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Alive Advertising: Itz & Ari Arenstein

Family business breathes new life into outdoor advertising with innovative new medium

Juliet Pitman



Itz & Ari Arenstein of Alive Advertising

A new type of billboard has not only changed the urban landscape but the entire outdoor advertising industry as well. Drive through some of Johannesburg’s major intersections and you can’t help but notice the television-type screens that advertise anything from newspaper headlines to supermarket specials. The company behind it all is Alive Advertising, run by uncle-and-nephew team, Itz and Ari Arenstein.

Itz relates how the idea for the business first came about: “I saw one of these screens at a show at Nasrec and realised there was money in it. I wondered if we could turn it into an advertising medium, which it wasn’t being used for at that time.” The idea niggled and grew and one day, sitting at a friend’s radio fitment centre watching the traffic pass by, it became clear how the business could make money.

“It could work just like an ordinary billboard at high-traffic intersections, but with many added benefits,” he explains. The first stumbling block was cost. “A local manufacturer was making the screens but they were expensive,” he says, “So we went out and designed a sales package and sold the space on the first screen before we invested money in buying it.”

Without a product to show sales prospects and considering they were pioneering a new medium, it must have been quite a sales pitch. “We ended up with six clients and on the strength of those orders, purchased our first screen and put it up in Braamfontein,” recalls Itz.

This meant that the business covered its costs from day one. It’s a model they have maintained since the beginning; selling advertising space before making a capital investment in the screens.

“As the concept started to work, we looked around for new spots,” he continues, and therein lay one of the company’s biggest challenges. Alive Advertising pays a landlord for the space to erect the screen but it also needs permission from the local council to erect the screen in a particular location.

“And that is not easy, let me tell you,” says Itz, relating how it has taken seven years to get the necessary approval to erect the first screen in Pretoria. However, perseverance has paid off and today the company has 22 screens in centres around the country.

These screens are seen by 2,4 million people a day and here’s where Alive Advertising has a unique selling point. “Unlike a traditional billboard which is static, our billboards change all the time. One of our billboards has 17 spots, not just one, and the advert comes up 480 times a day,” says Itz.

So although the screens are expensive, the number of spots the company can sell on one particular screen has enabled them to keep the costs of advertising down. Clients pay approximately R10 500 per month for a spot on a screen, which has opened up the outdoor advertising market to small and medium businesses in a way that was previously impossible.

“In addition, they are guaranteed 480 slots a day every day for an entire month,” says Itz. He adds that production costs are also very low. Whereas a television advert production carries a hefty sum, Alive

Advertising will design an advert for a client at R2 000. “An advertising agency won’t even look at you for that price,” says Itz. A sophisticated technological back-end, designed in-house by the company, provides the flexibility to change an advert in the space of two hours.
This gives the ads an immediacy that is simply not possible in other outdoor media. “It’s opened the doors for companies to advertise in such a way that is a call to immediate action. They can advertise specials that they’re running or a newspaper can display new daily headlines,” he says, adding that flexibility is the name of the game.
“We have customised everything in order to offer clients what they need, when they need it.” It’s real-time, real value and real innovation. Enter the age of the advert that lives.


25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Company Posts

Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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