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 / Winter 2008 /Issue 53(originally published by Booz & Company)


Major Media in the Shopping Aisle

Quality of engagement. Video remains the preferred way to deliver emotional impact and build brand equity. And thus far, only broadcast TV and cable advertising can consistently deliver high-impact campaigns to large audiences. The Internet is rapidly becoming a video medium, but it is still difficult for advertisers to achieve comparable reach online without aggregating one purchase across a number of sites — a daunting prospect for advertising media buyers. To counter the perception that the higher production values of home television make brands look better than retail store displays ever could, in-store video ad networks will need to develop research that demonstrates the ad recall and influence of their campaigns. They will need to show that the ads have an impact on consumers; that they are complementary to ads running on traditional broadcast and cable TV; and that they can represent an essential part of an integrated campaign.

  A Premier Retail Networks video screen
  at a checkout station. 
  Photograph © Premier Retail Networks
In-store video advertising offers some distinct advantages over ads viewed on TV at home. There is only one channel to watch, and it’s less likely the consumer will be multitasking across media platforms. The audience is also likely in a better frame of mind to pay attention to advertising messages while shopping in stores than when watching television at home or surfing online. Indeed, consumers’ ability to tune out ads is reflected in plummeting click-through rates for banner ads on the Web.

And the potential for customer appreciation is also high. For example, in complex categories, such as digital cameras or lawn and garden pest control products, consumers often walk away from the shelves confused, without making a purchase. In-store video can help, providing in-depth information and education, reinforcing brand awareness and preference, and helping marketers learn what consumers are looking for.

To be sure, consumer products companies, their agencies, and their media partners have not yet fully adapted the techniques they need to produce ads for this new environment. When online advertising took off, a set of new ways to create, package, and buy ads rapidly emerged. In-store video advertising has yet to undergo such a transition. It relies heavily on the traditional practices of mass-market television. For example, the average consumer watches only about one minute of programming per store visit and catches less than 10 seconds of the average video segment before walking past. But the industry continues to produce the traditional 30-second spot. In-store video advertising networks and their content partners will need to invest in higher-quality creative work that is customized to this environment.

Other forms of in-store advertising could become as targeted and relevant as the ads that appear today next to Internet search results, calibrated to match the subject of the search. MediaCart, for example, has designed shopping carts, in conjunction with Microsoft and Wakefern, that take in consumer data when shoppers scan their loyalty cards into handheld scanners in Wakefern’s ShopRite stores. If customers have previ­ously made a shopping list online and linked it to the loy­alty card, the cart can help them find those items more easily. It can also inform them when items they have bought in the past are on sale. Advertisers can analyze ad performance data and make special offers that apply directly to particular consumers. The carts also feature automated shopping lists linked to maps of the store aisles, recipe and health information, and electronic coupons.

Other interactive systems will link promotional displays and kiosks to consumers’ mobile phones. People interested in learning more about a product could text for additional information, or opt to have offers “pushed” to their handheld devices. Information on a product might show up on the phone when a consumer moves past a “smart” display. Much of this information will be sent only with consumers’ permission, after they request information from a kiosk or sign up for a mobile service offered as part of a shopper loyalty program.

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  1. Tom Ehrenfeld, “Starbucks and the Power of Story,” s+b, Summer 2008: Overview of books about the preeminent creator of retail experience — without (much) in-store media (yet).
  2. Rich Kauffeld, Johan Sauer, and Sara Bergson, “Partners at the Point of Sale,” s+b, Autumn 2007: Explains why shelf-centered collaboration between manufacturers and retailers can provide the behind-the-scenes infrastructure needed for in-store media to truly connect.
  3. A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan, The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation (Crown Business, 2008): Contains the P&G CEO’s description of two “moments of truth” for reaching consumers: at the shelf and during each use of the product.
  4. Leslie Moeller and Edward Landry, with Theodore Kinni, The Four Pillars of Profit-Driven Marketing: A Proven System for Maximizing Creativity, Profitability and ROI (forthcoming; McGraw-Hill, 2009): Detailed guide to practices and organizational processes needed to implement any form of marketing metrics, including those required for in-store marketing.
  5. Tom Ryan, “Walmart Introduces Smart Network,” RetailWire, Sept. 4, 2008: News article about the introduction of this IPTV network to 2,700 stores.
  6. Christopher Vollmer, with Geoffrey Precourt, Always On: Advertising, Marketing, and Media in an Era of Consumer Control (McGraw-Hill, 2008): The digital age has reshaped all marketing imperatives and the industry as well; compelling context that shows why the moment is right for in-store media.
  7. In-Store Marketing Institute Web site: Electronic home of the PRISM project for measuring the effectiveness of in-store media.
  8. For more articles on marketing and sales, sign up for s+b’s RSS feed.
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