There are rare moments when distracted, multi-tasking, media-gargling young men slow down long enough to think and focus -- like when they're in bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues wondering what to order.
A major brewer recognized that last year, and ran a product launch for a new beer brand on place-based video screens in bars and restaurants across the U.S. The result: a 72 percent incremental sales lift where the spots ran.
The path to purchase and the influence on purchase decisions are emerging as strong, validated selling points for the more than 100,000 networked digital screens being run by digital out-of-home (DOOH) media companies in the hospitality and entertainment sector in this country.
Nielsen's 2010 "Fourth Screen Network Audience Report" took a snapshot last summer of the biggest DOOH networks reaching U.S. adults and found four of the Top 10 were operating in restaurants and bars. Nielsen estimated the gross monthly digital video ad exposures for people over the age of 18 at roughly 210 million among such media companies as TouchTunes, AMI, TargetCast, and IndoorDIRECT.
Millions more roll up through other networks that are represented by ad networks that sell the audiences available through the consolidation of inventories from multiple DOOH networks.
With screens fixed behind bars, at wait areas, and at transaction points, planners and brands are starting to see the opportunity to get in front of elusive target segments during moments when the audience groups are relaxed, receptive to media, and dwelling for long amounts of time. By comparison, many place-based digital environments, such as convenience stores and mass transport, measure dwell times in seconds.
The bar and restaurant sector is an obvious marketing target for beer, wine, spirits, and soft drink categories looking to directly influence purchase behaviors on the spot. In addition, the delivered audience characteristics are also prime targets for the big spend categories of consumer electronics, telecommunications, and automotive.
Research is showing high levels of ad recall (47 percent) and very high levels (60 percent) of willingness to try products from booked advertisers. Field research, funded by DOOH network operators, is also coming back regularly with big upticks in purchase intent.
Data from Arbitron's 2010 place-based video study, as well as other research, shows:
- 50 percent of Americans visited a bar or restaurant-bar as a customer in the past month, and 31 percent in the past week
- 9 percent of all Americans 21+ saw a DOOH screen in a bar in the past month
- People visit these places about four times a month
- Bars index high for young adults, 21-24, male, with college degrees
- Fast casual restaurants deliver high concentrations of teens and young adults, and affluent consumers
Beyond audience characteristics and purchase impacts, brands and media planners also like how the data-driven scheduling that's common with DOOH makes highly targeted campaigns easy to execute. Most networks profile their venues by a variety of characteristics, and scheduling systems allow spots to be directed with a lot of granularity. Creative content produced for the Hispanic market, for example, can be efficiently targeted just to those ZIP codes and venues that sync up by profile.
Data-driven targeting also makes campaign targeting far more efficient and accurate. Ads based on what's actually sold on-premise -- potentially a planning nightmare -- is usually just a matter of checking a box in the planning front-end system.
The hospitality sector is also an early adopter of merging and converging technologies such as mobile and social media. Companies such as LocaModa and ScreenReach are stitching steadily updated, crowd-based social streams into the programming of screens, and encouraging direct engagement through interactive polling and check-ins.
Networks and brands are working with vendors with brands on opt-in, proximity-based programs (such as Bluetooth) that are pushing out coupons and invitations to phones and email accounts.
The mainstream media have also started partnering with DOOH networks to extend content into out-of-home environments to develop audiences. NBC, for example, ran a special episode of its comedy series Community in some 1,000 fast casual restaurants last April and layered in special video segments with Facebook and Twitter tie-ins.
Longer dwell times -- as long as 2.5 hours in some venues -- combined with low CPMs of between $1 and $6 has made the hospitality sector a consistent top five performer in DOOH bookings, and just as strong in RFP activity quarter to quarter.
Jeff Atley is VP, marketing and business development, and founder of ADCENTRICITY.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.