Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wal-Mart to expand their digital signage network

We've already heard from PRN execs that there are about 100,000 screens in place in the Wal-Mart TV network, however up until recently they were mostly used to display the same content on multiple screens in the store. So for example, if a store might have had 50 plasma displays, but only four or five unique channels of content, each being displayed on 10 screens. In fact, up until about a year ago, there was only a single channel of content showing on every screen, regardless of where they were placed in-store. However, from the looks of this MediaWeek article, that may be about to change:

[T]he new system will enable the distribution of ads tailored not just to each deparment, but individual aisles throughout the roughly 1,200 stores and 100,000 TV screens. The new, more segmented approach allows the network, operated by Premiere Retail Networks, to sell more ads and promote products within arm’s reach of every shopper.

The enhanced targetability will be achieved by shifting the network from a traditional broadcast satellite TV platform to Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), company officials said. The rollout will be phased in over 2007 and completed by early 2008.

In addition, so-called “endcap” displaysstand-alone exhibits at the end of aisles that are considered prime in-store real estate—will, for the first time, contain video displays. Advertisers that buy endcaps will also be encouraged to buy ads on Wal-Mart TV.

The company wouldn’t disclose annual ad sales for the network, but sources placed it close to $100 million. Nationwide, ad volume for in-store TV networks is projected to grow to $1 billion by 2008, by some industry estimates, a small fraction of the roughly $66 billion in projected TV spending for 2006. Forester Research estimates that 90 percent of retail outlets will have in-store media by 2011.
While I think that the Forrester estimate is dubious at best (c'mon, a 90% penetration rate for a particular in-store technology? You've got to be kidding me, unless you're counting traditional POP displays, signage, etc. as "in-store media," which is perfectly fine, though not within the context of this article).

In any case, a few key takeaways include: transitioning from satellite multicast to IP-based unicast (the only efficient way to get single-screen target specificity, but a killer on the bandwidth and hosting bills), changes to the billing model and the addition of endcap displays to give marketers a greater choice of display media, and a change to the display model itself (running shorter spots more frequently to better match the browsing/shopping patterns of shoppers.

Tags: Wal-Mart TV, digital signage, in-store TV, PRN, IPTV

No comments: