Volume 2, Issue 11 -- November 22, 2010
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The Evolution of Digital Signage is Underway
By Jason Cremins
CEO, Remote Media
In the digital signage sector, the evolution of technology in one month is the equivalent to one million years in human development.
Sounds a bit much, I know, but stay with me here.
Cynics in the tech gadget world smirked when the iPhone came along in 2007, derisively calling it the “Jesus Phone” and scoffing at the idea it was such a big deal. But in less than four years, Apple has sold more than 67 million iPhones and the rise of the smartphone has totally changed not only the mobile sector, but also the personal computer sector as well. It’s definitely changed how digital signage is positioned in the technology eco-system.
The emerging technologies that drive and populate smartphones and other screen devices are changing the way content is created and moved around. We’re watching a switch from the static, offline, expensive and time-consuming process of content production and distribution, to media that is automatically generated, on the fly.
We’re at the head of a transition from a PC-driven driven business – with all its challenges and frailties – to one that will be dominated by cheaper, far more reliable special-purpose devices.
We’re also starting to see the lines blur between mediums. It’s been easy, and important, to make the argument that digital signage is not TV. But’s that no longer quite true.
Let’s look at some of these advancements, how they work and what they mean.
Dynamic media content is powered by Media RSS, an open standard for distribution of media content that was created by Yahoo. Conventional RSS is the text feed that most commercial digital signage platforms use to create scrolling news tickers on screens. What Yahoo did was to take that standard and add images, video and animation.
Media RSS feeds, when they are mixed into playlists, allow screens to be steadily updated with visually interesting content around the clock and with no human intervention. Instead of stale and pedestrian, screens are fresh and engaging.
A great example of using Media RSS in digital signage is Screenfeed, which provides a range of Media RSS channels including news, sport, entertainment and weather. Each channel is updated several times every day to provide fresh and relevant content to entertain viewers.
Online Internet advertising platforms such as Adtech.com currently provide the ability to serve up video advertising spots as Media RSS-ready for use on digital signage networks. Adtech currently serve up 125 billion spots every month across both Internet and mobile phone platforms.
It’s likely Google will at some point extend its TV Ads offering beyond the current online video and cable TV landscape to include Digital Out Of Home networks. Google TV Ads is based on the Adwords platform used in web-based searches, but enables advertisers to buy slots across a range of media channels that subscribe to the Google TV ads offering. Adding DOOH networks would be easy via Media RSS.
For a long time, choosing a digital signage management solution meant an operator had to use the software player or hardware device developed by the same company, or at minimum one that conformed to certain minimum specifications. Not anymore. The Media RSS standard has been extended down to the player level, with another open standard called SMIL.
SMIL (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language) makes ops guys in digital signage networks smile because the standard helps in several areas:
Stability – Typical SMIL units are small, fanless and have no moving parts. That means there is very little that can break or lock up, delivering uptimes that can’t be matched by PC-based digital signage players;
Choice – SMIL is being adopted by numerous hardware vendors, enabling customers to choose their preferred players and vendors without worrying about compatibility issues;
Price/Performance – Each SMIL device is engineered to include only the components required to operate, and with no operating system costs, SMIL devices offer tremendous price/performance. These are not devices designed to run word processing apps or games. They just play rich motion media.
IAdea has been the most active early adopter of SMIL, and companies such as Advantech, Viewsonic and Mitsubishi are now following suit.
Though it is still early days, we’re aware of several massive digital sign projects that use SMIL-based devices.
- World’s largest post office network – 71,000 locations planned, 1,000 installed
- North America’s 3rd largest hypermart chain – 4,000 players planned
- Largest supermarket chain in Nordic countries – 2,000 locations planned
- Asia’s major airport – 500 players installed
Internet TV combines traditional satellite and cable TV, with connectivity to the Internet, to provide support for additional media content to be downloaded and viewed on-demand.
At first, Internet TV was dedicated boxes from companies such as Apple, Roku and Boxee, all vying for a place in the main family entertainment area, connected to the existing TV. They use Media RSS to deliver music, movies and photos to those TVs, and are capable of acting like digital signage players. Yahoo has been working with Samsung to up the game with the Internet Connected TV Initiative, which puts a set-top box right into an Internet-connected TV.
