Marshall McLuhan popularized the saying that “the medium is the message.” Whether you call it “in-store” or “in-retail,” retail advertising is big … even during a pandemic.

“Retail advertising opportunities have continued to grow, and we believe there will be continued momentum in this space,” said Alison Baker, Retail Experience Manager, Hoosier Lottery.

“Several brands included in the consumer product goods (CPG) category have been growing their in-store advertising spend YoY. For in-store screens within convenience stores, the base of advertisers has increased in the past year. Despite challenges and travel restrictions due to COVID-19, the gas station TV category also saw an increase in 2020,” noted Tara Willette, Account Supervisor, PPK (Florida Lottery’s advertising agency).

The world of advertising is not bifurcated; it is multi-furcated into ecosystems (media, retail, social, and outdoors). Lottery ads and marketing communication must reach consumers anywhere, at any time—TV, radio, newspapers, social channels plus mobile phones, tablets, desktops and yes in-store screens, pump media and digital walls.

Retailing advertising can prompt purchase. “In-store media acts as a reminder message and allows advertisers to engage their consumers when they are in the purchasing mindset,”said PPK’s Willette. “The goal is to trigger impulse purchases of consumer products and ultimately drive sales. The Florida Lottery is fortunate to partner with retailers who are willing to promote our products via Point of Sale (POS), mostly at no cost. However, some of our chain partners have more limited ‘no cost’ POS opportunities, and this is where we focus our efforts for paid in-store media.”

Multiple U.S. lotteries are now buying advertising on in-store screens, including Arizona Lottery, Florida Lottery, Hoosier Lottery and Ohio Lottery.

“In-retail advertising helps us fully connect with players across their entire retail shopping journey, considering all touchpoints beyond traditional point of sale,” explained Alison Baker, Retail Experience Manager, Hoosier Lottery. “Our buys consider audio, shopper marketing, outdoor and digital media placement opportunities to help build a fully integrated product and promotional approach, and allows us to go deeper with messaging and education.”

Increasingly, more North American lotteries are expected to adopt the new “store as media” concept:

“I believe in-store digital screens represent a new ‘store as media’ concept that an increasing number of retailers and their brand suppliers are finding a powerful complement to their media mix, especially as more traditional forms of media erode because of emerging evasion technologies and subscription plans that allow viewers to ‘skip’ commercials. I also believe consumers are more open than ever to embracing video messages at the point of sale, especially when they’re informative and presented in an impactful way, based on our 13-year partnership with Walmart managing their in-store digital media network,” said Leslyn Broughton, Director of Business Development, Tilt Creative + Production.

Marketers’ Advice

Several U.S. lotteries that have tested in-store screens and audio offered advice to fellow marketers who are considering a media buy.

Demand a prime location. “Make sure you understand where the digital signage is located in the retail environment and try to align with complimentary products,” said Chris Rogers, