When Tesco TV launched with much excitement and coverage five years ago, many people, including Tesco, believed that screens above the aisles in the busiest supermarkets in the UK would be a must-have for advertisers keen to promote their brands, and therefore were bound to attract large advertising budgets.
After all, the numbers are very impressive. £1 in every £7 spent in the UK goes through Tesco’s tills, whilst one third of the UK population shops at the country’s leading retailer.
Surely the size of audience and the fact they were positioned at the point of purchase would have advertisers queuing to buy space? But the dream didn’t become reality, and with the news that Tesco is to close the network, where did it all go wrong?
“It didn’t matter about the location; the concept of screens above head height, running TV-style content, with sound, to people on the move in focused ‘shopping mode’ in the busy, distracting, crowded supermarket environment is flawed”
People do not naturally look upwards when they’re moving around when in-store. Achieving in-store stand-out is very difficult and a supermarket is visually highly cluttered; consider all the money spent on eye-catching pack design and eye-level shelf placement. In addition, the sound was impossible to hear above the general levels of noise in the supermarket environment.
However much Tesco may have been able to leverage big brands to spend, ultimately the effect on sales was going to be measured. If the brands that trialled the network had got the sales uplifts they wanted, they would have invested in numbers.
Unsurprisingly, this was not the case. A purchase decision that generates a sale is not only more complex, but needs the required visibility and attention to have an effect.
The costs of the network infrastructure and the need for bespoke programming made the service uneconomic for Tesco. Perhaps this is just one of the early pioneers who will fold as new “plug and play” operators enter the market with lower cost, higher impact advertising solutions more akin to dynamic posters.
Digital media is rapidly developing along with the industry’s understanding of what works for consumers on the move. Where the industry was five years ago is very different to where it is today, and the new models are all the better for learnings gained through older concepts. With digital Out of Home media, certain formats provide creative, eye-catching and relevant contexts; others do not.
Our view was always to doubt the effect of this particular format. Our own digital research suggests that twice as many people look at a digital poster for an average of 60% longer than the static poster. At times, this figure rises to three times as many people looking for twice as long.
However, choosing the right digital format in the right context – particularly where people are moving – and creatively treating it as a poster rather than a TV channel, remains paramount to the success of driving advertiser ROI. In other situations, where people are stationery and willing to be engaged, a format more akin to TV, such as on station concourses and in taxis, has greater relevance and where the OOH TV model can work successfully. In today’s economic climate, this distinction has never been more pertinent.
Note: Ivan Clark is Director of Digital and Creative Solutions at Kinetic.