Monday, April 14, 2008

Sorenson finds coupons, signs beat in-store TV and audio

By now we've heard lots about the in-store measurement efforts from Nielsen (PRISM) and POPAI (MARI), and we've even seen a bit of data from both, but as AdAge tells us, TNS Sorenson has stepped up their efforts, and is providing some very interesting data on what works -- and what doesn't -- when marketing at retail.

Some of Sorenson's research echoes results from the PRISM pilot data released earlier this year. For example:
[s]ome of the more-established mainstays of category promotion, such as in-store sampling and instant-coupon machines (from News Corp.'s SmartSource) resonated well with consumers in surveys. But some applications more like traditional media advertising, including in-store TV and floor ads, fared worse.
I'm looking around for the data or an executive summary of the report to figure out just what exactly "fared worse" means, but no luck so far. Still, this shouldn't come as news since we've seen a number of reports in the recent past indicating that traditional in-store promotions continue to perform well (and have a gigantic footprint, economies of scale, and the benefit of expert practitioners). Additionally, Sorenson found the most influential media to be (in order) in-store samples, package ads, coupon dispensers, in-store fliers and end-aisle displays. The least influential were ceiling ads, in-store audio and floor ads. The stuff that we're typically intrested in -- in-store digital signs (#13), other video displays (#14) and checkout-lane ads (#15) were all towards the bottom in terms of relative effectiveness.

Sorenson indicated that, "relevance is key to any media working in-store... so the more closely aligned the ad is with the category and product, the better." Additionally, many newer in-store media (particularly digital signs) fared poorly, he feels, because of logistical challenges that often leave the screens hanging from the ceiling instead of placed in a better locale, such as the spot approximately 40" above the floor known to be where shoppers are known to focus their attention.

Clearly, execution of the promotion program is just as important as the medium the program will be running in (especially true since so many programs are mixed-media nowadays), so I'd have to recommend readers take these results with a grain of salt: marketers and retailers have a very solid understanding of how to make items sell on endcaps and in aisles. On screens near the store entrance or dangling from the ceiling, there are a lot more unknowns, and as Sorenson has stated, that means that we're starting from a disadvantage.

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