There’s nothing worth watching these days

Thomson’s decision to install digital advertising screens in 100 of its stores (MW last week) is an intelligent investment and a step in the right direction towards producing quality retail television in what has to date been a poorly executed medium.

In-store TV is not new but most retailers continue to miss a significant opportunity to reach a captive, ready-to-spend consumer audience. Repurposed TV advertising, irrelevant weather and news feeds that are too hard to read on badly located screens are some frequent errors.

These blunders are compounded further by the deployment of inappropriate, unreliable technology. A swift glance around any high street or shopping centre will reveal a growing number of plasma screens. But look again – are more than 50 per cent working at any one time? And of those that are working, are any showing anything of interest or providing content that is likely to spark consumer desire?

Usually, they are not. And despite the growing desperation of retailers to win customer interest, these frankly useless marketing tools are doing nothing but taking up valuable space.

Organisations would be well advised to use existing broadband connections to deliver real-time content via the internet. With central control, each screen can have a schedule of location-relevant content delivered to maximise the audience at different times of day.

This centralised approach ensures there is no need for a local staff member to turn systems on or off, or set the PC up each morning – a problem that causes a huge failure rate across the country – and provides clear visibility of any screen failure, which can be immediately investigated.

But retail TV will only work if organisations are prepared to invest in creating innovative content that is tailored and relevant to this new audience. And why not? Retailers have happily spent thousands on scatter-gun advertisements on standard TV channels, despite the fact that audiences regularly use technology to skip ads and are in a less than receptive mood to supermarkets’ blandishments. In contrast, when they are in a store or a shopping centre, they are ready and willing to spend money and actively seeking information on potential purchases.

Reallocating spend to this medium should be an obvious move. It provides an unprecedented opportunity to target consumers with relevant, timely information and offers and, using devices such as SMS, unprecedented measurement of customer recognition and response.

The technology is in place to deliver real “retail” TV and to provide consumers with an enjoyable, relevant experience that delivers real value and will improve ©

turnover as a result. Given the escalating requirement for consumer-focused organisations – from retailers to banks and museums – to improve per-customer sales, wasting the opportunity offered by plasma screens and internet-based content delivery to reach a captive consumer audience verges on the criminal. It is time organisations woke up to the realities of in-store TV and delivered the tailored content required to attract a knowledgeable consumer audience.

Ed Silvester

Technical director

TriMedia Broadcast

London EC2

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