Last-Second Ads Prior to Purchase and New Funding Are Driving Cooler Screens’ Expansion

The Chicago-based tech company is now valued at half a billion dollars

The company plans to install its technology in 2,500 Walgreens stores across the U.S. Cooler Screens
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Business is heating up for Cooler Screens.

The technology company that replaces refrigerator and freezer doors with digital screens that display ads alongside product inventory said Monday it had secured $80 million in funding from investors including Verizon Ventures and Microsoft’s M12 venture fund, valuing the company at half a billion dollars. The new cash infusion will aid Cooler Screens’ expansion across the U.S.

“Cooler Screens is taking what Amazon started on the web and finishing it at the point of sale in the store,” said Arsen Avakian, CEO and co-founder of Cooler Screens, which debuted in 2018. The idea, he added, is to complete “the last mile of advertising for brands.”

Evidence suggests the strategy is working. Argo Tea, a Chicago-based chain of tea cafes that has shifted its focus to ready-to-drink beverages, began advertising with Cooler Screens in May. (Avakian is also the founder of Argo Tea and maintains a board seat but is not involved in the company’s day-to-day operations.) That month, Argo Tea’s sales were 16% higher at retailers with Cooler Screens than those without the technology. The following month, the difference in revenue widened to 26%.

“So many consumers make their decision on what to purchase at the shelf,” said Pete Kazanas, vp of sales at Argo Tea, who called Cooler Screens a “game changer.”

Argo Tea’s products are currently available at over 15,000 retailers, including more than 7,000 Walgreens locations.

In addition to displaying ads, Cooler Screens comes equipped with sensors to let retailers know when a certain item is running low. The technology is also programmed to show different ads according to a variety of factors, such as the time of day and weather. On hot days, for example, it’s more likely to serve an ad for ice cream.

Earlier this year, Cooler Screens released plans to expand to another 2,500 Walgreens stores across the country. The news came after a yearlong test at six stores, followed by an expansion to 50 Walgreens locations in the greater Chicago area.

Once the expansion is complete, Cooler Screens expects to reach around 2.5 million in-store Walgreens shoppers per day.

Other partners include Kroger and GetGo convenience stores.

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@hiebertpaul Paul Hiebert is a CPG reporter at Adweek, where he focuses on data-driven stories that help illustrate changes in consumer behavior and sentiment.