You Used To Go Shopping To Avoid The Ads

“Retail TV – Coming to every store near you!”

As the free to air television-led mass-marketing world of advertising comes crumbling down to a level playing field of customer behaviour influencing options, the latest flavour of the month is becoming Retail TV – that is, television screens in-store with various content models broadcast or narrowcast through them. This intrusive medium is being heavily backed by media proprietors and pitched to retailers and shopping centre owners as an incremental revenue source.

It isn’t new. It has been tried in various parts of the world now for over ten years but has begun to become more widespread as the cost of the technology has decreased rapidly – notably in the last five years. There are various models. Content interspersed with advertising. Cross-sell and promotional sell advertising. Serving suggestions to prompt trial. Sponsored information. A television channel with ads. A moving poster site.

In the past decade there have been some major learning in this space. First and foremost, the effect on customers in the retail environments is the first concern. Eddie Bauer stores did a trial of football games and stock prices in stores and found the only thing it did was interfere with traffic flows as customers stood to watch the content rather than shop.

The second is the effect on the environment itself. Does this become more visual and noise pollution leading to increasing levels of ambient stress on store staff and customers?

The third is the effectiveness of the media content itself. Studies have shown that at the average walking pace in a store a poster site or tv screen has less than 2 seconds to capture the viewer. We see it before we hear it. How much specifically created media have you seen which is graphically led and impactful enough to work in the context in which it finds itself in retail tv?

There is no doubt that used correctly, retail tv is a potentially powerful visual merchandising device in retail environments. However, far from being seen as an incremental revenue source, retail tv must be incorporated into integrated environmental outcomes – that is, it must be a contributor to productive customer behavior – not seen as a strange space ship which has landed from outer space and has no connection to the local environment or the people who will lead to it’s success or demise in it’s newly found home.