Walmart's new instore network noted as top media and marketing innovation

As the holidays approach things are slowing down and some trade publishers are doing their look-backs and, soon, their look-aheads.

MediaWeek did a run through the 15 notable media and marketing innovations for ’08, and in there was Walmart’s reworked in-store TV network.

Shopper marketing may never be the same. Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. retailer, this year led the way with the rollout of its in-store digital network, the Wal-Mart Smart Network. Powered by Internet Protocol Television, content, ads and merchandising can be monitored and controlled down to a single screen. Even as scores of video networks pop up, this represents a new paradigm, offering a level of precision targeting never before seen. Instead of relying on shelf-talkers and end-of-aisle displays to promote products, the Wal-Mart net creates a dynamic, interactive dialogue between marketer and consumer. (While utilizing the latest technology, the network also is a real throwback in terms of customer service, taking shoppers back to a time when the store clerk knew every item and could help the customer make informed decisions on the spot.) Operated by Premier Retail Networks, the network is the result of two years and $10 million in research aimed at the optimal content and placement of screens for engaging consumers at the point-of-purchase. Up and running in 300 stores in time for the holiday season, Wal-Mart anticipates chain-wide deployment (2,700 U.S. outposts) by early 2010.  

Now just because a trade publication notes the screens in the world’s biggest retailer, that doesn’t mean the industry has crossed some great chasm for good. But I’m not sure the trade pubs were paying much attention to any of this stuff a year ago, and now they are. Even if the last few months have been rocky, it’s clear the industry has finally slipped on to the radar screens of advertisers ands retailers.

Cinema advertising isa also cited as a big, and now legitimized, growth area.