“Advertising Classifications”

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Devang Raiyani, Co-founder of Blink Media in India asked an interesting question over on LinkedIn…

“Captive Audience – Is it a myth or does the concept work for Retail Media Networks? Most In-Store Media networks promote themselves as Captive Audience Networks. Is there more to it than sleek LCD screens hanging from store ceilings? How far has in-store digital media evolved?”


I had to reply, first of all, to stress the importance of correct classifications. To me, and many others, Retail is not a “Captive Audience” play – far from it in fact!

I believe that in this industry we actually now have three, what I call, ‘advertising classifications” (there is also a separate “real estate” classification that I will discuss in a later blog).

These classifications are as follows: –

  1. High Impact
  2. Retail
  3. Captive Audience

In the DOOHAN directory I explain these in a bit more detail but basically each can be described as: –

High Impact Sites – A terminology that covers ‘General Outdoor’ and other high impact, large screens inside buildings, air and railway terminals etc. and mobile solutions

Retail – Typically high street retail but also includes shopping malls, factory outlets – high street or out of town. It does not include certain in-store locations that are better described as Captive, for example hair salons.

Captive Audience – these run in locations where the audience is stationary and remains in view of a screen such as in transport (taxis, buses, trains etc.) for a period of time. This classification also includes a lot of ‘Leisure’ installations; typically installed in pubs, clubs, bars, casinos etc.

There is some interesting debate going on at the moment with regard the Captive Audience sector. The question being; what exactly is Captive Audience and for example does it actually mean anything more (worth anything more) than any of the other classifications.

Steve Yetsko, Director of Media Research Services at VideoMining Corp believes that the actual idea of ”Captive Audience” is a myth.

He says “If (Captive Audience) were true, increased traffic would have to mean increased viewer ship. I can show that times of peak traffic are often NOT times of peak engagement. many times the exact opposite is true”

An interesting idea and one that I hope Steve’s boss, Dr. Rajeev Sharma, will expand on further during his presentation at Digital Signage Asia.


Blink Media is a digital media startup in India. They’re currently working on some consumer facing technology that involves intelligent delivery of content seconds before a purchase decision – I am looking forward to meeting these folks too when I am in India for Digital Signage Asia.


One Response to ““Advertising Classifications””

  1. alan ohashi Says:

    hi adrian – this is interesting. i’ve, of course seen the billboards and the retail in airports and in taxi cabs. are there companies that ‘buy’ the content. i’m wondering if there are ‘off the shelf’ ways or a ways to adapt existing technologies to make money from content in the retail venues and captive audiences in local markets.

    seems to me this is the main benefit of providing targeted information to local markets, as an alternative to the mass information – maybe general advertising – to mass markets.

    the local newspaper tries to do this on their website, but how can content get onto existing screens without having a huge investment in hardware and firmware?
    alan o.

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