People in the advertising industry call it digital signage. Really, it is an in-store television (or plasma screen) that conveys brief, targeted video messages to customers. It´s advertising, yes, but it´s different than an ad that might run on network television. It´s probably shorter and more specific.
It can be instructive. (How to fix a problem on your car.)
It can be suggestive. (Hungry for a hot dog?)
It can be reinforcing. (Don´t you love our brand?)
It can be timely. (Burgers, on special, today)
"Essentially, it is a network that enables the retailer to target custom messages to specific places at specific times," explains Kris Konrath, director of marketing for Convergent Media Systems, an Atlanta company that helps its customers create, install, run and maintain digital signage.
Konrath uses a gas station as an example: "I know that if I´m a gas station up in Detroit, and it´s in the winter and it´s 8 o´clock in the morning, I want to be pushing coffee and hot sandwiches for breakfast. If I´m that gas station in Detroit in the winter in the afternoon, I want to be pushing hot sandwiches and hot chocolate for lunch. If it´s in the summertime, maybe it´s ice-cold Coca-Cola and a sandwich."
The gas station owner can pull off that bit of marketing magic with the help of digital signage.
"It essentially gives a retailer the ability to develop content that can be targeted at specific times, which is called day parting," Konrath says. "These messages can run on a television, they can run on a plasma screen, they can run on a projector."
One of Convergent´s first applications, Konrath recalls, was with a chain of auto parts stores. That chain´s version of digital signage is more of a private broadcast channel that runs several small clips about various topics such as, say, how to change the rotors on an automobile.
The monitors (televisions or plasma screens) are set up at the check-out counter, and there are Hispanic channels and English channels with several different messages available per broadcast.
Digital signage is pricey, Konrath says, but he adds that it is becoming more cost-effective for smaller retailers.
Tomorrow in Retail Strategies, Kris Konrath tells us about messages at the gas pump in Canada and a telecommunications company that realized a 14-percent spike in sales when it began using digital signage.