If A News Spot Runs In A Mall, Does Anyone Watch It?


Are tight, graphically intense micro news spots and features built for mobile just the content ticket for people who are out in malls shopping?

Not sure, at all, but credit to Adspace Digital Mall Network for going off the heavily worn and dubious playbook by trying something new with information feeds.

The company, which has digital OOH ad screens installed in some 200 malls across the US, has done a partnership with NowThis News to bring short-form video news content to shoppers.

NowThis News already does video news for Instagram and will create three types of features to fit the Adspace large format Smart Screens:

  • Twelve-second breaking news headlines, automatically updated in real time.
  • Fifteen second Instagram edition videos that capture the essence of current and feature news
  • Thirty second news video teasing version, which can be accessed on a smart phone by tapping or scanning an NFC/QR Code enabled “mTAG” on the Smart Screen enclosure.

The two companies will also try to tap into the estimated 26 percent (on average) of marketing budgets brands spend on branded content, by developing  branded content packages to move across both Adspace and NowThis News’ social and mobile outlets.

“We are committed to delivering the news that matters most to the social and mobile generation wherever they are,” said Frank Kavilanz, NowThis News SVP of Strategy and Business Development. “This partnership allows us to reach into malls across the country with timely video and offer brands the opportunity to influence purchase decisions of shoppers through branded content.”

The news release continues:

Adspace’s core programming has focused on the shopping experience, such as highlighting fashion trends and deals within the mall. With this partnership, Adspace is expanding its content offerings targeted directly at Millennials. These mobile-savvy, increasingly social shoppers are accustomed to accessing content where and when they want. Now, they have the ability to view the NowThis News social videos anywhere at will.

“NowThis News helps us target Millennials with content that grabs their attention, and is shareable because of our ability to connect with their smartphones,” said Bill Ketcham, Executive Vice President/CMO of Adspace.

Sue Danaher, Executive Vice President/CRO added, “Importantly, this partnership will create branded content for our advertising partners that will more effectively connect with this skeptical target.”

I am skeptical. The production values of the content are really good and interesting, but I’m not at all convinced there is an appetite or demand of any kind for news in a shopping mall. Soft news, like entertainment, maybe … but just maybe. The people doing these spots understand the allure of good teaser headlines, like: X-Rays May Prove Monroe Had Work Done.

There is also a modest challenge in that the Instagram spots are audio-driven. But many of the spots I looked at also had supporting, hyper-kinetic text narrative.

What I think has legs is branded content, and these guys have the skill set to produce stuff that dances the line between news and ads. That could work well for things like apparel and electronics, the former obviously being a big part of just about any mall. The mobile tie, via NFC or QR code, could work well here, in theory.

Until now, I believe Adspace editorial has been limited to curated deal highlights available in each mall, which is really sound. We’ll see how layering in more editorial affects viewer recall rates and sales. Like almost all Digital OOH networks, Adspace would love to nudge up its percentage of sold inventory.


Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes

Editor/Founder at Sixteen:Nine
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 12 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He's based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Dave Haynes


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Dave Haynes

2 thoughts on “If A News Spot Runs In A Mall, Does Anyone Watch It?”

  1. corrected: So it’s not just me… Some other people don’t quite get it either…
    As I commented when the original press release came out: I would like to see a single study suggesting that mall customers want to see news on digital signs. Hadn’t they just heard all the news in the car or seen it already on their mobiles? Why do they need a mall to be their news source? It seems to be an awful waste of valuable inventory… Unless the inventory is heavily undersold. I’d like to be enlightened if I am mistaken. And what’s wrong with digital signs just helping shoppers to find what they want faster and at the lowest price, and may be cross-sell and up sell them in the process? Isn’t that what they came there for?

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