Premier Retail Networks Shows TV at Wal Mart, Elsewhere

Premier Retail Networks is taking television in a whole new direction: Closer to the point of purchase. Much closer.

The San Francisco-based company is probably the world’s largest in-store media company, operating like a television network with satellite-based programming to Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Sears, Circuit City and Best Buy. It’s recently been boosted by increased sales and viewership figures done by Nielsen Media Research.

“Our goal is to inform, engage and entertain shoppers with a customized TV program tailored to the needs of each retailer,” said Mark Mitchell, EVP of advertising sales at Premier’s sales office in New York.

The channels are seen in thousands of Wal-Marts across the country, both in screens near high-traffic areas and on TVs on display in the electronics department. The channels for Sears, Best Buy and Circuit City are seen on display TVs.

Programming is short-form, including 30-second spots plus content from media companies like ABC, ESPN, Discovery Health, Oxygen and Parenting magazine. For advertisers, Mitchell said that can be a powerful draw. Imagine, he said, 160 TV screens throughout a Circuit City promoting the latest movie.



“All those screens promoting Spiderman is pretty impactful,” Mitchell said.

Some advertisers, like Sony, view advertising on the in-store channels as a last opportunity to message a shopper before a purchasing decision.

“You don’t have to count on the store associates to bring out your sales message. You can get that last opportunity by advertising on PRN,” he said.

Results released last week from Nielsen’s September 2002 study show a 104% increase in Wal-Mart Television viewership per store, compared to a study in May 2001. The network delivers 55.604 gross impressions per store for a four-week period, the length of a PRN advertising cycle. An April 2002 study found the average unaided/aided brand recall for five test brands broadcast on the network was 66.4%, compared to an industry average of 24% for in-home television ads. The network will be in almost 2,400 Wal-Mart stores by the end of the year, with more than 100 million potential viewers every week.

“That’s a huge audience,” he said.

In Wal-Mart’s case, the one-hour programs that repeat throughout the shopping day are created to reinforce the cornerstones of Wal-Mart advertising: Community , large selection of items and “everyday low prices,” as the saying goes. PRN works directly with Wal-Mart marketers to create seasonal programming and other promotions that maximize the store and the brands. Mitchell said that’s one of the most important things about in-store advertising over in-home advertising: In-home advertising is done miles away from where a shopper makes a decision and can be swayed.

“We give the marketers a chance to market a customer just aisles away [from the product]. This can really negate what competitive advertising awareness has been built,” he said.

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