RMG Gets Unfocused Again, Taking Over Akoo’s Failed Mall Media Network

January 31, 2013 by Dave Haynes


News that RMG Networks has taken over the screens in shopping malls that were previously run by Akoo comes as a bit of a surprise, given that the San Francisco-based company had last year got out of verticals like fitness to focus solely on airline travel.

Now the company is selling a huge network of screens on the backs in airports and planes, and a wildly different, and widespread, network of dual screens in shopping mall food courts.

RMG Mall Media Network will come out of the gate as one of the largest US Digital OOH media networks out there, with 46 million Nielsen measured viewers each month.

Unlike other retail media networks, RMG Mall Media will intercept and engage shoppers while they are seated with its dynamic programming featuring full sight, sound and motion on panoramic displays and overhead sound. Differentiated from other mall media networks, RMG Mall Media is a shopper-friendly blend of content and advertising.

 “We are excited to add mall media to our premium portfolio of captive, long dwell-time, sight, sound, and motion advertising assets,” said Garry McGuire, CEO of RMG Networks. “Our experience building, running, and monetizing DOOH media networks will be leveraged as we work to consolidate the very fragmented mall media segment.”

Sounds exciting, but here’s the thing. Many have tried the whole digital advertising in food courts thing, and all have failed. Talk to senior people in shopping mall groups and you will get yawns and rolled eyes when asked their opinions of media networks in those areas.It does nothing for their core businesses (sales per square foot) and the revenues they see, if they see revenues, are rounding error kinds of numbers.

RMG has the advantage of taking over gear that’s already in place, so that removes the capital burden. But there are still lots of operating costs, notably in content. Just slapping news and weather feeds up there between the ads will go nowhere.


I have seen Akoo a few times, and sat and watched it, and had no idea what the company was trying to do. It looked like MTV meets social media meets mobile in the food court, except without viewers. Flawed and expensive programming aside, Akoo also failed because they spent investor money like a 1999 dotcom. Do a Google image search for Akoo offices. Nuts.

An equity shop that inherited the Akoo assets contacted me a few months ago looking for advice on what to do with it. Sell it. Or find a company to do sales for the deployed media assets, which is maybe what was what they decided on.

McGuire is a very smart cat, but this move is puzzling. As is always the case, there will be stuff we’re not hearing about.


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