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Dave Haynes

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"There is a 'funding model:'" Onestop on its high school hallway screen network

 
 
Four Toronto high schools have new digital screens in their halls thanks to a pilot project between the school board and Onestop Media Group.

The screens mainly display content produced by and for students, but will include some third-party messaging, though the school board balks at calling it advertising.

"There will be sponsorships," said trustee Chris Bolton, vice-chair of the Toronto District School Board. "This isn't advertising. Advertising is jeans for $39.99. Sponsorship is the milk marketing board putting forward ideas around [kids] drinking more milk."

He said the board will be very selective about who can pay to get their message onto the screens, but the criteria are still evolving and the board will be making decisions on a case-by-case basis as the pilot unfolds. Colleges and universities would be acceptable, while marketers like McDonald's, for example, would likely not pass the test.

There was a mid-week press conference around the announcement and the Marketing piece is the first attention the pilot has received from media other than knucklehead bloggers like me, if Google searches can be trusted.. 
 
"We had students at the press conference [announcing the project] who are just over the moon," said Bolton. "They'll be able to publish their work, their ideas and their stories in a medium they are extremely comfortable with."

"This is a communications network for the schools," said Michael Girgis, CEO and president, Onestop Media Group. The community itself–students, their parents, administrators–will be giving feedback and defining how the network is used. School announcements can be delivered and reinforced, student councils could ask for voting on yearbook covers, or the Toronto Transit Commission could share information about public transportation, he said.

There is a "funding model," he said, but the advertising – Girgis also prefers "sponsorships" – must deliver the right message and the right content.
 
My guess is the model is to get in the door, prove the sky didn't fall and this thing isn't the high school hallway shopping channel, and slowly get the board and parents loosening the rules. If it works, Girgis may have something. If it doesn't, he's out maybe $20K in gear and lots of legwork and resource time.  

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More Stories By Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes is one of the most seasoned professionals in the still young digital signage industry, with deep experience in everything from business development and sales to technical operations, product development and start-up strategy and fundraising. These days he is extensively working on business development and consulting for an industry big on enthusiasm but still a lot short of experience and know-how.