Bravo Outdoor Advertising, which sells and manages advertising panels on public transit vehicles and roadways in Ireland, wanted to secure new business by delivering content on digital panels. Pica Vision, a provider of digital media solutions,
designed an intelligent digital advertising system anchored by Windows Embedded Standard 7 and Microsoft SQL Azure. The innovative new solution has the potential to attract 50 percent more views over a traditional static panel and uses GPS information to customize
content in real time based on route and vehicle. By taking advantage of an intelligent system, the company is increasing revenue, cutting maintenance costs, and gaining a stronger competitive advantage.
Bravo Outdoor Advertising sells and manages advertising panels on buses, trains, and roadways throughout Ireland. Established in 2009, the new company is 100% Irish owned and operated. Today, Bravo estimates that it handles 85 percent of the top advertisers
in the country and delivers 354 million impacts or ad displays each week.
To distinguish itself from the many traditional advertising companies that were using paper signs and billboards, Bravo decided to adopt an intelligent system that it could use to deliver digital content in virtually any location. In 2009, Ireland’s national
transport system, Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), requested proposals to manage ads at all its outdoor sites, including bus stops and train terminals. The lucrative contract, worth an estimated €40 million (U.S. $52.6 million), required the contractor to provide
ad content in a digital format. Adrian O’Farrell, former Marketing Director at Bravo Outdoor Advertising, says “Winning the CIÉ contract was imperative, and demonstrating advanced digital capability would be a fundamental part of our pitch.”
Bravo believed that digital advertising was the right direction for other projects too. To stay profitable, the company would typically sell an advertising panel or billboard for a two-week period. As a result, the company had limited flexibility in the
number of customers it could serve at each location. It also wanted to reduce the operational costs involved in manually installing and maintaining signs and billboards.
||A digital panel will attract 50 percent more views [than a static panel]…The ability to deliver more compelling advertising products with a Pica Vision solution powered by Windows Embedded makes both us and our customers more competitive.
| Adrian O’Farrell
Former Marketing Director
Bravo Outdoor Advertising
Bravo asked Pica Vision, a local Irish provider of digital media products, to design a solution that would be implemented in several phases. Pica Vision had already performed a trial of its products with CIÉ on Irish Rail, and Bravo was confident that the
company had the experience and expertise it needed for the project.
The proposed solution included digital displays powered by the Windows Embedded Standard 7 operating system, Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server data management software, and Web services based on the Microsoft .NET Framework 4. For content delivery, Pica
Vision would use a hybrid-cloud solution with SQL Server running on-premise and in the cloud on Microsoft SQL Azure—part the Windows Azure platform. Pica Vision knew that the Microsoft solution would ensure a high level of scalability and improve manageability
by eliminating the need to distribute and maintain content across multiple data centers. It would also provide the connectivity the company needed to remotely manage and transmit digital content on vehicles and venues across Ireland.
Kieran Walkin, Managing Director at Pica Vision, says that Microsoft is its vendor of choice for controlling costs while delivering an end-to-end solution “When we evaluated our options, including Linux, we felt that the Microsoft platform would enable us
to develop solutions better and faster.”
Bravo won the CIÉ contract with a prototype of the solution in September 2009, and successfully bid for another contract at the end of the year—this one worth €100 million (U.S.$131.6 million)—to run advertising on Irish Rail. The company expects the solution
to be fully deployed by 2013.
After purchasing services from Bravo, advertising customers upload their creative content to SQL Server databases managed by Pica Vision. Pica Vision also downloads entertainment and news content from broadcast networks. Then Pica Vision creates a playlist
on application servers and wirelessly distributes content through the cloud to digital displays powered by Windows Embedded Standard 7. The solution includes global positioning (GPS) technology so that Bravo and Pica Vision can deliver content customized for
each route and vehicle. Bravo can also go online to schedule advertising, monitor playback time and locations, and print reports for customers.
In addition to providing entertainment and news content, the solution also displays information about the next stop on bus and train routes. As a result, Ireland’s transport system can more easily comply with a new European Union directive to provide next-stop
information to people with reduced mobility.
Bravo and Pica Vision installed four large-format displays in Ireland’s national bus stations and tested the solution on a route for Dublin Bus in August, 2011. The trial, which included next-stop announcements and news and entertainment content, received
enthusiastic feedback from passengers. Building on that success, Bravo and Pica Vision plan to deploy 1800 displays with Dublin Bus by 2013 and deliver content on 170 million passenger journeys each year. The companies are looking at more ways to expand the
solution, including delivering content on smartphones and other mobile devices.
By implementing a digital advertising solution powered by Windows Embedded, Bravo Outdoor Advertising has gained a more flexible, intelligent system that will help it increase revenue, cut operating costs, and build a competitive advantage.
With an intelligent system powered by Windows Embedded, Bravo can serve a customer base with diverse needs more easily. “Digital content is a game-changer in outdoor advertising. It’s more eye-catching, and we have much more flexibility,” says O’Farrell.
“With a Pica Vision solution powered by Windows Embedded, we can sell advertising for a week, a day, or two hours if that’s what the customer requires. It provides enormous accessibility to advertising services.”
Bravo is also using the intelligent system to reach a broader audience and increase profitability. In addition to securing CIÉ contracts, the company expects more revenue from additional advertising customers. Bravo believes that the CIÉ TV channel delivered
by Pica Vision on a Microsoft platform could become one of the biggest television channels in the country. “If we get a good occupancy level on trains and busses, it could significantly increase—if not double—what we bill annually.”
Streamlined Operations and Reduced Costs
Instead of installing and maintaining signs and billboards, Bravo can focus on selling advertising. “The Pica Vision and Microsoft solution cuts operational costs because we don’t have to send someone out to install signs—we can deliver digital content remotely,”
says O’Farrell. “After making the sale, we can schedule ads and manage inventory through our online system.”
Stronger Competitive Advantage
With the new solution, Bravo is expanding beyond its niche in outdoor advertising to content delivery on television and mobile devices. And besides providing greater flexibility, Bravo believes that digital media will produce better results for its customers.
“Our research shows that if you have a static panel and a digital panel, the digital panel will attract 50 percent more views,” says O’Farrell. “So the ability to deliver more compelling advertising products with a Pica Vision solution powered by Windows Embedded
makes both us and our customers more competitive."