Targeting students from a different angle

When you think about targeting students with a digital network on or near a campus, you probably think a lot more about common areas, busy walkways and party spots than you do about the campus bookstore.

So I did a little head shake when I read about an ad-driven network rolling out across the US that puts the emphasis on those shops.

“Combining wireless technology and ceiling audio with LCD or acrylic screens that span up to four stories,” the In-Store Marketing Institute reports, “the Bookstore Network has been installed in 200 bookstores owned by Follet Corp. at public and private universities nationwide.

EZ Show launched its partnership with Follet in June 2006. It began piloting the technology at another bookstore group in early 2007. The company hopes to eventually expand to 1,000 total stores, including 700 Follet-owned locations.

Mixing national branding with university-level promotion, the network displays ads alongside a scrolling news feed and entertainment programming. Stores carry up to four screens, which loop a reel of five to 10 minutes. The network includes both LCD monitors and acrylic screens that use DLP technology.

According to EZ Show president Bill Everett, the network’s primary purpose is to promote products on the shelves, a selection that ranges from school supplies to razor blades to insurance. “College bookstores are not the ‘little red schoolhouse’ anymore,” Everett says. “Stores carry more than 1,000 SKUs and the channel earns about $2 billion a year. The network supports product optimization. Instead of waiting for signage to arrive, you can change ads anytime.”

Advertisers have included Apple inc., Coca-Cola, Verizon and Virgin Wireless, as well as host universities, although Everett admits that attracting packaged goods companies to the network has been a challenge.”

If Follett is more than just a revenue share partner, and actually works with its vendors to try to drive sales of those SKUs, this could be interesting. The response from the brands, so far, must be a little discouraging.

Explore posts in the same categories: Sightings

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