PHOENIX — MB Media, which introduced an eye-catching scrolling sign and advertising display program for vending machines last year (see VT, October 2007), has completed an extensive test of the effect of the program on sales. The sign, an inexpensive LED matrix mounted in a flat enclosure that fits inside a snack machine door at the base of the front glass, receives continually updated promotional and advertising messages over a wireless pager network.
Inventor David Levine, a former operator, conceived it as a versatile, lower-cost and higher-impact alternative to in-machine video displays. One sign, mounted in a snack vender, calls attention to all the machines in a bank by displaying scrolling, continually updated messages that are visible at a distance of 100 ft.
MB Media currently is working with four vending operator partners to gauge the system’s actual performance. The company has conducted tests in public locations and office sites that demonstrate the sign’s value as a point-of-sale merchandising tool, Levine said.
The public-site test, conducted in Arizona, compared the performance of 27 snack and cold-drink machines for a 2007 period when the signs were in place with a comparable earlier period without them. On average, sales increased just over 20%. The boost in office locations is not as great, averaging a bit below 10%, but still is worthwhile, Levine reported.
During the trial, current stock prices were displayed, interspersed with the promotional messages. ML Media plans to offer a sports and news feed when the full system deploys, to maintain patron interest and build traffic in the vending area.
The trials also have demonstrated the reliability of the LED sign itself, Levine reported. To date, there have been no service calls. Light-emitting diodes have a long service life, between five and 10 years.
Levine expects to sell the signs for $199. He added that operators are likely to obtain the greatest benefit from the signs by rolling them out in conjunction with remote monitoring and/or credit and debit card acceptance; this approach would be mutually reinforcing — the sign has the potential for offsetting the cost of the upgrade, and can amplify the sales lift that results from permitting consumers to make noncash purchases.
MB Media also plans to enhance the versatility and range of the program by adding a narrower “junior” sign, sized for installation in smaller four-wide snack venders.
Information about the program as it relates to operators and to advertisers is online at mbmediabrokers.com.