MONTREAL — Location-based advertising is one of the most powerful ways to reach consumers at the point of purchase. By running relevant and well-timed campaigns in-store, brands and advertisers can target shoppers who are aisles away, not miles away.
While in-store advertising has traditionally taken such forms as merchandising displays and coupons, Stingray Advertising — whose audio network currently includes 10,000 CVS and Rite Aid drug stores, as well as 2,700 grocery stores with pharmacies — recently developed and applied a new way for brands to communicate with shoppers by using targeted, retail-based digital audio messages.
The new message delivery format comes at a time when agencies and advertisers are craving the ability to reach a captive audience, at the point of purchase, with targeted and optimized media solutions. In response to this demand, more and more retailers in the grocery and drug channels are building out service offerings modeled after media companies.
Audio advertising messages educate, influence and inspire every shopper — not just those who happen to see an in-store display or at-shelf static signage.
“Only about one-third of shoppers visit any given aisle in a store,” says Nancy Perkins, senior vice president of retail partnerships at Stingray. “Since audio blankets the entire store and is heard by every shopper, this media opportunity is uniquely effective at promoting key initiatives, sending shoppers directly to certain aisles, and encouraging product discovery.”
In drug stores, another key feature of digital audio is that a message can encourage a shopper to seek direct advice from an on-site pharmacist, she adds.
The newly optimized channel, known as Audio Out-of-Home, or AOOH, comes at a time when many stores are pushing for a clean-shelf look that no longer features promotional materials. This means that it is getting more difficult for brands to activate point-of-purchase campaigns.
Stingray executives say that AOOH provides an outlet for advertisers to use their media dollars, not their shopper marketing dollars, on location-based marketing initiatives. By offering an in-store communication channel to everyone from hair care brands to pharmaceutical companies, drug stores can seamlessly meet the growing demand for location-based ads while earning incremental revenue.
Drug stores are more than just a place to get your prescription filled: They have become destinations for shoppers to buy grocery staples, self-care products, sweet snacks, cleaning products, and much more. So, no matter the time of day, day of the week, specific location or season, there’s always a portion of their in-store offering that’s ripe for promotion. Drug stores operate as wellness destinations, so audio messages promoting specific services like vaccines, help enhance this message to the shopper.
Aside from isolating specific drug store locations at a neighborhood level, state level or national level, Stingray’s retail network can be customized to an even more granular degree.
“Brands can run targeted audio campaigns for different holidays, events, times of day, you name it,” says Ryan Fuss, the company’s senior vice president of global media solutions. “An allergy brand might deliver a message when specific locations experience a certain pollen level; a sunscreen company could launch an ad that only runs on sunny days; or a pharmaceutical company might advertise to a targeted demographic based on store traffic data. The options are endless.”
Thanks to sophisticated ad server technology, advertisers can deliver highly optimized digital audio straight to drug stores’ speakers: Each retail location within the network has its own unique code, which allows for highly specific targeting.
“Retailers like working with us because we handle the creative production and scheduling of their retail spots as a turnkey media solution,” says Perkins. “They also value that we help them monetize their in-store audio asset. “We utilize both traditional agency- and brand-driven media buying as well as a programmatic model that provides an array of targeting tools to customize, optimize and measure performance to drive revenue.”
Once a campaign is loaded up and ready to go, the ad server will dynamically insert digital audio ads into retail stores’ communication and music systems. That messaging is designed to be appealing to shoppers and store employees to maintain an overall positive brand experience while delivering compelling messages that impact shopper behavior.
“Brands like this format because it educates shoppers about new products, product benefits, usage ideas and promotions,” says Perkins. “It also delivers significant results that have proven impacts on sales and brand awareness.”
While digital AOOH has been a proven tactic for a long time, these innovations and integrations with targeted and optimized media are a powerful tool for advertisers seeking quantified media exposure at the point of purchase. Perkins says that this is just the beginning for retailers and brands that want to leverage the latest in in-store audio messaging.