Tesco shuts down retail TV, confirms crappy concepts don't work

February 28, 2009 by Dave Haynes

Word out of the UK late week was that the Tesco hypermarket chain was shutting down its in-store TV network.

Brand Republic reports the Tesco Screens network is being shut down because the equipment was outdated and energy inefficient and speculates that it probably also had a lot to do with the service not cranking a lot of money.

This will create a little bit of a problem for people targeting the retail sector, however I think any retailer that is seriously looking at this space will also conclude that the Tesco network was doomed from the start. Trying to install effective, engaging networks in big honkin’ stores like Tesco is really hard. There is so much space to cover, and so much going on visually, that getting screens into the right places and having an impact is an enormous challenge. 

As noted elsewhere, screens suspended from the ceilings and above the shelves don’t even get noticed by many people because shoppers don’t naturally look up that much when they are shopping. People are also steadily moving around, and don’t have all that much interest in stopping to watch a 15 second TV spot.

No amount of great content work will help with those dynamics in play. 

What we know is that screens at eye-level, right where the promoted products are located, DO have a major impact. I know of one company with a screen product that is actually pretty weak, but routinely sells out because it is fixed in line with product promotions for short flights and routinely gets 30 per cent sales lifts. It doesn’t have to be brilliant, it just has to be evident and contextually relevant.

I am not going to speculate directly on the future of some other high profile networks with a similar approach, but I see one like that all the time, and I see few sold ads and few people looking. That one, I think, is going away within a year because the revenues can’t be in the same hemisphere as the ops costs.

Bagging these big. mass footprint stores for ad or promotion networks would seem like a really great opportunity, but if the screen placement and content plan is flawed, and the capital costs to roll the thing out very large, it’s a very risky venture.

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