PEI-based ScreenScape signs on with Tech Data Canada

Greg Myers

Greg Myers, vice president of marketing at Tech Data Canada

Charlottetown, PEI-based ScreenScape Networks is looking to expands its presence in the Canadian channel by inking its first-ever distribution deal, a pact with Tech Data Canada.

The company sells software and a service that delivers content for digital signage – but it doesn’t really seen itself as just another digital signage company. Rather, company founder and COO Mark Hemphill describes the company’s business as “place-based media.”

“It’s point-of-sale-focused, and aligns marketing messages with real-world sales activities,” Hemphill said. “Our goal is to help businesses connect to the places where customers are buying and using their products.”

Greg Myers, vice president of marketing at Tech Data Canada, said ScreenScape’s approach helps cover the intersection of many disciplines at which the digital signage opportunity exists for th channel.

“It’s about technology, it’s about marketing, it’s about communications and content,” Myers said. “That what they’re on to and what they’re delivering and enabling through the cloud is really quite compelling.”

ScreenScape has worked with channel partners in the past, both as resellers of its software and service and the hardware that it runs upon, and as Authorized Sales Agents that sell its Group Licenses.

The company’s model combines point-of-sales with group and advertising sales. For example, the company has had a number of beauty salons sign on for its $10/month cloud-based digital messaging service, which allows those salons to display their own message, as well as other local and relevant content, at their retail locations. But as it built a base amongst salons, a bigger opportunity emerged in the form of a relationship with consumer goods giant Proctor and Gamble to promote its beauty wares via video.

That’s where the social part of the ScreenScape model comes in – the company sold P&G a group license, which allows the company to syndicate its promotional content out to locations that would be interested in receiving it and broadcasting it to their users – such as those beauty salons.

While any solution provider can provide the hardware for the ScreenScape solution and help a local customer get connected, it’s the company’s closest partners – dubbed Authorized Sales Agents – who are empowered and enabled to connect companies with those Group Liecenses.

And because everything’s based on recurring revenues, it can be a very lucrative affair for solution providers who are in it for the long haul, Hemphill said.

Not surprisingly, ideal partners for the company are those who already have connections to the verticals where digital signage is king – retail, healthcare, foot and beverage, accommodations, recreation – but ScreenScape is also looking for loyalty, Hemphill said, preferring to build close connections with the right partners.

“We want to work with those who can give us real mind share and who will position themselves to feed off the network for some time, either through the services they add on top, or through the ASA program,” he said.

ScreenScape is one of a handful of digital signage vendors to sign on with Tech Data Canada in recent months – part of a strategy to grow that part of the business on behalf of the distributor. It’s a strategy that seems to be working – Myers said the distributor’s digital signage business in Canada is up 16 per cent in the company’s most recently-reported quarter.

“Digital signage is a hot category,” Myers said. It’s not a new category, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s still in its infancy in many ways.”

For the distributor, getting a new brand – and a Canadian one at that – further established in the channel’s collective consciousness is important. But equally important is getting a better total market view of the growing digital signage opportunity.

“Digital signage is one of our fastest-growing businesses,” Myers said.

Hemphill likewise sees the digital signage market as a massive one, but one that can still see explosive growth – likening the market to the one the smartphone phone itself in a few years ago.

“This is going from 10 per cent penetration to 80 per cent penetration over the new few years,” he said. “We want to be the operating system for that opportunity, and those who get on early will benefit for our growth and from our network effect.”

To help get the word out, ScreenScape is expected to join Tech Data’s cross-Canada Business Builder Tour when it continues its western Canada dates in the fall, and the companies will also show off their partnership at the distributor’s annual digital signage-focused event in November.

The distribution deal is Canada-specific, for now, Hemphill suggested that it would use its experience in building a partner base through distribution in Canada as a testbed for taking the relationship global. Myers said he’d be more than happy to make the appropriate connections from Charlottetown to Clearwater. “But let’s get ourselves up and running and getting traction in Canada before we start talking about that,” Myers added with a laugh.