Arbitron study suggests fast food outlets are a solid media environments

April 11, 2008 by Dave Haynes

Digital media network operator Indoor Direct has released results of a study run by Arbitron that validates the quick-service restaurant industry as a prime audience for in-store digital media.

The study, done in Wendy’s, Denny’s, Hardee’s, Arby’s, and CiCi’s Pizza stores, indicates nearly 100 million people – about 42% of the US adult population – chow down at these places at least once a month.

Some highlights from the study, from Marketing Charts:

* On average, quick-service restaurant patrons spent 32 minutes in the dining areas with a screen.

* 85% of diners noticed either the promotional digital board located at the order counter and/or the screen(s) in the dining area.
* 9 out of 10 customers that noticed the dining area screens said they spent “some” or almost all of their time watching.
* In-store ads can be more effective than TV spots:
* Nearly two-thirds (65%) of those who noticed the screens could successfully recall at least one of the advertisers on an aided basis. For individual brands, average recall was 25%.
* The majority of restaurant customers (57%) said they were more likely to purchase a product or service after seeing it featured on the screens.

The research also looked at programming, which much to my surprise suggested people actually like to catch up on the news. Why, when inhaling a burger, I will never know. The brainless stuff I would think would test well, given the boom market in celebrity journalism, actually tested lowest. I do think there is, however, a bit of psychology happening in that people being interviewed will tend to say they are more interested in things they SHOULD be interested in … when they’re really not.

* 43% of dining-area viewers said they liked (a “4? or “5? rating) the programming.
* News/human interest stories and TV shows/movie clips were the most popular forms of programming content – 51% and 50%, respectively, of restaurant customers said they “like” or “really like” them.

Even the snowboarder and skateboarder stuff I see rolling away on screens in some places seems to resonate, which again largely escapes me. I know … different generation.

“We found that diners we studied often tend to be on site or en route to shopping destinations such as malls and department stores or going to a movie when they stop into a casual dining or quick-service restaurant,” said Diane Williams, product manager, custom research for Arbitron Inc.

“Brand messages in out-of home environments such as quick service and casual dining restaurants have the potential to influence consumers right before or after a shopping or entertainment event.”

THAT makes much more sense to me, as it is relevant.

The screen demos on the company website show how they do things. As always I think the screen is way too busy and doesn’t need the dreaded news ticker, but they do some nice things too … notably a static skyscraper ad that is sync’d with the main 4:3 ad.

Indoor Direct plans to roll out displays into some 1,000 locations among those restaurants and others by the end of this summer. I don’t know much of anything about these guys, but based on the website bios the management team is very solid and they are making the right moves in validating their audience.

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