Loop Media, Inc. Uplists To NYSE, Poised To Disrupt Largely Untapped Digital Out Of Home Streaming Market
The global digital out of home (DOOH) market could reach $58.67 billion by 2031 at an 11.6% compound annual growth rate, driven by digital entertainment with the fastest growth rate of 14.9% from 2022 to 2031, according to a report by Allied Market in 2022. Particularly as businesses restructure and explore ways to bring consumers back in the door following the Covid-19 interventions, the demand for entertainment content and custom solutions and brick-and-mortar business venues has surged.
Loop Media, Inc., dubbed the “Roku for business” by Roth Capital for its multi-channel streaming platform that provides curated music video and branded entertainment channels for businesses, recently uplisted to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), positioning itself to lead the way on the out-of-home streaming market. The DOOH space has seen an emergence of players deploying new technologies and imaginative approaches, resulting in an improved experience for all stakeholders – business owners, venue patrons, content creators, and B2B partner entities of streaming networks – and the supply is slowly catching up to demand.
In-venue Content’s Rocky Past
The options for high quality, engaging in-venue digital entertainment content for businesses have traditionally been inadequate. Entertainment content offerings have been isolated from content management systems (CMS), so proprietors have become accustomed to paying for both – separately and from different providers – costly especially for small businesses. Even today, many small and mid-sized businesses pay for audio, video, and custom signage (e.g., programmable drink specials or other bespoke messages) from multiple providers.
Such services have often been low quality and operated as more of an afterthought by already overworked employees. But the rapid expansion of Advertising Video On Demand (AVOD), also known as Free Advertising TV (FAST), places the cost burden on the advertisers in the value chain.
"I figured there was a catch with Loop because nothing is ever free or easy… But I just plugged in and put on the surf channel and that was about 6 months ago. I get $40 in gift cards every month that I give to my employees as rewards,” said Dante DelGrosso of MotoPizza.
These advertisers are often happy to cover the cost for venues, providing free content to their patrons because the customers at these establishments function as a captive audience for ads on the streaming. “Disparate ad-delivery technology solutions and lack of scalable hardware meant SMBs had no obvious turnkey solution to connect their in-store customers to their brand partners. Additionally, advertisers needed to quantify and qualify the audiences they were paying to reach and required a consistent AVOD product that could reach multiple markets,” said Joshua Otten, chief executive officer of ALTRD.TV.
However, not all approaches for DOOH are equally effective. Following six years of iterative customer discovery and product development, Loop created a turnkey, all-in-one solution that solves for what businesses are looking for – a sleek, small, and robust piece of custom hardware – through its Loop Player and Loop Interface, providing customized CMS and control of a comprehensive entertainment content library containing more rights and clearance for music use than others in the sector.
“Loop Media is revolutionizing the DOOH space by bringing high-quality video content to businesses and consumers in a seamless and engaging way. Its expansive reach and premium content library make it an important client for SpringServe. Loop is passionate in looking for ways to improve viewing experiences. Their collaborative spirit makes them an ideal partner in solving problems and uncovering new opportunities,” said Joe Hirsch, general manager at SpringServe, an advertising partner for Loop.
Loop Media’s journey
Jon Niermann, Loop Media’s co-founder and chief executive officer, has had a career in the management and production of content. Following the surge of video content in the days of MTV in the 1980s, Niermann sensed that music videos had not come anywhere near their true potential for audience engagement and that the primary barrier was in the delivery format and degree of customization. While Google and YouTube eventually became mainstream, these platforms still required users to search for content and take ownership over all the logistics.
After entertainment and media executive roles with Disney and EA sports, Niermann teamed with Loop’s three other co-founders – Liam McCallum (also from EA sports), Justis Kao (who had a music and production career), and Shawn Driscoll (who also came from music and finance background) – to create Loop Media, Inc. in 2016, a “Spotify-for-music-videos” consumer-facing app-based company. Driscoll introduced Niermann to Mark Vrieling, who launched ScreenPlay Entertainment in 1990, becoming a pivotal moment: Vrieling and his team had experimented with placing screens in video rental stores, including Blockbuster, above the cash register playing select movie trailers. They shortly discovered a direct correlation between playing a trailer and the number of rentals of the corresponding trailers.
