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RESEARCH: Digital media in bars impacts the ad-adverse

NEW YORK — A new national survey revealed that out-of-home, bar-based digital networks are an effective and efficient way for advertisers to counter growing ad skipping and TV commercial avoidance among young adults.

A majority — 78 percent — of bar visitors surveyed could recall at least one of four advertisers that ran ads on bar-based digital screens and billboards, according to the Zoom Media & Marketing survey administered by the media research firm Arbitron. Additionally, the survey revealed that brand-aided recall ranged from 37 to 53 percent, confirming that people not only saw the ads on the digital screens, but remembered the advertisers.

“While there’s been much speculation about how marketers can reach consumers that have learned to opt out of ads, this survey definitively shows that digital screens in bars are an advertising option that can have a strong impact on the highly desirable but evasive 21-to-34 year old demographic,” said Lee Levitz, vice president of marketing at Zoom Media & Marketing.

Levitz noted that the research also showed that digital screens increased top-of-mind awareness in terms of specific brands. In other words, consumers who were exposed to the advertising were much more likely to consider certain brands as category leaders. For example, when asked what they thought the top new video games were, twice as many people were likely to answer “Assassin’s Creed” — which was one of the commercials used in the survey — compared to those not exposed to the ad.

“The ability to drive this type of awareness is very important to advertisers looking to promote new product launches or support brands in highly competitive categories,” Levitz said. “The bottom line is that when you combine these recall rates with the ability to significantly increase brand awareness, it’s a one-two punch for advertisers looking to break though the barriers in terms of reaching this audience.”

High dwell time and flexible media

According to the survey, 40 percent of the people polled said they frequented bars more than 10 times a month. Additionally, Zoom estimates actual time spent in bars and clubs averages 2.5 hours per visit.
“There’s no question that the significant dwell time in front of these digital signs allows for long exposure and increased awareness,” Levitz said. “Just as importantly, people are choosing to be in these social settings and consequently are much more receptive to advertising messages. When it comes to bar media, the ad opt-out generation is opting-in.”

To help generate consumer attention, Zoom’s Social Digital Network also lets advertisers use everything from short-form and 30-second adapted TV spots and Internet video, to lengthier forms including one- and two-minute clips that communicate longer messages.

The survey revealed that the audience polled was overwhelmingly comprised of consumers who are early adopters of new products and services, as well as influencers among their peers and family. Additionally, over 79 percent of those interviewed said their friends and family seek them out for advice on new products and services, 87 percent indicated that they actively recommend new products to others, and 93 percent said that their advice influences the consumer habits of others.

Survey methodology

Arbitron conducted in-person surveys with 530 randomly selected patrons aged 21 or older who had been in the test bars at least one hour. The study was conducted at 8 bars located in New York and Los Angeles. Four of the bars contained Zoom Social Network displays and ran the test campaigns for Saab, Visit London, Stride Gum and “Assassin’s Creed” video game. The other four bars did not run these campaigns and functioned as the control group.

A $5 cash incentive was awarded to respondents at the end of the interview. The surveys were fielded from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. on January 17-19. Recall rates were determined by asking bar-goers in the test locations what advertisements they remembered seeing on digital signage. Lift was determined by asking bar-goers in the test and control locations to name the top three brands that come to mind in the advertiser’s categories. Responses from the test and control groups were then compared to determine percentage lift in top-of-mind awareness.