Taking in The Ripple Effect

May 7, 2007 by Dave Haynes


My boss passed on a piece today from a media mag that reworked a press release from a relatively new company called Ripple, which is taking a bit of an interestingly different crack at running a network and selling ads in this space.

Says the press release:

Ripple, the first nationwide out-of-home Lifestyle Digital Media company delivering hyper-local content on flat screen panels in retail locations, today unveiled a new online self-service advertising tool that enables any business in the country to simply and cost-effectively create, place and manage ad campaigns in establishments right in their own neighborhoods.

Ripple, which received its initial funding from Trinity Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson, has already built a network of more than 400 high traffic locations throughout Southern California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii, reaching nearly 10 million individual consumers every month. Starting today, businesses can use the newly available Ripple Ad Center to reach millions of potential customers as the company now aggressively builds a nationwide network footprint with leading retail location partners. Ripple’s continuing network expansion is expected to reach a few thousand locations nationwide by the end of this year.

“We are building a nationwide network of locations in communities across the country that offers unprecedented hyper-local advertising opportunities to businesses of every size,” said Ali Diab, Ripple Co-Founder and President, Products and Technology. “The neighborhood sporting goods store down the street now has the capability to build a TV-quality ad, place it in the coffee shop a few doors down and have the power to change or adjust that campaign on the fly through the Ripple Ad Center.”

The idea of hyper-local advertising has quite a bit of merit, particularly in the US – where media networks with aspirations of national ad buys learn pretty quickly they need to either be really DEEP in one monster market like New York or have solid covferage in the top 20 biggest markets. A lot of those network operators end up in the chicken and egg thing of needing national ad buys to afford to expand but hearing they won’t get thise kinds of buys until they expand.

By going local, they are tapping into local advertisers who usually don’t have an agency or a media planner or even a marketing strategy. What they do have is a need to get more butts in their hair salon chairs or elbows on their restaurant tables. This sort of thing can work, particularly if instead of an ad sales force, you have an online ad placement tool and enough awareness to drive people to it.

The Ripple AdCenter allows media to be planned online, and I am guessing (you have to register to get too deep) it requires a credit card to book an ad. That works around one of the biggest challenges of selling local ads – getting the damn people to pony up with cash for said ads. They’d rather barter. Or pay you waaay later.

Where I do have issues with this are in two areas: one readily apparent; the other imagined.

The screens these guys promote is as BUSY as I have ever seen. How someone notices an ad, never mind avoids a vertigo attack, I don’t know. See demo here. It’s a browser using frames and some Java or DHTML headline crawlers and a clock and … just waaaay too much.

I can assure these guys that just about anybody stumbling into a corner shop in LA for a pack of smokes isn’t in deep need of knowing how Pfizer is doing on the market. But if there wasn’t so much crap climbing up and down all over the screen he might notice the ad in the middle telling him to go to the cooler and buy a Red Bull.

The other thing is this idea of anybody logging in and creating their own ads that will be “TV quality.” As a client, you choose your background. You choose your font. Maybe something spins. A logo slides in or explodes! Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Maybe the finished ads won’t look like hell. But the chances of them being engaging, and of them standing out from the other templated ads, ain’t great.

So applause for trying something different, and for being clever.

But guys, you need to apply the same ingenuity to your content plan.

  1. Josh Coffman says:

    Agreed. There is too much information on the template. Ad effectiveness and rates are less when they have to compete for screen space with other content as well.

    Providing local advertisers with a way to create ads easily is a great idea though. Many do not have the budget to create unique digital signage spots.

    I will say however, that on first impression I think having that action on both sides (one up and one down) actually made me focus on the center more, haha. Would be interesting to see some studies on that.

  2. Steve Yetsko says:

    Ripple TV used to be called Active Maps. They have been around for at least a year or so. I’ve seen them first hand out in Orange Co. in a coffee shop. The evening I saw the sign I was suffering from Jet lag from a Philly to John Wayne flight as well as sleep deprivision, so I’m not sure if the dizziness I experienced when looking at the sign was all attributable to everything moving on the sign or if it was just me.

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