Digital Signage Part Of Microsoft’s Expanding Omnichannel Platform For Retail

January 12, 2023 by Dave Haynes

Did Microsoft just get into retail digital signage?

It looks like it, though only kinda sorta – via a new service called PromoteIQ In-Store, which the technology giant says will come available sometime later in 2023. It is part of the company’s broader retail media platform, PromoteIQ – a toolset that enables interactions with consumers through onsite, offsite, and in-store activations.

The core of what PromoteIQ is all about is allowing retailers to streamline and monetize their online presence by powering targeted advertising. That means a big beverage brand has, potentially, an easier means to do advertising and marketing on, for example, the e-commerce pages of a big box or larger grocery chain.

But brands also want to be marketing in bricks and mortar stores, where final purchasing decisions are influenced and made.

Reasons Microsoft in announcing its in-store capability:

While the last few years have fueled massive investments to support consumer shopping behavior online, for many retailers the most important revenue source is still their brick-and-mortar stores. In-store extends retail media programs into real-world stores, bringing physical shopper marketing into the digital age. Like its ecommerce counterpart, in-store allows brands to connect with high-value shoppers using connected digital signage, whether they’re at the point of purchase or browsing brands as they walk through the store aisles.
We’re announcing today that the PromoteIQ platform has completed a proof of concept, PromoteIQ In-Store, to support retailers as they innovate with content and hardware partners on in-store retail media activations. PromoteIQ In-Store will become available in the next 12 months. Because in-store requires additional physical setup and equipment, including digital signage, we’re working with partners to create an interoperable platform for the ecosystem.
With today’s announcements, the Microsoft PromoteIQ platform will bring together the most complete and holistic suite of retail media products, targeting and measurement capabilities in the market to empower retailers and brands to meet their customers wherever they are, online or offline.

From the perspective of software and operating systems, you could argue that Microsoft has always been in digital signage – as digital signage in its earlier days mainly ran on Windows. Various iterations of Linux have, with time, relegated Windows to almost a specialty operating system in this business, but there are probably still millions of screens driven by boxes running Windows (some of them even up to date, and some still on Windows 7 and even XP).

The wording of the Microsoft announcement suggests that Microsoft isn’t getting directly into offering a CMS or anything like that. It would be a surprise, and weird, it it was. This reads more like CMS platforms that are have retail as a main or sole focus could take commands and ad placements via software integrations. Just about every CMS platform out there lists retail as a main vertical market – because it offers so much scale – but not that many are wholly focused on that. PRN (Stratacache) and Creative Realities come to mind, but there are a few others, as well.

Modern Retail has a post up that reflects much more knowledge than I have about retail media networks, and gets into how this is a response to Amazon’s expanding activity in advertising.

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