|Service provider MMX manages all content, including playlists and local ad insertions, from central offices while preserving bandwidth, minimising costs and opening new revenue streams|
Audio over IP pioneer Barix is helping MMX In-Store Media, one of three arms comprising MMX Companies, efficiently manage and deliver music and advertising content to three retail businesses in Zimbabwe.
Using Barix’s SoundScape cloud-based platform, MMX In-Store Media has transitioned from an FTP-based playout system to a fully integrated streaming service that minimises the costs and labour associated with long-distance, multipoint audio content delivery. The initial SoundScape deployment supports nearly 100 locations—including 60 branches of the TM Pick and Pay supermarket chain across Zimbabwe—with plans to scale to many additional locations as more clients sign on for the service.
Need for cost reduction
The transition to SoundScape followed an effort to develop an IP-based delivery system in house. That effort was born out of need to reduce the costs of delivering in-store media content over satellite, which remains a popular yet expensive distribution platform in Africa.
“We worked with a developer who was keen on building something from the ground up, but the costs proved too high for all involved,” said Brendon Sole, director, MMX Companies. “We wanted a more flexible and less expensive alternative to satellite, and Zimbabwe actually has fairly good connectivity compared to the rest of Africa thanks to investment in fibre-optic links. We initially deployed Barix’s FTP-based system, which worked well, but our goal was a more cloud-based system with content management portal that was easy to configure and use. SoundScape was the answer to that goal.”
Enhancing visibility of content lifecycle
SoundScape has significantly improved visibility into the content lifecycle, according to Sole. “We see what is really going on with music delivery in the stores, and the scheduling of ads across various locations. It’s a very important tool for proving that ads are being delivered and broadcast. There is a clear record of reconciliation, as opposed to asking advertisers to trust that their spots are playing off a local USB stick. It’s much easier to sell ad space using SoundScape because of that proof of delivery.”
|“The central benefit to SoundScape is efficiency; the ability to program playlists and make changes at the drop of a hat across multiple stores and clusters is enormously helpful”|
SoundScape is a fully integrated live and scheduled streaming service that brings together cloud-based content management, end point playout and global monitoring capabilities in a highly programmable, user-friendly package, and eliminates the complex integration and management of many different components to deliver branded audio to customers. Service providers like MMX In-Store Media can quickly launch a SoundScape service with a subscription and IP audio players at each end location, and immediately start reliably delivering music and advertising to restaurants, stores, hotels and public facilities. Barix’s upfront SaaS-based “pay as you go” price model, along with SoundScape’s infinite scalability, also ensures attainable long-term expansion goals are reachable while maintaining overall low total cost of ownership. Advanced features, which include dynamic ad insertion for each location, enable new revenue generating streams and an accelerated return on investment.
“The central benefit to SoundScape is efficiency; the ability to program playlists and make changes at the drop of a hat across multiple stores and clusters is enormously helpful,” said Sole. “For example, we have an urban cluster and a rural cluster of stores, each with different demographics that require distinct music and ads – not to mention different languages. SoundScape makes it very easy to serve these different groups and clusters with targeted audio content. The reliability of Barix can also not be understated. The Exstreamer SoundScape IP audio players at the stores are built like a tank, with a futureproof design that will keep hardware costs minimal for many years.”
Moving forward, beyond extending the SoundScape network to additional locations, Sole expects to better leverage SoundScape’s extensive system monitoring capabilities, which provide detailed insight into performance down to each remote player. For now, he’s relying on system alerts within the central SoundScape portal, which help to support basic troubleshooting needs. He also hopes to utilise SoundScape’s live streaming capabilities in the future, as opposed to the purely schedule-based configuration of the initial deployment.
“While network connectivity is good, bandwidth remains quite expensive in Zimbabwe,” said Sole. “We intend to first utilise live streaming outside of peak hours, and eventually implement a live radio service for special events. We see a lot of opportunity to be creative with SoundScape in the future.”