Intel® AIM Suite – The Solution for an Industry Pain Point

Date: 
04/22/2012

We recently sat down with Intel® AIM Suite's Director of Business Development, Haroon F. Mirza. Mirza was one of the founding members and CEO of Cognovision before Intel's acquisition in September 2010.

In part one of our two-part series, Mirza describes the initial objectives of Anonymous Viewer Analytics and how AIM Suite is revolutionizing digital display effectiveness for companies. 

Question:

When your team first started working together what was the objective?  How did digital signage pop up on your horizon?

Haroon:

We were doing research on pain points in various industries and digital signage was one of the industries that came up. It seemed like a really good opportunity for us.  And that's when we decided, you know what?  This industry looks like it's got not only a pain point, it looks like a pretty big pain point, so let's see if we can create a solution to help take that pain away. 

Question:

What was the pain point in the digital signage industry? 

Haroon:  

The digital signage industry was poised for rapid growth. One major factor that was holding it back was the lack of metrics. Without audience measurement and analytics, service providers, marketers and advertisers didn’t have the information they needed to make informed decisions.   

People in the industry were talking about the need to prove to advertisers that people are watching digital signs and provide demographic information about viewers, what they watched and for how long. Without this data it was really difficult to attract advertisers. 

It was a big question mark for the industry. So, we asked ourselves, can we figure this out? Can we automate the process in a cost-effective way and help the industry grow? 

Question:

What was the competitive environment?

Haroon:

We did some high-level competitive research and we came up with one or two competitors in the start-up phase. So, it was all very nascent in the technology space; very early stages.  There was no large incumbent aside from traditional providers such as Nielsen or Arbitron who provided observational research. 

Question:

So right from the start, you were clear about the need for demographic and behavioral data?

Haroon:

Yes.  What wasn't clear, right from the start was if, in fact, there was going to be a big demand for real-time ad targeting.  Our gut told us that there was. But that was solely based on what we had seen happening on the Internet, how websites would take visitor data and use that to target advertising online. We thought the digital signage industry would like the same capability. 

But we figured that number one was to get the actual data so that the digital signage industry understands their viewership levels and can provide objective information to advertisers and marketers. And our gut told us that meeting that requirement would evolve into real-time content triggering, as well.  

Question: 

So really, your emphasis was on the data collection and analysis? Was real-time content triggering a natural evolution?   

Haroon:   

That’s right. We figured, well, we're aggregating all of the data anyway, why not do something with it, in real-time? What if we created APIs to allow third parties to access the demographic information and do interesting things, such as real-time content triggering?  So it was a very natural evolution for us to bring that to market.  

When we actually launched back in February, 2008, at the Digital Signage Expo, we were demonstrating AIM Suite as a measurement platform, but we already had an early version of a beta API to talk about content triggering.  

Question: 

How has the vision for AIM Suite changed since the Intel acquisition? 

Haroon:

At a very high level it is the same because we want to take that pain away from the industry.  While we continuously improve accuracy and add features, the core objectives remain the same – to provide real-time content triggering to enable the industry to attract and hold an audience combined with back-end analytics to provide a rich source of demographic and behavioral insight. 

However, what's evolved is learning how best to take AIM Suite to market. In the early days we thought maybe it would make sense to sell direct to end customers. But, as time progressed, we learned the importance of the channel - how important it is to work with content management system providers, resellers and integrators. These channel partners are absolutely critical to our success. 

Question: 

What have been the benefits of the Intel acquisition? 

Haroon:

With the Intel acquisition, we joined a large organization with very significant resources - most importantly, with a footprint all over the planet.  Now we have a global reach. We can sell and support AIM Suite anywhere in the world. We have the infrastructure to do it.  

We’re also now able to tell some amazing stories by collaborating on proof-of-concepts with world-class brands such as Kraft Foods, Adidas, and Proctor & Gamble. When you're a young company, you dream about working with companies like these.  It's absolutely wonderful to be able to not only collaborate with them, but to tell stories together with these brands.  

When you're walking through an Intel booth at a trade show, it's not that you're just seeing a screen with face detection technology running, you're seeing an entire solution and we're telling a story now where AIM Suite is helping to power the experience. 

I think that really resonates well with the retailers, with the brands, and with our customers and partners as they gain confidence and see how the technology can be utilized in real-world situations.  

NEXT MONTH: The Future of Intel® AIM Suite: How Intel and our providers are innovating AIM Suite.

Questions? AIM Suite Knowledge Base