‘A lot of R&D went into developing this platform’
By Rajiv Raghunath - July 02, 2018
Cab Digital Media is a 100% Australian-owned and operated start-up OOH company. The promoters spent some three years perfecting the transit digital OOH format TaxiLive with the goal of creating a highly versatile OOH platform in Australia. Shafiq Khan, Founder & Managing Director, Cab Digital Media, and Najeeb Khan, Head of Sales and Partnerships, Cab Digital Media, talk about the firm’s business journey
How did you hit upon this idea of introducing cab digital media in a very different way?In some of the other markets, such screens are placed on the car roof.
I (Shafiq) used to operate the 3rd largest EFTPOS terminal business in Australia for taxis and that was a very important basis of having deep relations in the taxi industry.
The first product, believe it or not, was a digital rooftop advertising solution in 2014. However, the taxi industry in Australia didn’t really find the top appealing. You can see that there are a lot more taxi back static advertising panels than tops in Australia. This meant that we had to stop the taxi top solution and start working on advertising on taxis in a different way. This gave birth to the idea of the TaxiLive.
Turning the idea to reality was the result of months of R&D in Australia. The benefit of the back is that in Australia we have a smaller population and a higher proportion of motorists. TaxiLive allows you to reach Australian audiences in the best way possible.
As a start-up business, what were the typical challenges that you faced in establishing your business operations? Do you operate in markets beyond Sydney?
The biggest challenges were resources and time. Good resources are very important because we never settled on quality. We used the latest 3D computing technology to perfectly design the TaxiLive format and the best quality components to build the TaxiLive business. Unfortunately, the best resources aren’t as readily available, so we had to make sure we planned everything six months in advance. That itself is very hard when you are working in a start-up environment. But with a great team we were able to pull this off.
Being the first to market is crucial, especially in the world of media and advertising. We were always constantly in a fight against time to launch.
We operate in Sydney right now and are expanding nationally from July/August 2018.
In most markets around the world there are very stringent norms regarding the use of digital OOH media for advertising in the outdoor environment. How do you adhere to the road safety norms on outdoor digital media advertising?
We built our platform (both hardware and software) to comply with the current Australian roadside laws and also be smart enough to adapt to any new regulation that may be implemented.
We don’t change creative images when a taxi is moving, but only when the taxi comes to a stop.
We adjust the screen brightness in line with sunset and sunrise times to ensure that no motorist or pedestrian gets dazzled.
We don’t play any movies, videos or animations – only a static image is allowed on our platform.
Could you explain the reach of your media? How many cars have Cab Digital Media screens?
We currently have 300 TaxiLive’s across NSW (largest state in Australia). We will expand to Melbourne (2nd largest state) in the coming months. In total we expect to have 945 TaxiLive’s by the end of 2018 across Australia.
Do you work with particular taxi companies? How is the media mounted on the cars?
We work with every taxi company. Right now, our network spans 6+ operators.
TaxiLive is actually a brand-new taxi boot for the latest Toyota Hybrid Camry’s and we replace the existing taxi boot with the TaxiLive. The installation process takes about 30-45 minutes and the owners of the taxis are given their original boot. In most cases they keep them as spare parts.
You have Telstra as your partner. What is nature of this partnership?
Telstra is the nation’s largest and fastest mobile network. Our partnership with them spans both the connectivity component of TaxiLive and the production component. Telstra saw what we were doing and helped us a lot with improving our supply chain and overall production capacity.
The commercial elements of this partnership are unfortunately confidential.
You have signed up Media Planet for TaxiLive. Please throw some light on the tie-up.
Media and Advertising is a very large world with so many customers and agencies in existence. Whilst we can easily achieve a national network of TaxiLive, developing relations with a national network of advertisers at the same pace is a little more challenging.
Partnering with Media Planet reduces the time it would take to develop relations with so many advertisers. They also bring an abundance of expertise in the Australian OOH media market which is invaluable as we continually improve TaxiLive (e.g. reporting and software).
What kind of advertising brands are showing interest in your media?
Taxis are a unique advertising platform because they spend 24 hours a day travelling to people. If crowds are in the city – taxis will go there and if crowds are in the suburbs – taxis will go there.
How do you work out the RoI for your advertisers?
Proving the ROI is very hard for any out of home medium, be it billboard, street furniture or TaxiLive. Luckily for us we do have some very smart software that makes that job easier.
Currently we are providing advertisers with display hours and location of display (e.g. heatmaps and most frequently visited areas). This way you know what’s being displayed, for how long and where.
We have also partnered with a few companies to do a proof of concept for technology that can pick up unique identification tags of people around TaxiLive. This will allow advertisers to know how many people the opportunity had to see their ads.
We are not far away from providing a reliable measurement tool.