How To Make In-Store Retail Media Responsive To Consumer Moments

May 22, 2024 by guest author, Ron Levac

Guest Post: Ron Levac, Spectrio

Ron LevacThe core idea of digital signage in retail is putting screens where shoppers go, and hoping the messages on them get noticed and influence purchasing decisions. But what if you could tune the messages to that moment when consumers notice, and respond to what they do?

A new generation of digital signage solutions pairs content management with robust audience measurement technology to deliver greater insights and returns for on-premise retail media networks. 

Typical digital signage messaging in retail involves a screen that people see, with creative that tries to create awareness and drive action, somehow, with an arresting visual and some very brief wording. It can work, though it’s anything but foolproof.

Shopper Journeys

How about doing messaging based on proximity or dwell time, and changing the design, tone, and strategy behind that messaging based on how that shopper approaches a screen and merchandised retail space?

I think of this dynamic as being responsive – just like online content changes based on your screen orientation and size. The technology responds to where shoppers are and how they react to the on-screen messages.

You can think of it as steps in a consumer’s micro-journey, using a simple, totally anonymous sensor to pick up when a shopper is in a defined viewing range of a screen. Here’s how that would set up:

That sequencing can also work for efforts like driving impulse purchases, or encouraging sign-ups for loyalty programs.

Triggered Responses

Triggered content for digitally-driven merchandising is not new. Elemental proximity sensors have been available for years, as have other simple devices like RFID readers or mechanical switches that enable tactics like Lift and Learn – with products displayed at a fixture or counter triggering explanatory content or calls to action when they’re lifted up by shoppers.

This is different, because the content is tuned to where shoppers are and responding to what they do if and when they demonstrate interest.

The sensors can be radar-based or use cameras linked to computer vision software that detects but doesn’t identify individual shoppers or store any personally identifiable information.

The tactic of placing screens in-stores to directly influence shopper behaviors has been used for many years, but widespread adoption has been limited because of the high capital costs, operating challenges and how and where consumer brands allocated marketing dollars.

Addressing Retail Media’s Opportunity

Much of that has changed for the better, and that’s triggered a boom in what are called Retail Media Networks (RMNs) – usually proprietary efforts by retailers to coordinate messaging across online, mobile, and now, in-store, on screens.

The cost of key technologies has lowered, and the different management platforms that drive and deliver consumer marketing are increasingly integrated. For example, programmatic advertising sales – both the agency demand side and the venue operator supply side – can now work seamlessly with digital signage CMS platform to secure, automate, and direct marketing initiatives across a variety of touchpoints, including in-store screens.

The other big advance is with analytics, the ability to accurately measure how consumers move around stores and respond to in-store retail media. It’s one thing to understand overall foot traffic, but analytics tied to specific displays enables retailers and brand partners to have measures on everything from dwell times to which displays and creative have the most powerful impact on sales or promotions. It can also provide insights into what’s not working, and because the medium is digital, marketers aren’t stuck with the idea that went out with a static campaign. Creative can be tweaked or swapped out, because it’s a file change – not a new order for the printers.

The possibilities for RMNs are huge, but experience has taught marketers that just putting screens in stores is not the full answer. There should be careful thinking about the dynamics of shoppers, the screens they see, and the timing and tone of the messages on display.

And for validation, analytics help retailers and brands understand what’s working and what might need adjustments.


Ron Levac is Chief Innovation Officer at Spectrio. Ron leads Spectrio’s innovation efforts by collaborating closely with the executive team to expand our market presence, enhance product development, and boost brand recognition. Ron oversees and implements changes in methods and processes to strengthen Spectrio’s competitiveness and organizational efficiencies.

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