There has been interest and some work within the digital signage sector to adapt this technology and incorporate or integrate their software, but that effort has been hampered by lengthy approval processes and overall costs.
However, that’s about to change...
Google TV recently launched, and the tech giant is partnering with Intel and Sony to develop an Internet TV solution that uses the Google Android operating system. Unlike the proprietary systems of companies such as Apple, Android is an open source operating system that enables digital signage software developers to easily develop new software that supports the Google TV technology.
This will really open up the market. We will see, very soon, a new generation of digital signage solutions emerge that are based on easily downloaded and activated apps that will allow modest networks to easily start running on any Google TV.
As perspective, consider that display industry analyst iSuppli is estimating sales of 148 million Internet TVs by 2014. That’s just three years and change out.
Digital Signage Re-imagined
The impact of Media RSS will extend well beyond conventional Digital Signage and Internet TV.
Tablets like the iPad and the new Samsung Galaxy Tab both support Media RSS, as will the flood of Android-based tablets expected in 2011. iPhones and Google-powered phones also support Media RSS.
The next generation of digital signage platforms will enable operators to target a full range of devices, not just big display monitors. It will run the gamut of possible screens. In the near future, any Internet connected device will have the potential to become a digital signage device, from in-car displays to Internet-connected fridges.
What This Means
For media companies, agencies, retailers, brands and other businesses and institutions who have a vast range of reasons and needs for digital signage, this is all very exciting. More will be possible … more easily and reliably, and at less cost.
For those companies who sell products and services directly in the sector, it’s a time to get smart about what they are doing. Companies providing proprietary software and hardware are at risk of being marginalized unless what they offer is truly unique or can be adapted to these fast-shifting standards.
For end-users, the best advice is to keep the options open. Going with open standard solutions means as technology evolves, so too can their solution.
Jason Cremins is the CEO of Remote Media, a UK-based software firm that develops and markets the signagelive digital signage platform. This post was based on a recent presentation made to attendees at the OVAB Europe conference in Munich. The firm is showing its technology at next month’s Customer Engagement Technology World event in New York.
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Digital Out-Of-Home in 2D and 3D
By Matt Brennesholtz
Insight Media Analyst
Digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising is becoming a fact of life, although in terms of dollars, it is still small potatoes compared to other advertising media. According to Patrick Quinn of PQ Media, at $1.8B DOOH represents about 4 percent of all out-of-home advertising and only about 1 percent of all advertising in the US, which is a $160B industry. Most of us don’t consider $1.8B small, but apparently the advertising industry does.
Yesterday I was at the clumsily-named Customer Engagement Technology World (CEWT) trade show. This show covers all types of digital signage, including DOOH advertising, and public information displays such as the ones in airports and train stations and kiosks. Kiosks include things such as ATM machines, terminals where you can order you sandwiches in the local WaWa Market, those blood-pressure machines in drug stores or the now nearly-ubiquitous Red Box DVD rental systems.
I was at the show mainly to learn what the impact of 3D was on the digital signage industry. The answer is: To date, not much, at least here in the U.S. Of course, Insight Media likes to look to the future. Is 3D coming to digital signage?
The answer to this is yes. The digital signage market segment where 3D adds the most value is DOOH advertising. 3D is arresting and attention-getting and leads people to pause to look at the system. These are all things that advertisers like. In other countries, in fact, 3D is much further advanced in the DOOH market than it is in the U.S. Countries and regions mentioned by people I talked to at CETW included Europe, Canada, the Middle East and Japan. Opinions varied as to when 3D would have a significant presence in DOOH in the U.S, although most though it was in the late 2011 to 2012 time frame.
One absolute requirement for DOOH 3D is the displays must be glasses-free. The ads are targeted at casual viewers in high foot-traffic locations and there is no realistic way to distribute glasses to viewers, even low-cost disposable paper glasses. One thing that enables DOOH 3D is the improvement in autostereoscopic 3D displays over the 4 years or so since I saw my first one in 2006. While the best of them are still not yet full HD quality, they are certainly good enough for the digital signage market and other markets like showing 3D football and basketball at sports bars.
