Best Buy has gained attention for its alacrity in adopting new media tools like Twitter for providing customer service (its Twelpforce) and mobile shopping tool shopkick for offering in-store rewards. Less heralded has been the electronics retail chain's in-house media network across in-store screens, the Web and eventually mobile devices.
The company promises third-party advertisers that they can get their messages in front of potentially 1 billion customers per year through its media network. That encompasses everything from the 80 to 120 HDTV screens in each of its 1074 outlets (drawing from 15 million to 34 million viewers monthly) to the video-centric BestBuyOn.com content site to its Reward Zone loyalty program.
Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis at NPD Group, who was among a group of analysts and advertisers to attend a Dec. 2 event in New York formally presenting the Best Buy Media Network, described it as "seeking to fill a gap between general interest publications and tech blogs that serve up a steady stream of snark to technology enthusiasts," in a Monday blog post.
Best Buy spokesperson Lisa Hawks explained that rather than directly hawking deals, the focus is on entertainment and education about technology products. To that end, the BestBuyOn home page features a video titled "How Not to Ruin Christmas" with gift-giving tips, a slide show of its picks of the top 10 Christmas movies, as well as instructional videos on 3D TV, tablets and laptops.
The videos are also featured in a standard rectangle unit above the fold on the main BestBuy.com site. Clicking on the box launches a media player within the page to watch the video. Best Buy offers banner formats on BestBuyOn.com as well as pre-roll ads with video. Brands running ads so far include Tide and Swiffer as well as endemic ones like Sony, Sharp and Microsoft.
Rubin noted that Best Buy is trying to encourage advertisers to focus on initiatives that are more centered on branding and education than direct marketing. This approach positions the media network more directly against TV and outdoor, and makes it suited to handle "campaigns from brands that are not 'endemic,' that is, sold by Best Buy, but which want to reach its 'experiential' customers. These would include ads for apparel, foods, tourism, and cars," he wrote.
In terms of its audience, Best Buy also over-indexes in families with young children and people interested in travel -- demographic characteristics advertisers might use to pitch a range of goods and services beyond technology products.
While Best Buy boasts a huge audience across the media network, traffic to the BestBuyOn site itself looks anemic so far. It had 74,000 unique visitors in November, according to comScore.
To date, the retailer hasn't aggressively promoted the site. But Hawks said Best Buy has budgeted funds for marketing its media network in various trade media in 2011. She also said development of mobile channels for the Best Buy Media Network is in the works, via both the mobile Web and apps.