Tuesday, November 22, 2005

ClearChannel to try out mall digital signage

According to aka.tv, media giant ClearChannel is further experimenting with digital signage, this time trying out the advertising technology in a number of US malls, starting with about 10 each in New York and Los Angeles. They note that:

Content on the network will run on a 15-minute loop with 30-second commercial spots - a format that Clear Channel says will make it convenient for advertisers to run standard made-for-TV ads. Early advertising applications will include promotional campaigns and programming tied to a specific day, week, month or season, with ad content coming from non-traditional media as well as television and other video campaigns. While Clear Channel recognizes the network as “especially attractive to retailers”, the first signed advertiser is Ray Catena Infiniti, a local car dealer in New Jersey.

Clear Channel says that the ads create a cost-effective way for advertisers to reach consumers in a captive, entertainment environment at the point of purchase.

While I'll certainly agree about the effectiveness of in-mall digital signage (and in fact, Arbitron's past research on this very subject backs us up even more), I'm not convinced that simply re-displaying TV ads on in-mall digital screens is going to have significant impact.
In its announcement of the new network, Clear Channel quoted figures from Starch Research Services that show shopping mall food courts provides the longest exposure to a selling message – 32 minutes – versus other shopping mall locales.
It also quotes ICSC research as showing that:
  • 45 percent of all people who visit the mall make a food-court purchase, resulting in average sale-per-square-foot of over 3 times higher than all other stores.
  • More than 50 percent of all shoppers felt they were staying longer because they could break to eat or drink something at the food court.
Advertisers on the new network will be able to change content remotely, and place advertising by mall, region and day-part, according to Clear Channel. “It will be sliced and diced just like television,” said Baker, who described mall advertising as moving from the realm of non-traditional media into the mainstream.

Again, the "like television" part concerns me a little bit. Increasing amounts of research show that in-store advertising is not really at all like television. I guess it might be different in a mall concourse or food court setting, where consumers aren't actively shopping, and thus might be more receptive to the passive medium.

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