As retailers and manufacturers embrace their stores as legitimate communications channels, in-store digital media (ISDM) is becoming increasingly popular.
ISDM is any type of customer communication powered by an electrical current, which proactively controls and changes advertising messages. Digital signage, the most-used ISDM tool today, enables a brand to target specific content to any store. It activates direct marketing in the store while eliminating the cost and operational complexity of printing numerous versions of printed signs. Forrester Research estimates that 90% of North American retailers will have in-store digital media by 2011. As major brands such as Best Buy, Kroger, Target, Wal-Mart, and others roll out these networks, it appears that ISDM will soon be a part of every retailer's communications toolbox.
Digital signage has many benefits. When customers see messages while they are browsing in the store, it prompts them to locate and purchase nearby products. These messages can be crafted specifically to stimulate purchases and guarantee compliance. Store operations uses include employee training, store communications, disaster and recovery messaging, in-store live events, loss prevention, and IT support — all of which carry a business case that can offset the capital expense of the installation.
The remote data service (RDS) infrastructures being deployed today will help enable 'future stores.' This will enable retailers to integrate their message-delivery platforms with legacy systems, loyalty marketing databases, inventory, and more, so that there is clear visibility into marketing results and business ROI. This is a model already tied to e-commerce stores, which consumers have come to love and expect.
Create In-Store Accountability Based On Consumer Value
Digital signage and ISDM advertising value is measured by the cost per thousand (CPM) media metric used by most other traditional media. Based on the 'reach' (number of people available to see) and 'frequency' (how often they might see the message), it seriously undervalues the media. A more suitable metric is being sought for its valuation, and we have the opportunity to truly make a difference for the consumer. Effective relevant marketing (ERM) determines the efficacy of digital advertising based on: (1) the quality of the engagement with the consumer, (2) the quality of relevant timing and location, and (3) the quality of the message to make an impact on the viewer. The ERM approach embraces all three elements that combine for creative effectiveness, and it assesses and measures them in an unbiased manner.
Embrace An Innovator's Mindset
Digital signage has the potential to be one of the most exciting retail changes of the past 50 years. However, it must be used strategically and measured for effectiveness to become a desirable advertising spend. Wayne Gretzky said it best when he said, "Skate where the puck is going, not where it is." Regarding marketing within the retail store, the puck is headed straight into an exciting new era of technology-based experience design. Getting on board is no longer an intriguing notion; it is a necessity for future success.
The clear message is that innovation has become a business and cultural imperative. No longer can we create strategies, technology tools, marketing plans against specific systems, processes, and ideas and expect to be successful year after year. We must put forth the effort to understand current and emerging trends and consistently evolve our own status quo — and prove to our stockholders that their investments will reap rewards.