There were two autostereoscopic displays at CETW, one from 3D Fusion and one from Apollo Display Technologies. The 3D Fusion display is the one I was thinking of when I said autostereoscopic displays were good enough for digital signage. Their display not only had acceptable resolution and few AS-3D artifacts as you moved around but it had excellent color, brightness and contrast. My photo of the bright displays taken in the dim Best Buy Theater lobby certainly doesn’t do them justice.
The Apollo display just didn’t measure up and wasn’t ready for most applications. On the other hand Apollo has only been working on autostereoscopic 3D for six months now and Kevin Diaz of Apollo says that the company is already working on a second generation AS-3D display. So we will reserve judgment about them.
3D Fusion is also a relatively new company, founded in 2007, but they inherited a lot of Philips 3D display and software technology. I had seen their display before, as reported in the November issue of LDR. In addition to showing it at CETW, they were using 5 of them in the lobby of the Best Buy theater on Times Square for a Bon Jovi concert. Four of them were used to show the Bon Jovi video "What Do You Got." This had been originally shot in stereoscopic 3D format and then converted to autostereoscopic by 3D Fusion. The 5th unit was showing the lobby and fans live, shot with a 3D camera and converted in real time with 3D Fusion software to AS-3D. I saw the Bon Jovi video images and they looked good. Very good, in fact. Unfortunately, I had to leave before the live camera was set up right and the Bon Jovi fans arrived.
Steve Blumenthal, President of 3D Fusion, told me afterwards, "We’ve had a tremendous response from our initial public debut at both the Bon Jovi Best Buy Theatre Times Square concert and the Javits Customer Engagement Technology World show. The Bon Jovi audience was stunned by the impact of our glasses-free 3D display and live camera capture." I would say if 3D Fusion AS-3D is good enough for Bon Jovi fans, it is good enough for football fans and advertisers.
An expanded version of this article, with additional details on the business of DOOH advertising in both 2D and 3D, will be published in the upcoming December edition of Large Display Report. And want to learn more about 3D on the DOOH market? Insight Media University will be unveiling a new full day workshop at Digital Signage Expo geared toward those with an interest in this market. And, we are also updating our forecast report in this topic area. Stay tuned.
Matt Brennesholtz is an analyst for Insight Media. Reach him at
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SpinetiX Integrates CMS Inside Media Players
Called Fusion, SpinetiX's new digital signage software application, designed for small-scale signage projects, is a DS design and CMS application. Integrated within every SpinetiX HMP Hyper Media Player, Fusion allows content to be managed via a web browser interface and can therefore be accessed either locally or remotely using a PC, Mac, Linux or iPad platform -- or any combination of these. Once connection to the player has been achieved, content can be uploaded, edited and published with minimal technical skill and quickly.
Because Fusion is installed within every HMP and no additional software is required, there are no subscription license fees for users to pay. The user interface features a pretty intuitive drag-and-drop architecture and there is a choice of languages.
For complete details, go here: http://www.spinetix.com/fusion
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Haivision Acquires CoolSign
In a deal that smells more like a bailout than a buyout, last week Haivision acquired the assets of CS Software Holdings, LLC, including the CoolSign product technology.
CoolSign, a veteran player in the digital signage market (since 1998), provides software solutions for digital signage deployments. With CoolSign software, Haivision plans to use its video streaming and IPTV products to provide more of the digital signage system solution.
Haivision says it will absorb the CoolSign brand under the Haivision umbrella while planning cross-product technical development to introduce Makito HD video encoding into the CoolSign solution suite and to extend the Furnace IP video system with the signage control capabilities of CoolSign.
If you want to learn more, ho here: http://www.haivision.com/
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Digital View Launches "Digital Signage in a Box"
Digital View released what the company is calling an “easy-install digital signage kit,” with a pre-configured media control server and a number of networkable, low-cost ViewStream HD digital media players. Designed to be a ready-made digital signage network, Digital View claims that all the user needs do is plug the server and media players into their existing local area network. The media server runs Digital View’s free DV-SYNC software, which is scalable and can be configured to run as many ViewStream media players as required, with no additional license costs or monthly fees.
