Monday, July 21, 2008

Wal-Mart redesigns their network. Is it sans-PRN?

Ages ago, when PRN announced that they were going public, we surmised that it was on the strength of their deal with Wal-Mart, whose in-store TV network they had been running from its inception. Later, when Thomson acquired them for about $285 million, we guessed it was because their access to Wal-Mart gave them an inside track on a deal to re-build the network later. Well, if this article by Bill Collins (who was apparently wrangled into writing for DailyDOOH - no doubt Adrian has incriminating pictures of him or something) is anything to go on, PRN may not be as involved as they were before, as Wal-Mart seems to be building out the second (third?) generation of the Wal-Mart TV network on their own. Collins posits that a second generation network would have to:
  1. Bring screens down to eye level
  2. Build screens into endcaps, fixtures and shelving
  3. Abandon the 2001-2002 “hang and bang” model where flat screens are hung nilly-willy around the store, mostly in locations that are difficult for shoppers to see
  4. Control audio so that the soundtrack of these networks is welcomed by shoppers and store employees alike
  5. Pack merchandise around the screens and speakers, so that the sound-and-motion media serves a useful purpose for both marketing and merchandising just as conventional Point-of-Purchase displays do
In other words, follow lots of the best-practices that we've all been talking about for years :)

And it looks like metrics company DS-IQ managed to work their way into the deal, as, "in his February 2008 presentation, Wal-Mart’s Mike Hiatt gave repeated plugs to DS-IQ, explaining how DS-IQ’s IT system proved conclusively to Wal-Mart executives that when quality content is screened on the network, sales of the products that are advertised on the network increase in real time."

While I'm glad to see Wal-Mart investing in retail media even during these tough economic times (especially given that so much of their revenue base is in the US), I do hope that PRN will continue to provide some management oversight, if for no other reason that they've been at it long enough to really understand what works (and what doesn't) in-store.

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