Wal-Mart taking in-store TV network in new, much better direction

July 22, 2008 by Dave Haynes

Adrian’s Daily DOOH portal has a piece written by on the original chroniclers of this industry, Bill Collins, on the plans for a complete revamp of the Wal-Mart TV network.

Anyone who’s wandered into a US Wal-Mart store has seen the network and been wholly underwhelmed by the scattering of CRT TV screens, way up high, though stores and long-form spots that really don’t work. The new vision, reports Collins, involves thew following:

  1. Bring screens down to eye level
  2. Build screens into endcaps, fixtures and shelving
  3. Abandon the 2001-2002 “hang and bang” model where flat screens are hung nilly-willy around the store, mostly in locations that are difficult for shoppers to see
  4. Control audio so that the soundtrack of these networks is welcomed by shoppers and store employees alike
  5. Pack merchandise around the screens and speakers, so that the sound-and-motion media serves a useful purpose for both marketing and merchandising just as conventional Point-of-Purchase displays do

The new network will be owned and operated by Wal-Mart, and Collins has the suspicion the early rollout will be happening as early as this fall.

Mike Hiatt, who runs the store media network program, sent me a note to clarify the role of Premier Retail Networks in the new deployment. “While PRN’s role is shifting in regards to the upcoming deployment, they will continue to play a key role in the execution of this network.”

UPDATE: This was nagging at me that I had heard about this before.

  1. Bill Collins says:


    Good afternoon. Thanks for posting about the piece I wrote for Adrian Cotterill’s Daily DOOH about the new Wal-Mart Smart network.

    It’s very exciting that Wal-Mart is preparing to present the new network concept to advertisers in a closed-door session. Whenever a retailer takes that step, it’s a good indication that the new network concept is ready for prime time.

    When Wal-Mart’s Mike Hiatt spoke at the Digital Signage Expo last February in Las Vegas, he confirmed that the new network (at that time, it had not been named yet) was being piloted at 40 stores. Hiatt also confirmed the extensive consumer-research (including DS-IQ’s system) that had already been done to evaluate it in the fall of 2007.

    During the Q&A after his presentation, I asked Mr. Hiatt what Wal-Mart’s plans were to expand the network beyond the 40 stores. He answered by saying that the company was not ready to discuss that issue externally.

    But now here it is five (5) months later, and Wal-Mart is ready to announce that this symposium for the CPG brands and their agencies is ready to be staged during a high-profile industry event, the In-Store Marketing Expo from the In-Store Marketing Institute.

    Obviously, this means that Wal-Mart has moved forward and is ready to sell advertising based on a network that has a significantly larger footprint than just the 40 stores that Hiatt confirmed in February.

    To me, what’s exciting about this is that many retailers are pulling back now on all their capital spending (for obvious and logical reasons). But, Wal-Mart has decided that, even in this challenging economic environement, defveloping a powerful presence for in-store digital media is an important part of their store strategy going forward.

    This is a very big deal for retail, and for what we sometimes call “Digital Signage.” It has been a long time coming, but it’s happening now as we speak. Thanks again, Dave, for posting the piece. I hope to see you at some of the industry trade showsthis fall. I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to connect at InfoComm (I saw you, but you were busy talking to a prospect. Ha!).

    Best regards,

    Bill Collins

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