Two approaches to shopping malls

I am at the International Council of Shopping Centers trade show in Lost Wages, Nevada, having a look at the industry and getting away from the butt-ugly cold weather around the great lakes and northeast.

This is a trade show that is all about building and leasing shopping mall space, and I have never seen anything like it in terms of the way this thing operates. There are some 45,000 attendees and most of them are running around taking meetings in flashy wood-panelled offices (except they're on a trade show floor). I know diddly about this business, except that there is clearly a LOT of money in it.

Two of the biggest mall developers in the US are at the show, and they are taking two very different approaches to digital signage.

Urban Retail Properties was there announcing its URTV Television Network, which is essentially a turnkey offer for mall tenants inside their stores.

Simon Property Group was at the next mega-booth over promoting its OnSpot Network, an ad-based effort being worked in conjunction with the ad agency Publicis and focused on the common spaces in malls.

OnSpot is another stab at sticking up screens and selling eyeballs, albeit LOTS of them. Screens will be sprinkled around Simon-operated shopping malls in the US, with the rollout coming after the company tested the concept at Roosevelt Field Mall in New York state. 

The initial test attracted several retailers and brands, and the content loop will be a blend of pure spots and relevant information.

The rollout was presumably OK'd after measurement by Arbitron suggested the public didn't mind the screens, and had a far higher ad recall level than that of mainstream network television. One fashion jeweller also showed a clear increase on sales based on promoted items.

Chicago-based Urban Retail is pitching a turnkey solution in the stores (not common areas), with some strategy and content partners working in the background.