Continuing our series of profiles of New Zealand BizSpark companies, we have Contrast Media. Contrast Media have developed a Mobile Tagging solution named HardLink that uses Windows Azure and Microsoft Tag (or QR Codes). You can also find a video interview with Contrast Media Director, Dave Williams, at the Microsoft Spark New Zealand website

Contrast Media receives BizSpark Boost

Mobile Tagging is a new and exciting way of connecting customers to products via interactive advertising campaigns using mobile phone tagging technology. For Contrast Media, the business of managing and enhancing this link has been made easier with the help of the Microsoft BizSpark programme.

Contrast Media Director Dave Williams has spent over 20 years in the advertising, print, multimedia and web industries. Along the way he has seen the never ending march of technology continually provide new platforms with which to connect advertisers to customers. This technology has ranged from traditional print based mediums through to kiosks, touch screen technology, the web and now, mobile.

Through innovative use of the latest in Mobile Tagging technology, Auckland-based Contrast Media is aiming to provide that all important bridge to link end users (and their camera equipped mobile phones) to advertisers.

“The Contrast Media management team, all of whom had worked together for a long period of time before forming the company, came up with the idea of a platform to enhance the possibilities of Mobile Tagging about a year ago. The beta launch of Microsoft Tag reinforced that this was a space that had massive potential so, after an awful lot of work, the HardLink platform was created,” says Williams.

Much like a turbo charged bar code, Mobile Tags mean an end user need only to pull out their phone, snap a photo of a Mobile Tag — which could be found just about anywhere; on a poster, the back of a bus, a museum exhibit, or even a TV screen — and, with a small application installed on the handset, be whisked away to a website, video content, social network, contact information or any number of things.

Williams believes now is the time for Mobile Tagging to come into its own with the aid of Contrast Media’s HardLink platform.

He says, “Everyone absolutely loves Mobile Tagging and HardLink when we give them a demo, within 10 minutes people are dreaming up new ways of using the technology - you can’t beat that for a sales engagement!”

HardLink is an end-to-end solution providing everything a business needs to run a Mobile Tagging campaign, from creating Mobile Tags through to campaign management, device capability information and full reporting.

It provides campaign managers with detailed reports across multiple advertising channels on which Tags are being snapped and by which devices. It also records the Mobile Tagging usage habits of individuals, leading to highly personal, segmented marketing opportunities.

Key challenges and benefits

“The fact that Mobile Tagging is yet to be a fully accepted concept in the mass market in New Zealand is our main issue when speaking to prospective clients – companies want to be first with the concept but are wary of carrying the burden of wide-scale education at the same time,” says Williams.

Contrast Media needed help; help that arrived in the shape of Microsoft’s BizSpark programme.

Williams says that BizSpark helped Contrast Media in a number of ways.

“Access to the full range of Microsoft products has been incredibly useful as we can use the best of breed products without cost being a barrier for us. Further cost reductions are gained due to BizSpark’s subsidised Azure charging – all in all, we save a considerable amount of cost by just being part of BizSpark.”

However, cost savings are just part of the BizSpark benefits for Contrast Media.

“We were lucky enough to make it onto the PDC Azure partners list last year; something that we’d never have been able to be part of had it not been for BizSpark. This gave us some significant publicity at an early stage,” says Williams.

In addition to significant cost savings and increased exposure BizSpark provides, Williams believes that the freedom the programme affords is key to being able to knuckle down and get on with the job of building a business.

“It allows you to concentrate on differentiating your business and stop worrying about whether you can afford the best tools and support needed to build the very best solutions. That on its own is enough reason to recommend BizSpark to any start-up.”


To be eligible for the BizSpark, a company need only be privately held, less than three years old and generate less than $1 million in revenue. In return, companies get access to Microsoft developer software and business mentorship – all for only a $100 exit fee at the end of the programme.

For more information on Microsoft BizSpark, visit www.microsoft.com/BizSpark.