USA TouchPoints And Adspace Studying Mall Customers

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

You would think that with an average of 14 digital units in each of 140 top malls across the U.S., that seven-year-old Adspace Networks Inc. knows the mall world and its customers pretty well, so when we heard yesterday that Adspace had partnered with USA TouchPoints for an in-depth study on the mall shopper and the importance of the ‘in-mall experience’ in consumers’ lives, we chatted with Bill Ketcham, Adspace executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, to learn more about why such a study was wanted.

USA TouchPoints was developed by the Media Behavior Institute and is relied upon by major media agencies, media owners and others as a channel planning and consumer insights tool.

“The Adspace Digital Mall Network is a powerful mass medium and we engaged with USA Touchpoints to further examine the ‘life context’ of the mall shopping experience,” says Ketcham, “Our main objective of the study is to capture and bring to life consumers’ mindset and receptivity to media exposure.

“We’ve worked with Jim Spaeth, CEO of Media Behavior Institute, on channel planning over the years, and when we heard that this study would be able to tell us more about the mindset of mall customers, we were really interested. The data that we get from this will be another tool for us to use in talking to advertisers and to help them engage customers. Advertisers and their agencies always want more and more data.”

The analysis of the mall shopper will examine the emotions and activities of consumers, looking at, eg, where they are, why they are in the mall, who they are with, what media they see, how they feel when they are there, and more. It will look at the role that in-mall media can play in the media plan, especially along the path to purchase to deliver contextually relevant messages at key moments of receptivity.

“In the past, we’ve done focus groups, but they were small studies,” says Ketcham. “The USA Touchpoints study will involve about 2,000 people who carry an iPhone for 10 days, during which they will report every 30 minutes.”

Upon completion of the study, Adspace will have a better composite of its audiences based on emotions, moods and activities during in-mall occasions.

“We’ll build it into our selling proposition,” says Ketcham. “Advertisers are receptive to our digital awareness information from Nielsen, but it will be even better if we can explains the ‘whys’.”

“USA TouchPoints is unique in being able to deliver an understanding of the emotions and moods of consumers in the context of where they are, what they’re doing, who they’re with and which media they are using or are exposed to,” says Spaeth. “As a result this analysis will go deeper than ever before in revealing mall-shopper mindsets and help advertisers better understand how to frame their messaging to achieve higher levels of engagement.”

This analysis will be based on the USA TouchPoints 2012 data. The data for this analysis is drawn from a nationally representative sample of adults 18-64 and findings are nationally projectible.

“This isn’t the Holy Grail,” says Ketcham. “But the more we know, the better.”

Adspace Networks consists of 1,878, eight and nine-foot-tall plasma screens called ‘Smart Screens’ that show a four-minute loop of programming which combines a mix of the top 10 sale items in the mall, the hottest seasonal items available, mall events, and local and national advertising. The content also includes interviews with the cover celebrities of Lucky magazine, as well as information of fashion trends and essentials.

Despite all malls having different information, everything is handled from Adspace’s New York headquarters. The network reaches 34 million unique individuals each month (source: Scarborough), and is particularly effective at reaching teens, young adults, and women.
Media Behavior Institute is an independent research company with minority equity positions held by Nielsen and GfK MRI. The company focuses on highly consumer-centric “day-in-the-life” research to enable better-informed media and marketing decision-making, product and service development strategies and more. USA TouchPoints is the company’s syndicated consumer insights and cross-platform media measurement service

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