Big pharma-based DOOH network comes on scene

August 12, 2009 by Dave Haynes

This came out first thing this morning but it had big words in it, so it has taken me a while to digest and relay.
Months in the works and quietly moving along in the background, one of the more ambitious and probably sustainable DOOH networks to pop up in a while was announced this morning.

Dallas-based Respario Digital Advertising Group went public with the deal it has done to install screens in as many as 5,000 franchise and independent pharmacies associated with Cardinal Health, a $91 billion (yes, billion) health care company that is No. 18 on the Fortune 500 and has about 30,000 people. Respario is launching the Pharmacy Health Network – effectively screens in drug stores with health-focused content, supported by targeted advertising.
The program was introduced recently at Cardinal’s annual trade show for retailers and more than 700 stores signed up at that time, with more coming in since then.
Says the press release:
Respario, which has established a dedicated network operations center to manage the Pharmacy Health Network, is responsible for network installation, management and programming.
Ian Stone, Chief Experience Officer of Respario, states, “The goal of Pharmacy Health Network is to help pharmacists and advertisers connect with health-conscious consumers when they visit their local pharmacy and educate those customers with relevant information at the point-of-influence. The typical consumer visits their pharmacy more than once a month to access professional, personalized and useful advice. The Pharmacy Health Network aims to augment this relationship by delivering programming that enhances consumer awareness regarding their health choices and options.”
The Pharmacy Health Network system includes a 32″ commercial grade LCD screen, a media player that receives content from a central server, a directional speaker system and a high quality brochure rack. There are no upfront or ongoing costs to participating local pharmacies and the only items required to participate are electrical power and a shared high speed Internet connection.
The technology underlying the Pharmacy Health Network is the NEOCAST® digital signage platform from Real Digital Media. NEOCAST® provides an optimum solution
for businesses or network owners requiring economical, reliable and scalable digital signage based on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery model. This architecture
eliminates IT infrastructure investments, reduces deployment costs and maintenance overhead, and ensures networks are always operating using the latest technology and feature benefits.
Ken Goldberg, CEO of Real Digital Media, states, “The launch of Pharmacy Health Network is an exciting event that represents the efforts of three companies working
collaboratively to establish the objectives, requirements and metrics required for digital signage success. Cardinal Health’s involvement as owner of the network is a significant development for digital out-of-home advertising. Their longstanding relationships with various suppliers will greatly benefit Respario’s efforts to engage media planners and agencies seeking to take advantage of an advertising outlet dedicated to the health and wellness segment.”
It’s a real rollout, not just blabber about a big rollout of 1,000s that then stalls at a hundred or so. I’m told a target of 1,000 sites within a year is entirely reasonable, and that’s a critical mass number that will get brands interested. The guys like Adcentricity and SeeSaw will be interested long before it reaches four figures, if Respario opts in with them.
I like this for a few reasons, but mostly because it targets a sector with big marketing budgets – over the counter pharmaceuticals. All those guys will be interested in a screen that is in close proximity to the cough and cold formulas, and other potions and lotions.
But it is also no slam-dunk. This is not the first time pharmacy sections have been targeted by ad networks and no one has, so far, entirely cracked the code. 
I also like this because it’s a big win for RDM and Goldberg, a really nice guy with what looks to be a solid SaaS-based product. This will get the company quite a bit of attention. 
I heard the name Respario come up in sales discussions from my dark past, so I suspect there are a few software vendors who’d had this one in their pipeline. 

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