Captivate to expand elevator network

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In today's fragmented media climate, Captivate Network figures there's only one way up. The company, which provides TV ads on elevators in office buildings, plans to double the size of its network in the next 21 months.

Mike DiFranza, president and co-founder, said he expects to expand from 4,500 screens to 8,800 in the top 20 markets. This year, Captivate expanded into Hartford, Conn., Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Captivate said it reaches 1.5 million viewers each day.

The medium has a virtually captive audience for his advertisers. "Our competition isn't that tough," he said. Viewers "are in a metal box with five other people. Their options are to look at the backs of the heads of the people in front of them, look at the numbers of floors on the display or look at Captivate's screen."

Founded in fall 1997 as a Boston-area outlet for local advertisers, Captivate's transition into a national player started in late 2000. Although the timing coincided with the start of an economic downturn, "we offered some efficiency and demonstrated reach at a time advertisers were very cost-conscious," Mr. DiFranza said.

regional programs

Captivate airs 10-second high-resolution, full-motion commercials on customized, flat-panel TV screens that run six times per hour sans audio. The screens contain text overlays with news, weather, sports and other content from various partners, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, CBS, The Weather Channel and CNN Money.

The medium has attracted advertisers including General Motors Corp., Mercedes-Benz USA, Continental Airlines, Fidelity, Verizon and IBM Corp. The network can handle 60 national advertisers at a time and also offers regional ad programs.

Captivate was acquired last month by Gannett Co., as it was "converging rapidly on profitability," Mr. DiFranza said, declining to be more specific. Cost-per-thousand on the network range from $8 to $20.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the average age of Captivate viewers is 39. Aaverage annual income is $105,000, and viewers are evenly split between men and women. Ninety-eight percent of viewers regularly watch while in the elevators, and ad recall is 45%.

Building tenants ride the elevator an average of six times daily, translating to more than two hours monthly, while visitors to office buildings average two rides daily. An average of 55% of viewers were interested in the products and services after seeing them on Captivate.

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