In a couple of weeks, a small Winnipeg digital-marketing company will be centre stage at the biggest mobile-technology trade show on the planet.
Mexia Interactive has been a front-runner in a newer digital-wireless marketing niche -- location or proximity-based marketing.
Using small sensors strategically installed that can detect the presence of cellphones, various kinds of analysis can be created for airport, shopping malls, large retailers and convention centres to better understand the movement of people, measuring such things as the most effective displays and promotions.
The company was chosen to do the largest demonstration of its kind at the largest trade show of its kind for a number of reasons, all of them good for Mexia.
In an interview from Cyprus (where the company has installed systems in two airports on the island nation), company founder Glenn Tinley said the demonstration at the Super Mobility Week show in Las Vegas later this month is an important opportunity for the company.
'For us to be doing what we are doing at the level we are doing it at an event of that stature and profile is extremely gratifying. This puts us on the world stage'
-- Mexia Interactive's Glenn Tinley
"For us to be doing what we are doing at the level we are doing it, at an event of that stature and profile, is extremely gratifying," he said. "This puts us on the world stage."
The former publisher of Winnipeg Women and Winnipeg Men has been able to attract private-equity backing from former Winnipegger Peter Gustavson, through Victoria-based Gustavson Capital and has tripled its Winnipeg staff to 17 in less than a year.
Tinley believes there are a few aspects to the Mexia offering that make it stand out from the other players in the burgeoning sector, and industry experts agree, even though some of that distinction might actually limit its value in the short term.
One of the smartest things Tinley did upon launching the service was to get far out in front of privacy issues that are ingrained in any kind of passive digital-tracking scenarios.
Mexia technology tracks the MAC (Media Access Control) address, the 12-digit serial number of the wireless device, which does not link in any way to information about who owns the device.
Last October, Tinley was part of a select group of industry players associated with Washington-based Future of Privacy Forum in association with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, who agreed to a code of conduct to promote consumer privacy and responsible data use for retail location analytics.
That helped get Mexia on the radar screen of CTIA -- The Wireless Association, which produces the trade show called Super Mobility Week, which is expecting to attract 40,000 people.
Mexia will install more than 125 sensors in the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas and among other things will show a "heat map" on a large screen indicating where everyone is in real time. A special Super Mobility Week app will be available that can show people around the convention using blue-dot way-finding in a manner that could change how large conventions are produced.
"This will be THE most massive event we have ever done," said Robert Mesirow, the CTIA's vice- president of operations.
Mesirow said CTIA first heard about Mexia through its own association with the Future of Privacy Forum.
"We looked at a couple of people doing location retail analytics and Mexia was the right fit," he said.
Tinley is preparing himself for an uptick in interest after being able to show off its technology at such a high-profile event.
"We're very exited about the next 12 months," said Tinley.
The company already has the two airports in Cyprus as well as Changi Airport in Singapore and John Lennon airport in Liverpool and two unnamed U.S. shopping malls installed.
"We have a lot already going on," he said. "Our challenge right now is to manage the growth and keep up with contracts."
Aaron Strout, a location-based marketing expert from Austin, Texas, and the head of the technology practice with the W2O Group, said he believes Mexia has set itself apart from the competition by dealing with the privacy issues the way it has and providing a platform where its customers can pursue more specific communication on their own.
"I think they will do well. There are no other players that take their specific approach," Strout said. "I would be surprised if you don't see a large portion of malls, airport, retailers at least exploring or kicking the tires on these guys over the next six to 12 months."
As for the potential for convention centres, Mesirow said the Sands would be foolish if it did not retain the installation for future shows.
"This is the future of trade shows," he said. "Two years from now, every major trade show will be doing this."