Monday, September 10, 2007

Clear Channel Malls Debuts "Oh Zone" Campaign in East Coast Malls

MediaDailyNews reports that Clear Channel Malls, yet another division of the media behemoth, is will roll out a highly interactive multimedia mall experience dubbed the "Oh Zone" in East Coast malls come March 2008.

The "experience", according to the article, combines human interaction with digital signage and even gaming elements: "The 'Oh Zone' campaign centers on portable sets that include digital video displays and interactive touch-screen consoles. Consumers are directed to the installations by greeters who offer an incentive in the form of a game piece. Once there, they are guided through the interactive displays by staff who explain how to enter contests, respond to product questionnaires, and print out "game cards" that can be redeemed when they proceed to the event area."

The idea merges regular retail or out-of-home advertising with event marketing with the goal of engaging customers instead of simply broadcasting messages to them. The digital signs, fixtures, posters and other POP are enhanced with interactive advertising techniques like collectible game pieces (see McDonald's successful Monopoly campaign) and rewards for participating: "On their way out (of the "Oh Zone"), shoppers receive a gift bag with samples and more incentives to visit specific retail outlets in the mall."

As digital signage gains more momentum in the ad world, we'll see more integrated marketing experiments utilize them with other media to create an immersive experience. A comprehensive combination of different advertising forms, from the new to the old, will be the winning equation for advertisers in coming years.

While I think this particular approach will perform best with younger audiences, that doesn't necessarily mean that it will work with older ones who aren't as easily swayed by gimmicky ad techniques. All demos enjoy give-aways so that's usually a keeper across the board. But the game piece part of the equation could need to replaced in order to reach older, less patient and less engaged audiences. Perhaps a more information based approach (free pamphlets/handouts), or any number of other variables, can substitute for the game pieces in order to reach different targets.

The article also mentions that Clear Channel is promising through the ads "as many as 1,400,000 "brand impressions" and potential engagement of more than 50,000 consumers,"
and according to Clear Channel's definition (from their "Common Outdoor Vocabulary And Definitions Page"), an impression is "The total number of impression opportunities an out-of-home unit can produce measured against a target audience in a market. Cumulative impressions can be combined to reflect an entire out-of-home campaign."

Thus by that definition, an advertiser can assume that by participating in the "Oh-Zone" campaign, 1,400,000 members of their target audience will take notice during the designated period in which the campaign lasts. Now whether that would be in a more concentrated week or two or a less restricting couple of months is the big question. Either way, the idea of selling an interactive, multi-faceted campaign on such a vaguely defined idea is kind of shaky. What makes up an impression? Does it mean just looking at the ad and paying attention for a given amount of time or actually interacting with it?

Check out the Oh Zone web site for details.

Tags: out-of-home advertising, digital signage, Clear Channel

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