titan, ClearChannel and JC Decaux, which is a bit of a challenge.


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