The DV-SYNC application controls the distribution of digital signage media content across the network. It uses FTP technology to deliver media scheduling and to collect content play-out and compliance information.
The Digital Signage in a Box solution is offered with two ViewStream media player options -- both are Linux, have three-year warranties and play content in HD. The ViewStream VS-520 is a full HD 1080p, “gapless” track-to-track playback and a range of outputs to drive any LCD display, projector or video wall. ViewStream VS-320 is a compact, low cost player that offers 720p HD playback.
The Digital Signage in a Box package includes a Content Management Server pre-loaded with DV-SYNC, a user-defined quantity of ViewStream media players and a copy of the DV-Studio playlist list creation tool.
Learn more details at: http://www.digitalview.com/
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rAVe Produces Digital Signage Video Aimed at Motivating AV Dealers to Get Into the DS Market!
Last week, we debuted an all-new five-minute video that’s designed to educate the AV market on why they need to get into the Digital Signage market. The video, produced by rAVe [Publications] includes all sorts of statistics of the growth of the digital signage market as well as how AV dealers can take advantage of both the gear margins in DS as well as the ad revenue (recurring) revenue opportunity.
The video can be played directly from the rAVe Pubs website here.
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InfoComm Adds Digital Signage Conference
Building upon its worldwide display and electronic conferences, DisplaySearch, the worldwide leader in display market research, today announced that it has partnered with InfoComm to co-locate its 4th annual Digital Signage Conference with InfoComm 2011 in Orlando, Florida. The annual conference, which focuses on both the digital signage business and advanced display technologies for the segment, will be held on June 14 during InfoComm 2011 at the Orange County Convention Center.
The conference will bring together the world’s largest display vendors, the world’s largest IT companies and companies already well established in out-of-home digital signage environments. Additionally, they will be joined by new ventures that digital displays are helping to foster. Applications to be examined include: mass transit, mixed-use information and advertising signage; electronic menu boards; higher education installations; point-of-sale and dynamic signage for retail; corporate mass-communication networks; out-of-home advertising/information/security messaging; and emerging solutions for the outdoor portion of the out-of-home market.
An agenda for the 2011 Conference isn’t online yet, but to see what they covered at the 2010 version of the event, go here: http://www.cvent.com/EVENTS/Info/Summary.aspx?e=e3a9e730-84a7-40a3-9372-2c2c8a489d5a
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DSE Announces Educational Tracks
DSE is adding 11 new seminar topics in its Interactive Technology and Network Operations educational tracks within a reformatted and expanded Conference Seminar Program on February 22-25, 2011, in Las Vegas.
The Network Operations Seminar Program is comprised of five individual hour-long seminars and will focus on the operational requirements of revenue-generating digital signage systems in such venues as retail, restaurants, health clubs and transportation facilities as well as the requirements for systems operations in such institutional venues as higher education, healthcare facilities and government agencies. Topics to be covered include:
- Digital Signage System Design
- Proof of Performance
- Pre-Installation & Rollout
- Incorporating & Managing New Technology
- DOOH Network Management
The Interactive Technology Seminar Program is comprised of six individual hour-long seminars and will provide information and education on the application of a range of interactive technologies, including enhancing the user experience, increasing sales and providing directions. Topics to be covered include:
- Interactive A to Z: Now & Future Technologies & Applications
- Using Interactive Technology to Lift Sales & Drive Revenue
- Using Mobile, Touch & Other Interactive Technologies to Validate User Engagement & Campaign Effectiveness
- Using Interactive Technology to Entertain & Engage Customers & Visitors
- Using Interactive Technology to Inform & Direct
- Using Interactive Digital Signage to Rev up Events!
Sessions will be a combination of case study presentations and panel discussions designed to involve and engage attendees. Sessions will be led by professionals and end-users who will share their hard-earned experience. The faculty members come from a variety of disciplines within DOOH Networks, as well as end-users from the advertising, hospitality, retail grocery, stadium/arena and transportation fields along with knowledgeable industry consultants and technology providers.
