It’s likely Digital OOH and digital signage are seen by many as still-young industries, but there are companies that have been at it since the 1990s – including Captivate, which is marking 20 years of putting screens in elevators.
Now based in New York, the company got its start in Boston in 1997, around the same time another company up in Toronto called Elevator News Network was also starting to put screens in office tower elevators. The founders of each will say they were first, but it’s a moot point since the two companies were shotgun-married by VCs in 2001. (I was VP Ops of the Canadian company at merger time, and then the Canadian execs were redundant. Sigh.)
The blended company now has 10,000 screens in 1,600 office towers in all the big metro areas in the United States, and as far as I know “owns” the business in the country. Captivate has another 2,000 screens in Canada in the top five markets, but has significant competition in Pattison, a big, privately-held OOH company.
In marking 20 years, the company has introduced several new programming features, including:
- A big update on a building managers’ tool that allows operators to go full screen with messages (instead of just populating a zone in the layout);
- Emergency overrides so that if there is something like a chemical leak or fire the screens can supplement other alert systems;
- Corporate on-screen branding that allows on-screen brand integration including a company logo, color scheme and/or building image;
- Captivate Create is a new retail promotional tool.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.