Iballs is a UK-based new-media company that is targeting events to reach potential customers for its clients. It is a new outdoor media that makes use of new media - each iball station is a seven-foot high, touch-screen kiosk that can be used to send video messages and e-mails.
They will be strategically placed at public venues, destinations and events and are intended to function as a consumer missile, collecting data from users and building up demographic and social details with the intention of launching a broadband channel in 2002.
A prototype is in place in Soho Square, and the NEC and Millennium Wheel are first in line for the kiosks.
Site characteristics: The kiosk itself will be wrapped by a sponsor's branding - so far the company has had interest from Pepsi and the Sci-Fi Channel - and users will be able to use the touch-screen to send video messages and e-mail to recipients in return for their e-mail address.
Victoria Real is partnering with iballs to develop the digital interface.
Target audience: This is set to vary enormously, depending on the placement of a kiosk and the time of the year. A kiosk in the NEC might be host to crowds of automotive fans going to a car exhibition one week, and then a bunch of knitting enthusiasts going to a craft exhibition the next.
The advantage of this is also that the kiosk, if it takes off of course, will be able to garner data from a whole array of respondents, not just from one target audience.
Principals: The managing director of iballs is Richard Kilgarriff, who was previously the director of programming at United News & Media's Rapture TV. Tony Greenham, previously an investment banker with Credit Suisse, is the company's finance director and James Herring - the managing director at the entertainment company Avalon - is expected to join the company later this year as the commercial director.
Backers: The first round of funding was gathered from the director and amounted to pounds 150,000. The company is in the process of securing second-round funding of pounds 500,000, and by the summer iballs will be seeking a further pounds 1.6 million in third-round funding.
Marketing: The kiosks themselves will not be marketed as such - iballs will initially be relying on its sponsors to attract attention.
Competition: Since iballs is, in itself, a new outdoor media, it is going to be competing with everything from billboards to the sides of buses. However, BT's internet kiosks and Spaced's kiosks that target clubbers are the closest fit.
THE YEAR AHEAD
The instability in the new-media market might well affect the company's chances of securing funding, but if it takes off then iballs could be a real profit maker. That's a big 'if'. - We're not convinced.