There is a concept within the manufacturing community referred to as “Just In Time.” The main thesis of a Just In Time manufacturing plant is that products are produced as close to when an order is placed as possible with a minimum of inefficiencies that are commonly incurred by more traditional means of manufacturing (large inventory of finished goods on hand maintained in the hopes that they will sell, warehousing of components/parts held in anticipation of future orders, juggling of pricing to try to sell slower moving products that were mis-forecast, etc.). By only producing products that have been ordered or are close to be assured of being ordered, the company can be more certain that they meet the needs of customers (assuming they can produce the product within a reasonable time from the order) without the disadvantage of having to guess at future customer needs.
Similarly, there is an awakening occurring in Marketing and Advertising about the benefits of putting advertising messages in front of potential customers along the “path to purchase” (rather than providing messaging that is received through the conventional means of delivering the messages to the home via flyers, mail, television ads, etc. when the prospective shopper may not actually be engaged in thinking or acting on making a purchase; messaging occurs while the prospective shopper is out of the home participating in activities). Messaging can now be viewed and received while; dining, commuting, approaching stores, etc.). One of the leaders at the forefront of this initiative is Jeff Gunderman, President of EYE Corp Media.
Breaking Through the Clutter
EYE Corp Media’s partner StopTips has placed media screens at train stations in Connecticut that serve to both inform and provide useful advertising. As Mr. Gunderman explains, “The network started as a resource for providing timely information for commuters, we have up-to-the-minute train times that commuters use to gauge when they have to be on the platform. The valuable content makes the EYE Commute screens something that commuters seek out. We then added the ad platform on the back end. Other networks think first about advertising, and are at a real disadvantage to then design a content model that is compelling.” Mr. Gunderman summarized the differences between ineffective efforts and EYE Commute with their focus of, “Content is king.”
Putting Words Into Action
With a close watch on performance and metrics, the EYE Commute monitors are found in coffee shops and station houses along the Metro North New Haven line to and from New York City. Simple metrics like additional orders of coffee at the coffee shops or number of suggestive orders that occur at the cafes found near or attached to the stations provide confidence that the advertising “along the path to purchase” are effective and that the ads are “just in time”” (occurring at the moment when the consumer is about to consider their food or beverage order). An ad that was viewed while the commuter was at home would be less effective as they are not currently at the station and considering their purchase at that time.
However, the EYE Corp Media also has placements in malls and bars and are tracking the demographic makeup of those that are exposed to the ads. This allows ads to be tailored to the viewer and/or advertiser. As Mr. Gunderman explains, “The beauty of these digital place based media networks is that we can customize the ad experience for the advertiser offering national, regional or even hyper local ad campaigns. We can customize based on the audience and we can daypart to further customize the message.”
Ads can also be targeted based on where the ad appears and what behaviors or activities the prospective shopper may be engaging in at the time of the presentation of the ad. For example, EYE Media Corp has noticed that ads for retail products (including jewelry/watch, consumer electronics, and fashion/beauty) do well in the mall network, but so do ads for healthcare, education, and entertainment. As might be expected, media in bars tend to skew toward advertising alcohol brands – but Mr. Gunderman also points out, “Many categories are good targets, including entertainment, quick service restaurants to grab a bite after the bar, the lottery, and services like Uber and Lyft.”
Additionally, unlike when a commuter is awaiting a train with many other commuters and advertising is almost by necessity a “one-to-many” approach to messaging, the Eye Play Bar network includes fully interactive touch screens capable of connecting to the internet and allowing for users to share information, play games, and create a unique experience that even includes ordering products online. Due to the dwell time people in a bar setting typically have, this level of engagement is possible and the environment is far more conducive to allowing that kind of interactive experience.
Of course, one of the concerns an advertiser would have is that their message is being received and that lost opportunities are kept to a minimum. EYE Corp Media ensures that there is very little downtime with their messaging by placing the units indoors at train stations, malls, and bars and choosing locations to mount based on minimizing those occurrences. Other locations that may be subject to weather or vandalism do include sturdy housings and secure mountings to reduce downtime associated with those instances.
While this is currently a very new approach to messaging and advertising, Mr. Gunderman is also keeping his focus on what the future holds for marketing and advertising, “The big push right now is mobile integration. Through various technologies we are seeing much more connectivity to mobile phones. As agencies focus more on mobile, out of home media operators will need to evolve to enable better connectivity between screen advertising and the mobile device. In fact, it’s a great solution for environments where the medium is one-to-many, but connectivity to the mobile device can add a one-to-one personalized experience.” So while advertising is now migrating to “just in time,” it certainly appears like EYE Corp Media is ahead of it’s’ time.