Monday, January 05, 2009
Putting Ads in Front of Consumers
Video Engages Potential Buyers, Reaches Them at Decisive Moments
By Adam Armbruster, Special to TelevisionWeek
Over the Christmas holiday my family and I spent a few days in New York City. We landed at JFK and while walking through the concourse, we quickly noticed the video billboards advertising cologne as a Christmas gift.
As we waited in the taxi line, I noticed the video monitors atop the cabs running commercials for the same cologne being advertised inside the airport.
Next, as we jumped into our cab, we were greeted by WABC-TV-supplied footage of Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa on the monitor in the rear of the cab, followed by a TV ad for Toyota.
On the way to the hotel we swung by a Wal-Mart to buy candy canes, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but a retail display and 12 more video monitors!
Then it dawned on me: I had been watching TV for the last 60 minutes, but I was nowhere near a traditional TV set.
Please don't misunderstand. I'm a firm believer that the traditional, high-reach, 30-second TV ad has never been more powerful—or more needed.
Think of this type of additional video exposure of your TV message as placing a turbocharger on your TV buy.
Apparently consumers want you to visually engage and entertain them on the go.
The Wal-Mart in-store video merchandising plan was impressive. It engaged me because I noticed the intelligent coordination between the national TV campaign and the in-store video message and signage.
I was sold, so I spoke with Richard Fisher, president of Premier Retail Networks, provider of the video system at Wal-Mart. I asked him about the benefits of this type of television media and advertising planning in a retail chain.
TelevisionWeek: Why is video such a powerful sales tool in the store? Why is video better than, say, a stand-up sign or shelf tag?
Richard Fisher: For the same reason that video is a powerful vehicle in other media—traditional television, film, video games, etc.: It engages viewers experientially by leveraging storytelling skills, motion, color, sound, music and depth. And it provides great economy and flexibility in terms of the way it's distributed, versioned, scheduled, targeted, etc.
Most important, however, is its ability to engage customers emotionally, which can strongly influence their purchasing behavior. And, unlike traditional television, these messages cannot be interrupted by other technologies, such as TiVo or other DVRs.
Video at the point of decision adds a new and powerful tool for the media planner. What retailer or advertiser doesn't want to have the last word just before the shopper opens their wallet?
For example, if we determine that one message for a product is more effective than another, we're able to switch the message across the entire footprint on very short notice with little or no cost. Or we can send different messages for the same product to different stores, even to different individual screens. We can change the price, or do a storewide sale—you get the idea. Print media is nowhere near as dynamic and simply cannot compete.
TVWeek: In collaboration with Bon Appetit, PRN produced short-form content featuring cooking tips from BonAppetit.com, ranging from taco parties and easy ice cream desserts to creative salads. These weekly video segments will run on PRN's multi-paned eye-level screen, together with special previews of the weekly challenge on the Food Network. Last summer's collaboration between Bon Appetit and PRN resulted in increased sales for Bon Appetit's featured issue at checkout. What other sales successes can you share?
Mr. Fisher: We've consistently shown a wide range of both long- and short-term sales lift with dozens of different products in a variety of categories. Some products work better than others—products that allow you to tell a story, engage viewers in innovative ways and create a relationship with shoppers. This contributes greatly to positive purchase behavior. It also depends heavily upon creative execution, of course, and this is something we've come to know a lot about over the years. It is a much different approach, both strategically and tactically, than traditional television spots. We expect to see this area mature over time as more agencies get involved in learning the craft of communicating within the in-store environment.
TVWeek: Does the in-store video make a brand's TV ads more effective?
Mr. Fisher: This question is hard for PRN to measure and should probably be directed at the suppliers. But conceptually, we all know the power of building a brand—only now we're able to reinforce the message at the point of purchase. Or perhaps we use it to deliver a unique in-store message to close the sale. Once again, a good media plan is multidimensional—only now, the power of an in-store video-based communications vehicle is part of the planning, as it is integrated into the campaign as a whole.
TVWeek: Is there any pushback from consumers about the monitors? Are you concerned about that?
Mr. Fisher: PRN was a pioneer in this industry and has been evolving in-store video communications for over 12 years. Of course, at times during the evolution, some of the execution has been less than optimal; like everything else, there's been a learning curve and we've learned a lot. The industry as a whole needs to improve its execution, and it will.
Our creative is designed specifically for shoppers in a retail environment. It blends live-action, colorful graphics and music. It uses audio in unique ways to grab shoppers' attention without annoying them. It uses varying lengths. The point is that putting up a 30-second spot doesn't work in this environment. It's been tried and tried again and it's not the right answer. With our new IPTV [Internet Protocol Television] platform, we can target across our immense geographic footprint all the way down to one individual screen in one individual store. That's amazing. If it's cold outside, up comes the ad for soup. If it's raining, a discount for umbrellas. And on and on. We are at the beginning of the next generation that will fit the shopper the way the Internet has adapted to fit the user.
TVWeek: What do you feel that this video linking of all types of television, including network ads, local ads and in-store ads, will lead to in the future?
Mr. Fisher: Smarter marketing, but with a focus on always helping the shopper. That is what matters. If we help the shopper make better decisions, everybody wins.
Adam Armbruster is a senior partner with Red Bank, N.J.-based retail and broadcasting consulting firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Co. He can be reached at email@example.com