OMAHA, NE -- It's been two years since Nebraska Technical Service, a leading Midwest amusement and music operation here, launched its Digital Advertising Media division. The idea behind DAM was simple: sell ads on all of those coin-op screens, including c-top videogames, digital jukeboxes and arcade equipment. SEE STORY
How is that working out for them? Just fine, according to NTS' Joe Wojcik. The program has expanded from its relatively modest launch, and now displays some 1,400 digital ads in more than 400 Omaha metro-area locations on equipment like Bankshot skill games, Big Buck Pro and Golden Tee Live simulators, countertops, jukes, TouchTunes TV and AMI TV.
"We started with a small local ad agency and we still use them, but we also have brought aboard two individuals who work independently, soliciting ads," Wojcik said. "The target market consists of local companies that are small to midsize. And then there are the sporting and concert venues, along with beverages like Budweiser and Bud Light."
It has not been all fun and profit. While the division is in the black, turning a modest profit as of mid-2012, Wojcik reported that the concept has not been an easy sell to local businesses. "It's been a tough, slow process," he explained. "And a lot of that has to do with introducing people to a new form of advertising."
This was to be expected. While local companies understand the concept behind such traditional advertising media as billboards, radio and TV, and newspapers, adding coin-op devices into the promotional mix requires targeting the right companies and making an educational effort. A taxi service, for instance, is a natural match for a drinking establishment, but it will want the opportunity explained in detail.
The ads, Wojcik explained, are downloaded to the games directly from NTS, except for Touchtunes content that runs through that company's network. Local businesses, such as taxi services, security companies and law firms, have been the company's best customers to date. Beer ads, which are sold through the local distributor, are also among NTS' stronger clients. And if local businesses don't have an ad on hand, NTS can prepare one in-house for a nominal fee, a capability that has proven useful to small businesses with limited resources.
With taverns and eateries catering to specific market segments, advertisers can be certain they are reaching their target demographic. The ads, which alternate in rotation during the attract mode, have the potential to reach a customer multiple times during a visit to the establishment. With Touchtunes, an ad will show up several times an hour with a 20-second duration, Wojcik explained. However, on other types of equipment, they generally repeat four or more times an hour. A standard contract for the ads offers a flat rate per location with a minimum of 100 locations. And, of course, all materials are subject to approval prior to acceptance for streaming through the network. This avoids potential conflicts, such as running ads for a competing venue at a location.
In addition to paid advertising, NTS is offering free ads to its locations. This service, which doesn't generate direct revenue, has proven to add value for NTS accounts, allowing them to promote special events or menu offerings.
Although it has been a slow build for NTS, progress has been steady, and the company is sticking with it in the expectation of greater returns down the road. "I know it's outside the box, I know it's not an operator's core business," said Wojcik. "But I do believe it's the future, or at least a piece of it."