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More Signs of Digital Signage Adolescence

Aug 17, 2007
Last week, another sign that dynamic digital signage is entering media adolescence emerged with the announcement that global information and media company VNU and the In-Store Marketing Institute will jointly launch a new service to help marketers better understand how to reach and influence consumers while they shop.

A key component of the effort is the measurement of the audience for a new array of in-store marketing vehicles, including digital signage, television and radio, shelf talkers and other point-of-purchase displays.

Offered by a new VNU business unit called Nielsen In-Store (part of NielsenConnect), the service aims to give marketers and retailers alike a way to quantify in-store audiences and measure the impact of their in-store marketing efforts. The service also will deliver a means for marketers to assess the value of their in-store marketing strategies when compared to other media and marketing approaches, said VNU chairman and CEO David Calhoun.

VNU's partnership with the In-Store Marketing Institute will allow the newly created business unit to leverage work the institute is spearheading known as P.R.I.S.M., or Pioneering Research for an In-Store Metric. An important aim of the P.R.I.S.M. research is developing statistical tools to deliver audience metrics "to the category or area of the store, by retail format, and by day of the week," according to the In-Store Marketing Institute.

Just as the recent announcement from the Screen Association of the first-ever U.K. digital signage directory reflects a maturing of dynamic signage from a technology into a legitimate media made up of identifiable networks, the announcement of Nielsen In-Store and the P.R.I.S.M. research demonstrate another aspect of its coming of age as a media, namely definable audience metrics.

With audience metrics, in-store marketers can develop a sense of confidence about the reach of in-store media in general and digital signage in particular. Out of that confidence will emerge media buys that fit the traditional mold of media decision making. In other words, marketers can justify the purchase of in-store media in the same way they justify buying radio,
television and print: based on audience size and demographics, not simply advertising rates and a wish. An article on the In-Store Marketing Institute Web site put it this way:

"Adoption of the P.R.I.S.M. model by the industry would deliver a common language for retailers, manufacturers and media buyers to assess the value of retail as a marketing channel and compare its effectiveness to other media such as TV, radio and print. It also would give marketers a metric through which to evaluate the store as a vehicle for generating brand awareness and trial, putting the store on a level playing field with other forms of mass media."

In announcing the launch of Nielsen In-Store, global managing director George Wishart said the business unit will offer those in the ad, media and retail communities "a new currency standard that can increase the efficiency of the media buying and selling process."

That currency -quantifiable audience metrics- is precisely what's needed for retail digital signage to advance to the next level and take its place among mainstream ad-supported media. If Nielsen In-Store can deliver on its promise, digital signage as a medium will catapult from the media backwater reserved for funding from discretionary ad and marketing budgets into a position as a legitimate contender for top-tier advertising dollars. Immediately, it will shed the stigma that shrouds any media that come to the table without audited circulation statements or independently measured audience ratings. With
quantifiable metrics, digital signage networks can stake their claim to being a bona fide media choice and one that marketers can safely choose to carry their out-of-store advertising message past the store doors into specific departments and ultimately to the cash register.
About the Author
David Little is a digital signage authority with 20 years of experience helping professionals use technology to expand their marketing messages with alternative media. Visit http://www.keywesttechnology.com and find how you can expand your marketing horizons. For further insight, download my free white paper Why Digital Signage Works.
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