Top Media & Marketing Innovations of 2008:
"Sponsor in Aisle Five!
Shopper marketing may never be the same. Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. retailer, this year led the way with the rollout of its in-store digital network, the Wal-Mart Smart Network. Powered by Internet Protocol Television, content, ads and merchandising can be monitored and controlled down to a single screen. Even as scores of video networks pop up, this represents a new paradigm, offering a level of precision targeting never before seen. Instead of relying on shelf-talkers and end-of-aisle displays to promote products, the Wal-Mart net creates a dynamic, interactive dialogue between marketer and consumer. (While utilizing the latest technology, the network also is a real throwback in terms of customer service, taking shoppers back to a time when the store clerk knew every item and could help the customer make informed decisions on the spot.) Operated by Premier Retail Networks, the network is the result of two years and $10 million in research aimed at the optimal content and placement of screens for engaging consumers at the point-of-purchase. Up and running in 300 stores in time for the holiday season, Wal-Mart anticipates chain-wide deployment (2,700 U.S. outposts) by early 2010. -Katy Bachman"