TDI Signs New Clients to Streetbeam Ads

Out-of-home advertising company TDI is seeing traction with its wireless-enhanced bus shelters and phone displays, it said, signing several advertisers to new campaigns using technology from Alley start-up Streetbeam.

TDI, a unit of Viacom-owned Infinity Broadcasting, has signed new deals with Palm, Sotheby’s, Morgan Stanley and others to roll out out-of-home advertising in New York City. The ads’ fixtures will incorporate technology from Streetbeam, which wires TDI billboards, bus shelters and public pay phone displays with the ability to beam information to PDAs.

Basically, Streetbeam — in which TDI holds a stake — installs a narrow strip along the ad’s outside edge. That strip contains a small port for infrared beaming of information to Palm OS devices, which allows users to download so-called “takeaways,” like calendars or coupons.

For instance, Sotheby’s is providing such an application containing information about its Spring 2001 Art and Antique auctions, exhibitions and viewings in New York, as well as a calendar of online auctions on Sothebys.com.

In the Palm execution, part of the company’s current campaign to promote its operating system, users will be able to download New York City-centric Palm programs — like a taxi cab fare estimator, a dating service, and a haiku-spinning application tailored to the Big Apple. That work will run through the end of June.

From then through September, Morgan Stanley will be beaming monthly calendars of upcoming financial events and financial seminars. The beamed calendars will be refreshed each month, TDI said.

The new campaigns come following a trial run with Banana Republic, in which the technology uploaded gift idea lists and information about the retailer’s credit card to users’ PDAs.

TDI isn’t disclosing the specific results of that campaign, but said that it had been sufficiently impressed with response to begin pushing the technology to existing advertisers.

“After our initial success with Banana Republic, we’re now pleased to partner with a diverse collection of established brands, including Palm, Sotheby’s and Morgan Stanley,” said TDI president Don Allman. “We are confident that Streetbeam’s success here in New York City will only continue.”

TDI also declined to disclose the specifics of its sales agreements with Palm, Sotheby’s and Morgan Stanley — which could suggest steep discounting or other special arrangements. Ultimately, then, whether the company is able to continue signing new clients to the technology should prove to be a telling indicator of its success with its current campaigns.

And with several “stealth mode” competitors preparing to enter the same field — with similar partnerships to the TDI-Streetbeam relationship — the success or failure of the current set of campaigns could spell life or death for startup Streetbeam.

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