Special Report: No. 5

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Like Archimedes, who coined the term after accidentally discovering a way to measure volume, Mike DiFranza owes much of his success to a serendipitous moment of "Eureka!" But unlike the ancient Greek mathematician, DiFranza had his revelation in an office elevator rather than an overflowing bathtub.

The president-CEO of Captivate Network Inc., Westford, Mass., found himself inside an elevator one day, unsure where to fix his gaze. Then the thought struck him: Why not give people something to look at when they're trap-ped inside a metal box shuttling them to some distant floor?

Captivate Network
Phone:(888) 383-3737
Audience:950,000 daily
Ad revenues:N/A
Ad cost:$25 to $30 CPM
Today, Captivate delivers branded content—national, local and business news, stock updates, weather forecasts, sports scores and more—via dynamic, flat-panel screens in the elevators of some 260 office towers across North America. The company estimates its broadcasts reach 950,000 people each work day. "That's a viewing audience larger than that of Forbes and Fortune," said Nancy Jackson, Captivate's VP-marketing and programming.

These impressive numbers could be just a drop in the bathtub. The company has plans to more than triple its audience by mid-2003, with a total of 1,100 buildings already under contract to use Captivate's screens.

Partnerships with The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, CNN, The Weather Channel, and others provide top-quality editorial content, Jackson said. Captivate editors reformat its partners' news into PowerPoint-like slides, which are changed at least four times a day.

While the editorial content is presented in a slide-like format, the advertising portion of the screen allows for full-motion video —sans sound, which Captivate found riders didn't want. "This allows advertisers to continue their branding campaigns easily. They can edit their TV spots to fit our space," Jackson said.

Ads change every 10 seconds, with 90 running during every 15-minute rotation. "Workers in tower office buildings take an average of six trips on an elevator per day," Jackson said. "With the average trip being about 1 minute 20 seconds, that's an average of 48 impressions per person a day."

Many national and local advertisers have begun to buy into Captivate, including Salomon Smith Barney Inc., Continental Airlines Inc., 3Com Corp., MCI WorldCom Inc., Pioneer Investments, XO Communications Inc. and Mercator Software Inc.

"It's been a fabulous experience since Day 1 of our campaign," said Donna O'Neil, general manager of Newburyport, Mass.-based Mercator Corp., a developer of market research software. "Like their name says, they deliver a truly captive audience."

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