The Diverse Appeal of Digital Screens

Grocery stores are busy places, with some of the largest chains welcoming tens, if not hundreds of millions of visitors every week. By virtue of that fact, store media – across many different formats that range from radio to point-of-sale – has the ability to engage a wider audience than even some of the largest broadcast media outlets and print publications.

For brand advertisers, tasked as they are with getting their products in front of new and existing customers alike, that’s a golden opportunity. Not only does store media provide them with access to a potentially massive audience, it gives them access to those people at a time when they’re already looking for inspiration and ideas about what to buy next.

Opportunity, of course, doesn’t always translate into guaranteed success. Grocery stores really are busy places, presenting shoppers with numerous distractions at once. Combined with the fact that grocery shopping can also be a fairly utilitarian exercise – with many customers wanting to get in, grab what they came for, and get out again – achieving the requisite cut-through to provoke a response is crucial.

Enter digital screens. In one survey conducted earlier this year, 11,000 people from around the world had more than a few positive things to say about digital signage[1]. 50% of consumers said that digital screens encouraged them to make a purchase “right there and then”, 53% that they gave them all of the information they needed to make a purchase, and 77% that they found them to be either “very” or “quite” informative.

Shoppers aren’t the only ones enticed by the appeal of digital screens, either. While it dates back a little now, one grocery-focused study looking at the impact of digital signage for consumer packaged goods brands found that four out of five saw sales uplift of up to 33%[2]. As good as digital screens are at raising awareness and prompting consideration, they clearly drive impact at the lower end of the marketing funnel too.

To me, it’s this rich diversity that defines the true appeal of digital screens. Retail media, and specifically grocery-based media, is set up in a way that enables brands to meet multiple objectives via the same channels at once. It’s no longer the case that digital screens are only suitable for shopper marketing teams, for instance, because it’s clear that – used effectively – those assets can do everything from raise brand awareness to spark impulse purchases.

At the heart of this shift is the growing amount of flexibility on offer. Digital screens at the entrance to stores may have been (relatively) commonplace for some time now, but signage within the in-store environment is becoming similarly pervasive too. Across the Tesco estate in Ireland, for instance, advertisers now have access to everything from storefront displays through to “goalpost” screens in-aisle and large-format screen walls in key locations.

Much as this presents brands with a greater range of formats with which to communicate with shoppers, it also speaks to the growing level of creative freedom on offer, too.

As noted above, digital screens aren’t “just” being used for traditional purposes like showcasing new products anymore. With some retailers now offering much greater flexibility when it comes to creative approaches, we’re seeing a much greater opportunity for brand expression, too. Above the line campaigns that shoppers may already have seen on television can now be extended into the store in new and engaging ways.

Heineken’s “Amplify Your Summer” campaign serves as an excellent example of this in action. Complementing a wider marketing push, this initiative used a combination of goalpost screens and printed assets to create mini festival stages inside Tesco stores. With the screens delivering localised and contextually-relevant content to shoppers, the beer company drove a 1.1% increase in market share during the campaign period.

Relevance is another significant consideration when it comes to digital screens, of course. One of the key advantages of digital signage over printed display is that screens allow for messages to be tailored and updated much faster and more cost effectively. With the right creative approach and – crucially – the right insights behind them, brands can use digital screens to “own the moment” when communicating with shoppers.

There are numerous ways in which this can play out. Perhaps it’s a calendar-based approach, with ads tailored to key dates like Valentine’s Day or a public holiday. It could be temperature controlled, with brands activating ads for specific products when the mercury soars (or plummets). It can even be a simple reminder that it’s almost the weekend, and thus a good time for shoppers to let their hair down a little.

Take Coca-Cola’s Real Magic campaign, for instance, on show at Tesco stores this Christmas as seen in the images below. It’s a perfect example of how digital screens can be used to bring additional appeal to a display area, draw attention to an incentive in the form of a competition, and capture the spirit of the season – all at once, and all in a coherent and visually engaging way.


Coca-Cola’s Real Magic campaign

Coca-Cola’s Real Magic campaign

Coca-Cola’s Real Magic campaign

So, digital screens offer reach, results, and relevance – but there’s one more thing that I’d like to add to that list, and that’s accountability.

Of the many benefits offered by grocery-based digital signage, I’d argue that one of the most powerful (particularly right now) is the ability for brands to track the direct impact of their efforts on key performance indicators like sales and category share. With the store environment providing a “closed loop” that links what people see with what they buy, brands can gain detailed insight into the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Importantly, that capability is only going to improve as we move forwards into the future. As my colleague Anthony has written on this very blog, technological developments like proximity sensors have the potential to drive a fundamental transformation in our understanding of factors like dwell time and engagement. As time goes by, our ability to measure the performance of digital screens will get even better than it is today.

From shopper to brand marketing, awareness to action, digital screens provide a way to do it all – and prove the impact of doing it, too.


[1] The DOOH Difference Report – Sightline, 2022

[2] Nielsen study: DOOH increases revenue at the point of sale – Digital Signage Today, 27th January 2010

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