I arrived at the Ramp Up Manitoba office, walking into a nice, cool, air conditioned board room on a rather humid, warm day, to meet with Bryce North, CEO of Advolve Media. I arrived a tad bit early, with Bryce walking in shortly after, but still very punctual. He looked like the lead singer of a hip indie band, with his cropped hair, slightly spiked, a mix of tussled and slicked, with a pair of very “now” sunglasses. He had an air of confidence, but immediately came across as a likeable, genuine guy who, like others at Ramp Up that I have met, is obviously passionate about what he does.
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First question I straight out asked, “What is your product?” His face lit up, and he became obviously excited about showing me a promo video and explaining what their company does.
According to Bryce, “Our product is called our Mirage Mirror, which acts as the main mirrors in washrooms of trendy venues or as featured mirrors in retail locations. Each mirror has hidden sensors that when approached causes high quality video advertisements to display right through the glass in the person’s peripheral view; as if it is floating on the glass.”
Wait, what? Come at me again? I step in front of a mirror and bam, an ad pops up on the glass for me to enjoy while I am doing whatever I do in front of the mirror? YES. That apparently is exactly what happens.
“Our proprietary software is what controls the interactivity of these mirrors and is what creates that online bridge. Each mirror offers advertisers full analytical stats that measure traffic volume, ad interaction, and offer the ability to charge per each impression,” he continues.
And there is more! Bryce explains further, “The software we created, which we’ve called Volveware, was designed specially to run our mirrors. This software, along with our unique sensors, captures valuable traffic data and analytics that can measure when an individual interacts with an ad, which ad they are interacting with, how long, and at what time. This information is collected and then organized and displayed on each advertiser’s online profile, giving them full access to a live feed of how their campaign is doing. From there they will have access to tools that offer even more analytics such as campaign split testing, monthly trend analysis, and the ability to fully control which ad they upload, what time, and where.”
So, here we have an advertising medium that the viewer controls by moving in front of a mirror, that can provide almost instantaneous statistics as to how many times and for how long by each viewer the ad has been seen to an advertiser, that a client can check right away to see how their ad is performing, and even adjust when their ads run from their computer? Yes, it this really is that cool.
In some ways, I am stumped for any other way to describe it other than completely cool. I really am very impressed by this idea, how well thought out it is, how layered it is, and just how much detail has been put into this product to make a unique and powerful advertising tool. I used to write commercials for radio. I had no clue how many people heard them, if anyone did. Sometimes it felt like they were going off into a void. No more! Advertisers can know EXACTLY how many times their ads are seen and for how long….instantly. But are advertisers convinced? Are people interested in this?
According to Bryce, “So far our product has been received extremely well. The amount of positive feedback we are receiving from our advertisers and venues, and the general public is substantial. We have completed our first install at Whiskey Dix Nightclub and have gotten great feedback. Not only are we hearing how amazing our product looks, but how effective the advertising really is. Just from this one install we are getting a lot of interest as businesses are finally seeing what we can do for them.”
But wait, it gets better. Thus far, it has been successful in one sizeable, high profile location. Now, however, Advolve has begun to play in a whole new ball game, both literally and figuratively.
“We are also very excited to announce that we will be featured in Winnipeg’s new Investors Group Field stadium. We will be fully rolling out for the 2014 season, with a few units installed for the 2013 season to give a preview of what fans can expect next season. The Bombers are excited to house this technology and we are even more excited to demo how great these mirrors are going to look in a venue of this stature.”
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen; you will be seeing this technology at work at the brand new stadium in Winnipeg. What a coup for a small start-up business. What a coup it would be even for a large, more established business to get involved in the stadium project.
“Not only is this a huge PR play for us, but proves we can easily handle an operation of this capacity. It is a great venue to be in as well; with all the traffic and hype in and around the building, we can offer advertisers a great way to get exposed on a new exciting medium in Winnipeg’s newest venue.”
So, everything seems to be off to a rip roaring start for Advolve. And, the future? Well, I hope the Advolve crew has sunglasses, because things are looking bright.
As Bryce says, “In the short term, we plan to have installations all around Winnipeg in a number of different luxurious restaurants, retail, and other venue locations. Our plan is to grow our technology in Winnipeg and prove its effectiveness and capabilities before we scale nationally.”
“In the long term we want to bring Advolve national, and then across North America. Our interests are to concentrate on the retail market and develop our software to offer more interactivity with body recognition and movement. Our goal is to get to a point where we can offer retailers the ability to promote their products by playing with their customer’s reflection; whether this be changing their clothes, or helping them select different items they have for sale. We have such a unique product and software that finding a way to engage users to make easier purchases is our ultimate path to success.”
Talk about ambitious! But, with what they have done thus far, it seems that it is well within their grasp and quite achievable.
Four people are involved in Advolve, with Bryce being the CEO, David Noel being the Director of Design and Technology, Kris Luinenburg being Chief Operating Officer, and Steve Couch being Director of Software. And, as the fifth Beatle? Ramp Up Manitoba has also played an important role in the development of Advolve.
“Ramp Up Manitoba has been more than a positive experience and has offered Advolve tremendous amounts of support. The reason we have made it this far is due to how involved the Ramp Up Members got with Advolve and worked as if they believed it was their own. Any new start-up in Winnipeg should consider Ramp Up Manitoba whether they have the experience or not. I guarantee that they will find help from someone that will push them further,” asserts Bryce.
Leaving the Ramp Up Manitoba offices after a good long, enjoyable chat with Bryce, I felt like I had really seen the future of advertising with Advolve’s Mirage Mirror project. I was impressed by Bryce’s professionalism, but even more so by this product which really is quite revolutionary and sophisticated. And I left feeling pleased that this has been developed right here in Winnipeg, Manitoba. There is a certain amount of hometown pride to be felt when you see great people doing great things in your city.
Chris Hearn writes and posts videos for Spectator Tribune.