New Software To Track In-Store Radio

Now that in-store radio networks have expanded to the point where some in-store audiences surpass that of the largest mainstream radio network, one company will begin tracking reach and frequency in an effort to bring ad sales up to speed. Interactive Market Systems, a media planning software provider, this week will begin measuring in-store radio’s effectiveness—something media planners and ad agencies have been without.

The top radio network in the country is Kroger InStore Network, which more than 110 million shoppers listen to each month as they stroll down grocery aisles, according to Scarborough Research. By comparison, the most widely listened-to terrestrial commercial radio network, ABC Daytime Direction, commands a monthly audience of about 70 million.

However, advertising placed on in-store networks is still small—an estimated annual $400 million to $500 million—said Rob Brazell, CEO of InStore Broadcasting Network, which supplies retailers with radio and TV networks nationwide. That’s a sliver of the estimated $19 billion spent on traditional broadcast nets each year, per Pricewaterhouse-Coopers. “But it’s doubling every year,” Brazell added.

Part of the problem for the planners has been a lack of regularly supplied audience-size and frequency data for the in-store networks, says George Wishart, president of IMS, which will begin supplying such data for the first time as part of its MarketMate-Radio planning software.

IMS plans to provide similar data for in-store TV networks starting in early 2006. The software will enable planners to convert store-traffic data collected by Scarborough (owned jointly by Arbitron and VNU) into equivalent gross ratings points and other measures that planners can use to determine how much in-store advertising should be in their clients’ marketing mix.

Agencies welcome the new data. “The store is no longer just a point of distribution, but an active medium unto itself,” said Mel Korn, CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi Collaborative Marketing.