TO sign up for any seminar, go here: http://digitalsignageexpo.net/DigitalSignageExpo/Overview.aspx
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rAVe Covers Almo E4 Digital Signage Expo
In addition to blogging and tweeting directly from the show floor at Almo’s E4 AV Tour this month, we shot dozens of videos covering all the newest technology in digital signage -- and it’s all stuff actually shipping. In addition, we actually posted PDFs of all the educational training sessions held at the show, including InfoComm Executive Director Randy Lemke’s keynote, rAVe Founder Gary Kayye’s, Think Bigger: Think DSN session and four other training session all covering technology topics related to digital signage.
We actually set up an E4 AV Tour Web portal that contains everything from the show, so take a look here: http://www.ravepubs.com/e4
Here are some products that we thought you should know about that we shot videos of at the E4 Show:
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SpinetiX Launches 1080p Media Player
Still based on the same basic ultra-compact design concept that made SpinetiX a rAVe Best of DSE Award Winner, the company’s newest media player, the HMP200, uses only 7 watts of power due to its solid state storage design. As well as decoding HD video, the HMP200 can publish data, audio, and dynamic content from RSS feeds, widgets and instant messaging using SpinetiX’s own Fusion software, which resides inside the unit and is part of the package.
Check out all the specs here: http://www.spinetix.com/hmp200
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Ronin Reports Nearly 150 Percent Revenue Increase
Wireless Ronin reported revenue of $2.7 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2010, a 148 percent increase from $1.1 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2009. As of September 30, 2010, the company had received purchase orders totaling approximately $1.7 million for which it had not recognized revenue. And, for the third quarter of fiscal 2010, the company’s recurring hosting and support revenue totaled approximately $0.4 million, representing a year-over-year increase of approximately 189 percent.
To read the detailed report, go here: http://www.wirelessronin.com/6.0_news_152.html
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Sharp Shows 60" Touch Screen LCD
The new PN-L601B is Sharp’s answer to its (thus far) lack of success in the digital signage market in the form of a 60” touch screen LCD. An ENERGY STAR-qualified native 1080p monitor, the PN-L601B has Sharp’s UV2A photo alignment and Full Array LED backlight technologies. It uses an infrared detection system, which uses multiple infrared sensors to pinpoint the location of the user’s onscreen finger or touch pen movements to, according to Sharp, virtually eliminate the perception of misalignment.
Sharp developed intuitive pen software specifically for the PN-L601B with a user-friendly interface that enables the selection of pen colors and eraser functions with a click of the touch pen button. Once images are displayed on the screen, users can draw directly on them with a touch pen or their finger to quickly make notes and reference marks. These images, with notations, can then be saved as a file on a PC or printed. The monitor has a list price of $13,195 and ships later this month.
To download a PDF flyer of the PN-L601B with complete specs, go here.
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rAVe Founder to Deliver All-New Digital Signage Seminar in New York City in December
Did you know less than 16 percent of digital signage installations are done by ProAV integrators? Even the HomeAV market’s doing more digital signage installations than ProAV! rAVe founder Gary Kayye has partnered with ALMO Pro A/V to fix that. He’s developed a six-step process for adding a profitable digital signage department to your business. And, it all includes products and technology on display right after his ALMO E4’s spotlight course.
Want to attend? Well, to hear Gary in New York City on December 15th, go here to register: http://www.almoproav.com/Events/e4/
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Black Box Adds Outdoor DS Enclosure
If you do outdoor DS installs, Black Box hopes you’ll use its new outdoor DS line of LCD enclosures. The IP54-rated enclosures feature a fully sealed and tamper-resistant design with an anti-reflective, 4-mm tempered glass window on the front that enables clear viewing when the cover is closed. Versions are available for 30"-32", 40"-42", 46"-47", and 50"-52" displays.
The enclosures have integrated fan cooling and air movement features with a display depth that enables air to circulate at the front of the window. But they’re also available with AC cooling, as well as with built-in heaters and in special configurations for touch screen and back-to-back screen applications.
Complete specs are here: http://www.blackbox.com/go/DispEnc
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Barco's OVL Videowall Features "Cool" LED Engine
Barco offers its new OVL video wall range, which the company claims is “the most efficient LED video wall available today,” in 4:3 ratio, with screen sizes up to 80 inches.
