Wal-Mart's in-store TV network has been the focus of many articles that try to show what a big -- really big -- digital signage network can look like. We've seen it go through a number of physical changes and content changes, and with a recent announcement that Wal-Mart is stepping up its in-store digital media with even more screens, it looks like the world's largest retailer continues to believe in the benefit of retail digital signage.
In a new effort to both appeal to local businesses (in combination with its expansion into more urban areas, which are still dominated by smaller retailers), and make good with the locals (and maybe to find new ways to monetize the Wal-Mart TV network in the future), the Chicago Tribune notes that Wal-Mart will begin testing a service where local businesses can buy ad time on Chicago-area Wal-Mart stores to promote themselves. From the article:
"[Wal-Mart] is offering to pay for local newspaper advertising to showcase the independent stores on Wal-Mart's in-store TV network and donate funds to the local chambers of commerce. The catch: The program is only offered for economically disadvantaged inner-city neighborhoods.Clearly there's more to this situation than meets the eye, but then again this isn't the first time that Wal-Mart has given local newspapers and companies access to their retail media network.
"Chicago is the first of 10 urban markets slated to take part in the program. The remaining nine cities will be announced in February, said Todd Libbra, vice president of operations in Illinois for Wal-Mart, at a press conference Thursday at Grandma Sally's restaurant on Chicago's West Side.
"'What we're looking to do is increase jobs,' said Libbra. 'We're looking at creating economic opportunity surrounding our store.'
"Critics, however, are skeptical of the retailer's intentions and describe the community investment as a publicity stunt to burnish its ailing reputation."
Tags: Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart TV, in-store TV, digital signage, retail media network