Is the Office a fertile DS advertising ground?

July 18, 2008 by Dave Haynes

I am done, done, done starting ad-based digital signage networks (I’ve renounced my poverty vows), but I still noodle around ideas for different ways to go at this business.

Like maybe running a network of screens in workplaces – providing office managers with a staff-facing messaging platform but bolstering it with targeted advertising.

Sounds slightly nutty, but we all run steadily into people looking to drive the costs down for these installs to little or nothing  because they’ve been given a teeny budget and no real support from their employers. And then there’s the research to suggest workplaces are fertile advertising grounds.

The results of a new study, conducted by consumer intelligence firm BIGresearch, into the media and shopping behavior of consumers at work, finds that Americans are spending 60% of their waking hours at work, more than ever before. Marketing chiefs are rethinking their ad budgets and advertisers are preparing to meet a new, highly coveted, yet entirely untapped demographic on their own beige-carpeted turf.

Those results are summarized in a blog post by the Center for Media Research.

At-work consumers research products online before purchasing, with 47.2% of them reporting having researched electronics online in the last 90 days during the workday before making a purchase in a store. And, almost ¾ of at-work consumers indicate they regularly or occasionally dine out or purchase groceries and beverages during the workday, says the report.

The survey looks at the unique shopping behavior of consumers during the workday, including the role of online search as a catalyst to retail purchase, grocery shopping, casual and fast food dining preferences, and new media consumption.

Phil Rist, EVP-Strategy at BIGresearch, says “… As marketers are looking to maximize ROI, the importance of targeting gainfully employed, value-seeking consumers is essential.”

With rising pump prices and busy schedules, consumers are highly likely to consolidate shopping trips, making purchases on their drive to or from work, or during their lunch break. Online research during the workday and consolidated trips, says the report, can be leveraged by marketers, to influence purchase decisions in the workplace and buying during commute time.

A screen network would have to target key employee crossroads like lunchrooms, and the advertising would have to be very carefully managed, not to mention a clear message to staff that the ads were paying for the system.

There’s history to suggest the office market is attractive, particularly with the footprint and success of Captivate in office tower elevators. No one I’m aware of is targeting the billions of square feet in low rise or single level offices that don’t even have elevators.

There’s the challenge of determining how much cash (millions) it would take to reach a critical mass of installations in enough markets, and that crazy little thing called advertising sales strategy. But I have to think companies like Staples and FedEx and the entire convenience food industry would love to target the suburban office crowd.

Interesting, but I’m not doing it.

  1. Eric says:

    Yeah, but would you want to encourage your employees spending MORE time at work doing consumer research? I’m sure the advertisers would love it, but would the employers?

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