The new OVL series has an advanced heat management system based on liquid cooling technology to bring the LED temperature down to the optimal level. This results in what they claim is significantly longer lifetime of the projection system, amounting to 80,000 hours of continuous operation in eco-mode or, as Barco says, "a 35 percent improvement over competing video walls.”
Want specs? Go here: http://www.barco.com/en/controlrooms/product/2325
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Nielsen's Corporate Office Lit Up By Arsenal Media DS
By Dave Haynes
Denys Lavigne of Arsenal Media has been telling me for a while now about a project his company was working on for The Nielsen Company’s executive offices in Connecticut. That project is now switched on, and Lavigne has passed along a link to a video case study that explains what was done and why.
I like this for a lot of reasons that go well beyond Lavigne being a client and friend. It has the desired Wow factor, uses technology where appropriate, and represents a fully-realized communications strategy.
I also like it for the case study. This is a business built on visuals, and while I make my money mostly from writing about companies and projects, video is really, really powerful in conveying what’s being done and why. I like the mix of architectural drawings, footage of the screens in action, and the ambient visuals. The techno dance music that irritates the hell out of me in most video demos is actually pretty good on this one.
The project was developed for the research giant’s corporate lobby in Wilton, Connecticut. There are three content zones, and a specific content strategy was adapted for each of the display technologies used, and where they are positioned.
Arsenal worked with the Nielsen marketing, infrastructure and real estate teams to formulate the strategy.
When people come into the lobby, they see a 5x5 wall of Christie MicroTiles (Arsenal does a lot of work with them), driven by a Real Media interactive server and a Christie Vista Spyder video processor. The wall has a laser camera and infrared sensor so that it can respond to gestures, using Float4 software.
The content responds to people walking by and gesturing, and there is, among a few things, a spinning globe that can be played with to locate offices around the world.
Deeper into the lobby, there’s a horizontal row of six Orion bezel-less plasma displays,also running off a Christie Vista Spyder and Key West digital signage software. That zone is intended for welcome messaging and consumer insights.
There’s a third zone with a single LCD display, running Key West that has a seven-minute loop of quiz material.
I like this on every level, though obviously it’s not a job just any old company can afford to commission. The street price on the tiles alone would approach six figures. But it shows what’s possible, and reflects a project that STARTED with the content discussion.
From a marketing perspective, this kind of video case study should be done far more often by integrators, strategists and content companies.
To watch a video on the install, click here.
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So, that's rAVe DS [Digital Signage] for this month! Remember, we are here to HELP the AV market penetrate the DS market. Only 12 percent of the DS market is integrated by AV companies. The other 88 percent is IT-based. Now, there are AV publications and even an association that would like to draw those IT people in to AV (it would increase readers, right? - and more readers means they can charge more for ads). That is NOT what we are doing. rAVe DS is specifically designed to pull AV into the DS market and teach AV companies how to take business away from the currently dominated by IT market.
For those of you NEW to rAVe, you just read a 100% opinionated ePublication that's designed to help AV integrators. We not only report the news and new product stories of the digital signage industry, but we stuff the articles full of our opinions. That may include (but is not limited to) whether or not the product is even worth looking at, challenging the manufacturers on their specifications, calling a marketing-spec bluff and suggesting ways integrators market their products better. But, one thing is for sure, we are NOT a trade publication that gets paid for running editorial or product stories. Traditional trade publications get paid to run product stories -- that's why you see what you see in most of the pubs out there. We are different: we run what we want to run and NO ONE is going to pay us to write anything good (or bad).
Don't like us, then go away -- unsubscribe! Just use the link below.
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rAVe [Publications] has been around since 2003, when we launched our original newsletter rAVe ProAV Edition. rAVe HomeAV Edition, co-published with CEDIA, launched in February, 2004. rAVe Rental [and Staging] launched in November 2007. rAVe ED [Education] launched in May 2008. rAVe DS [Digital Signage] was launched in January 2009.
To read more about my background, our team, and what we do, go to http://www.ravepubs.com
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