ScreenPlay had also acquired the library of Muzak – the popular instrumental “elevator music” company – to add music videos to its library of movie trailers to leverage the promotional power of screens in bars and restaurants. Seeing the potential to modernize, diversify and scale that business to build a connected national "network" of out-of-home screens, Niermann led up a deal with Vrieling for Loop to acquire ScreenPlay in 2018, and established plans to expand the industry verticals where it had screens in partner establishments. They continued to use the in-business screens to promote the app to captive audiences.
While Loop understood that it was correct about the demand for out-of-home screens, their marketing efforts were expensive and not delivering the value it anticipated. Shortly after, Niermann and the team realized that they had to prioritize serving the businesses themselves. Since they already had a deep understanding of the pain points and thin margins that operators in hospitality and retail faced, they went all-in on solving basic entertainment and content needs. McCallum, known among the Loop team as the “tech wizard,” had already created hardware that could deliver an exceptional end-to-end experience for users. The Loop Player and Loop Interface are now leveraged by more than 12,500 quarterly user establishments.
Loop Media has departed the OTC market for the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to not only grow its sizable vertical network, but also innovate with advertising and data partners, such as SpringServe and ComScore. It now boasts over 200 channels of music and non-music content in an effort to expand and diversify its portfolio and reach.
Some channel titles are built around bespoke branded content provided by well-known properties, including Bloomberg, TikTok, Blusher, and GoPro. All of these channels are carefully created and curated with a deep understanding of what kind of video and audio content performs best out-of-home. From years of product iteration, Loop has learned that short-form, big, bright, punchy content are best practices. A public venue is not the place to watch an entire series or movie, which is what consumer focused streaming companies provide.
Loop’s years of background with consumer-centric music, coupled with an experienced team of music industry veterans, including its attraction of Andy Schoun, co-founder of Revolt TV, several years ago, positions it for competitive differentiation in the entertainment industry. For example, Loop recently curated an interactive concert inside a Dallas-based Texas Roadhouse restaurant where Erin Kinsey, a Loop-featured artist, performed for venue patrons and fans.
“Loop has always led the vast out-of-home venue-based video viewing market. But its hands-on approach with both venue operators and artists to innovate, experiment, and deliver new in-venue experiences that both delight patrons and monetize is what sets it apart from others in the space. Loop and its customers now enable artists to reach an entirely new out-of-home audience segment. That’s a significant potential win-win-win for the artists, Loop’s business customers, and for their patrons as well,” said Peter Csathy, owner of Creative Media.
“Consumers viewed content exclusively through cable and satellite a decade ago. Random streaming companies that are now household names were just starting to emerge. That’s exactly where millions of businesses are today, so that evolution is just beginning. Streaming relatively quickly took control of a majority of the consumer market, but businesses have never had a viable option to stream relevant content that works on multiple public screens with an all-in-solution until now. So, in a way, we’ve had a preview of how this story plays out, not only domestically but globally. Loop is leading the way with that transformation,” said Jon Niermann.
Hiring Bob Gruters as their chief revenue officer was the last integral part of the overall growth strategy. “My mandate upon joining was to go to these valued advertising partners – current and future – and ask them ‘how can Loop be the ultimate petri dish of experimentation to fulfill your wildest dreams in what a streaming network could do for you,’” Gruters said. Gruters has held key leadership positions that span television, digital, print and other out-of-home media, having worked at Sony, Viacom, Univision, Revolt, Facebook, Digital Trends Media Group along with agency giants such as Publicis and Saatchi & Saatchi, publishing giants Hearst & Conde Nast, and global out-of-home advertising firms like JCDecaux & Gannett.
Loop has also pioneered a watch-to-learn rewards program that began during the peak of the pandemic with the intent of paying forward to those who need relief most at the time – the brick-and-mortar small and mid-sized businesses. Rewards were distributed based on the number of Loop Players in an establishment and by duration of time left on. The program has become a key part of the year-round operating model for Loop, recently showcased at a thought leadership panel on the subject of Reimagining the B2B Rewards Landscape at Fast Company’s Innovation Festival in early October, 2022, in New York City.