“I think it has merit,” agreed Glenn Seawell, director of the vending channel for Otis Spunkmeyer Inc. “It's a form of point of sale advertising.” Seawell said he was awaiting further information on the recent 10-machine test.
In the meantime, a handful of vending operators have purchased AVTI machines on account of the video screens.
Vending operation finds benefits
M.C. Vending, a 1-route operation based in San Diego, Calif., has operated 14 AVTI machines with video screens for the past nine months and is enthusiastic about the screens' benefits, according to J.J. Carrell, co-owner. Eleven of the 14 machines have used a DVD player to deliver content to the video screen, while three of the machines have used an MP3 player.
At the time of this writing, Carrell was looking forward to utilizing AVTI's virtual private network (VPN) to receive content for the video screens. He has already downloaded 15-second commercials for Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola and Gatorade from those companies' Websites and played them on his machines' screens. “We're basically giving them (the advertisers) free advertising,” he said. He noted that this is a temporary situation; his long-term goal being to earn “passive” income from the video ads.
AVTI recently decided to provide video content to vending machines through its VPN. Vending operators will be able to provide their own content, but it will first be sent to AVTI, then to the LCD screens via the VPN.
“AVTI always controls the content,” explained Shannon Illingworth, founder of AVTI.
Video screens provide a point of difference
M.C. Vending became interested in the video screens as a way to distinguish itself in the marketplace, Carrell said. “It aesthetically changes the whole look of the machine,” he said. “It draws your eye.”
Carrell credited the video screens with helping win an account.
Carrell also developed a video commercial for his own company that he plans to play on the screens.
Carrell believes strongly in the prospect of reaping “passive” income from running paid commercials on the video screens. So much, that he has hired a local advertising professional to develop an advertising package and sell commercials.
M.C. Vending hired On The Mark Concepts, based in San Diego, Calif., a company that creates and places broadcast advertising. Mark Schreiber, president of that company, said he is developing media kits and has already spoken to prospective advertisers.
“It creates a great way for advertisers to get an enticing visual message to a captive audience, and in most cases, on a repetitive basis,” Schreiber said. “There are 15- and 20-second silent commercials available on each machine. The message can be changed monthly or even weekly, offering different imagery to repeat customers.”
A tool for targeted marketing
One of the unique features of using vending machines as advertising vehicles is that the audience can be quantified, a factor that could prove highly beneficial in the development of this medium as an advertising channel.
Audience quantification has emerged as a challenge in the development of LCD screens in other retail venues.
The LED-based advertising system featured in the September issue of Automatic Merchandiser utilizes the audience tracking capabilities in the vending machines to quantify the viewing audience. The article noted that the purchase transaction technology in the vending machines gives the system the means to do this.
There is no reason that an LCD-based system such as AVTI's won't also use vending purchase transaction tools to quantify its viewing audience.
Schreiber has not yet finalized his advertising rate cards. He was not certain at this writing how many machines will be part of his first advertising package. He believes that he can sign up as many as 26 advertisers for 20-second spots.
“The elusive eyeballs advertisers vehemently endeavor to capture are easily measured by the machines' traceable purchase numbers,” Schreiber said.
The 20-second ads will be shown once every five minutes; there will be 15 20-second ads in every 5-minute loop. There is no plan at the present time to quantify the number of people who will view the ads, Schreiber noted.