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Bidooh sets its sights on cracking the US market

Originally published in Manchester Evening News Business Magazine here

Real-time advertising specialists Bidooh is gearing up for further global growth after successfully listing its DOOH tokens on the CoinAll and DDEX exchanges, as Ben Rooth discovers...

A CUTTING-EDGE tech firm that’s behind the world’s first facial analysis software for digital billboards has announced ambitious plans to conquer the lucrative US advertising marketplace.

Bidooh uses facial analysis cameras within billboards to identify characteristics from passers-by, such as their age or gender and subsequently use that information to provide tailored adverts.

The GDPR-compliant technology works by plugging a ‘Bidooh Box’, containing the cameras and artificial intelligence (AI), into the HDMI port of any screen.

Late last month, the Manchester-based start-up listed its DOOH tokens on the CoinAll and DDEX exchanges. These listings follow the completion of Bidooh’s initial coin offering (ICO) in December last year.

The company now intends to establish a presence in America for the first time after successfully rolling out its screens across the UK and Europe over the past two years.

Last autumn, it announced that it also intends to launch in South Korea, in Asia.

Co-founder and chief executive Abdul Alim explains: “We’re currently in the process of expanding the number of partners we work with across the world.

“We now have a new partner in place in California who has recently ordered three test screens. “In addition, we have a partner in South Korea who now has test screens in place. “Our customers are telling us that they greatly like the fact that they can be sat in an office in Britain – or anywhere else – while being able to quickly and effectively advertise across the world.”

Alim maintains that the rapid success of Bidooh is because it “cuts out the middlemen” who’ve traditionally dominated the advertising industry.

It achieves this “by implementing the blockchain to make the process much smarter”.

Bidooh’s automated platform allows advertisers to measure who has viewed each message and to adjust their plan, in real-time, accordingly. Because ads can be published in minutes – with no minimum spend or media commitment – the platform can be used by anyone from local businesses to international brands.

And Bidooh’s proposition is proving attractive to investors. “In the first eight days of trading, we received $20,000 (£15,300) a day in transactions,” explained Alim. “Those who invest in the tokens have the option of spending them immediately or hanging onto them. “One customer in Romania spent £6,000 on tokens and immediately booked a year’s worth of advertising. “Other customers don’t have a known reason for buying the tokens and will wait to see if their value rises.

“This will be the first of many listings of our DOOH tokens that we intend to place on exchanges over the next month.”

Alim and his cofounder Shaz Mughal had the idea for Bidooh in 2014 after drawing inspiration from the Hollywood movie, Minority Report. In the film, actor Tom Cruise walks towards a screen which – on recognising him – instantly changes to showcase relevant information.

Alim believes that a major turning point in Bidooh’s success occurred when Manchester-based angel investor and venture capitalist Michael Edelson recognised the platform’s potential and became the company’s lead investor and chairman. Edelson has also been a director of Manchester United since 1982.

Alim added: “Michael’s involvement has been pivotal to our success on so many different levels. “In addition to facilitating many introductions and opening many doors, his presence gives our brand a power that I don’t believe we’d otherwise have achieved so quickly.”

"We have been very impressed with the team
and the backing they have from Michael Edelson"

- William Lee, Coinall



This sentiment was echoed by William Lee, listing manager of CoinAll, on which Bidooh’s tokens listed last month. He explained: “We’ve been watching Bidooh since the very beginning – it’s very rare to see a project live with a minimum viable product (MVP) that’s already servicing clients. “We have been very impressed with the team and the backing they have from Michael Edelson. “As a result, we are very happy that they have chosen to list with CoinAll Exchange.”

In the wake of successfully listing its DOOH tokens, Alim believes that Bidooh’s potential for further global traction is now gaining momentum.

“Our technology works particularly well in airports and shopping centres – but it can equally work effectively in destinations as diverse as book stores and corporate offices,” he explained. “One of the main benefits is that our customers know precisely what their return on investment is.”

Dr Gordon Fletcher, an expert in digital culture and practice at the University of Salford, praised Bidooh for attempting to disrupt a traditional sector. He explained: “Attempting to disrupt any traditional sector is always worth applauding but the business model being offered always needs to offer genuine value for those participating. “There is a real focus on the small business and small scale advertiser who would not normally engage in this type of medium. “This certainly is offering new value to a new audience.

“Display advertising does have a long way to go with its digital transformation and Bidooh’s white paper highlights many of the issues. “The addition of facial recognition is a relatively obvious direction for outdoor advertising – despite its overtones of Big Brother – in becoming more targeted in the ways as Facebook or Google advertising.

“Identifying age, gender, repeat visits, height, ethnicity and emotions from a quick scan from a range of angles is possible – as has previously been proven by the ominously named Predator software – but still definitely technically challenging.”

Nonetheless, Dr Fletcher also believes that a few “challenges” lie ahead for Bidooh. “The first challenge is to find physical sites that must be powered and connected – and then how to tackle the presence of the many larger and better established agencies,” explained Dr Fletcher. “This challenge then introduces the second challenge of scale. “At small scale – as a network of sites scattered around the world – there could be some difficulty finding enough people to match the desired characteristics to display an appropriate advertisement.

“Nonetheless, the company and the idea itself shows that there is undoubtedly a creative and innovative tech powerhouse here in Greater Manchester.”