Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wal-Mart to provide some in-store media measurement data

Sorry for nearly month-long posting hiatus on this blog. I've been pretty good about keeping up with the WireSpring Kiosk/Digital Signage Weblog, but that came at the expense of posting here (and to digital signage news and kiosk news) less frequently during some serious busy times.

Fortunately, I can kick things back off with a bang, since Wal-Mart recently announced that they would be releasing some retail media tracking data as part of a larger project with Nielsen In-Store to measure in-store media consumption and effectiveness in about 1,000 of its US stores, and that's seriously big news for the retail media industry. Apparently, the company's initial results with Nielsen's PRISM in-store tracking system were determined to be 76% accurate (via cross-checks with in-person audits), which was a better than expected result. Tweaks to the system have supposedly raised accuracy to about 85%, which would be pretty impressive for a fully automated system, and were good enough for Wal-Mart to commit to a larger deployment of the system.

Considering how many have bemoaned the lack of accountability and effectiveness of traditional media channels recently (myself included), many are hopeful that the results of such a wide-scale study will indicate that retail media is better at connecting with consumers and communicating brand messages. Of course, if it turns out that's not the case, we'll be in for a rough time as marketers again scramble to find something that works. Not that I think that will be an actual problem. Our internal, customer-provided (and thus potentially tainted) data clearly indicates sales boosts and high satisfaction scores correlated with retail digital media networks.

At the DSE show last week, Nielsen In-Store's George Wishart noted that CPM (or gross impressions, or something similar) is likely to be the de-facto standard for media measurement and pricing for the foreseeable future, as that's what media planners are most comfortable with. Of course, Nielsen's PRISM system, which relies on simple infrared scanners to essentially measure store traffic at different points, is suited for only capturing this particular measurement. On the other hand, while more sophisticated measurement systems that can do things like eye-tracking, gaze-tracking, and idleness tracking could generate more precise measurements, without something to compare against, retailers and marketers would have little ability to actually use the data (not to mention the privacy issues that come with that level of tracking).

As ususal, RetailWire has some good discussion on the subject, so you might want to check that out as well.

Tags: digital signage, in-store media, retail media, Wal-Mart, PRISM

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