OMAHA, NE -- Nebraska Technical Services, a music and amusement operating company serving Nebraska and Iowa, has joined forces with a local advertising agency here to bring paid commercial messages to coin-op amusement screens. The partnership is working to bring local advertising to Megatouch countertops, Big Buck Hunters and TouchTunes jukeboxes, all of which can be managed over administrative networks.
NTS has formed a subsidiary, Digital Advertising Media, to work with Check-Inn Advertising LLC (Papillion, NE). Check-Inn specializes in producing hospitality magazines and small billboards for common areas like elevators and space in bars, restaurants and hotels, among other public venues (a category known as "concierge" and "inside" advertising). The new alliance is already signing contracts.
In addition to videogames and jukes, the place-based ad program from DAM and Check-Inn also makes use of AMI Entertainment Network's Tap.tv and TouchTunes' Barfly digital media networks for location television receivers. Barfly wraps an L-shaped banner around broadcast TV, while Tap.tv provides private content. The Omaha marketing enterprise sees a role for both mediums, which are not contractually exclusive. In fact, it plans to deploy both in the same venues to capture a greater screen presence.
Joe Wojcik, NTS marketing director and head of DAM, notes that Omaha is not on the radar of the major national brands that coin-op's big interactive media companies are trying to land for advertising. So the operation is going to develop its own market area aggressively.
James Kelley, a principal of Check-Inn, reported that the program treats each location as a "micro-market," and it offers exposure to prospective advertisers on a single-site basis or in large blocks of locations. "Currently, we have 425-plus micro-markets and more than 600 individual touchstones," he told VT.
For its advertising program, DAM is targeting three of eight available screen display areas to run the local ads; the remaining five are devoted primarily to league promotions. Each display area accommodates an "ad board" with five positions. The entire board can be purchased by one advertiser, or may be assembled as a composite of up to five individual ads.
"The ads come on during the attract mode," Wojcik explained. "With the touchstones, an ad shows up every seven minutes, with a 20-second duration. On average with the other games, they repeat two times an hour."
He added that the advertising alliance uploads the advertising material to NTS's Megatouch and Big Buck screens. At present, conventional placards are posted on jukebox faces. They measure 21.5" wide by 28.5" high.
Quarterly and annual ad contracts are sold; jukebox poster advertising requires an annual contract, because of the legwork required to replace them.
The agency sells the space at a flat rate per location with a minimum of 100 locations, Wojcik explained. It also creates the screen graphics, and manages local modeling talent for some campaigns.
All materials and potential locations are approved by DAM prior to dissemination. This is an essential component in the concept, since many locations would look askance at advertising for competing venues on their coin-op equipment. However, there seem to be more than enough noncompeting advertisers to fill the bill, and locations can reject any ad they find objectionable.
Taxi services and security companies, as well as law firms, including one prominent DUI lawyer, are among the first local business types to sign on.
"It's new, and there's a definite buzz about our coin-op ad program," said Mark Casteel, another Check-Inn principal. "It's a brand-new thing that nobody else is doing. Once you explain it to location management, and show them the value, they are open to trying it."
While generating revenue is important, DAM and Check-Inn are mostly focused on refining the concept. If successful, Wojcik said, the project will allow NTS to reduce account fees for its leagues by some 75%, thereby increasing brand loyalty to the operator.
"This is a wonderful melding of brand and call-to-action marketing," Kelley summed up. "Whether you realize it or not, your subconscious is seeing the ad. You're seeing them, whether you're thinking about it or not."
Check-Inn and NTS report smooth sailing for the concept so far, with the program evolving from concept to reality in near-record time. They anticipate working some of the bugs out of the system as they go along.
"We are charting a unique territory, and some of this is trial and error," said Wojcik. "But I think we put enough thought into where we want to go that most problems are eliminated.
"We want DAM to be self-sustaining, but we're not looking to make a profit for the first few years," he continued. "We're very aggressive with the future, and know where we want to go."
Looking ahead, DAM is exploring the potential of offering the program to other operating companies in the market areas it serves.
Nebraska Technical Services was established in 1984 by Rod and Marilyn Kruse. It now serves 600 accounts.
Check-Inn, founded in 2009 as a direct marketer, is online at checkinnadvertising.com.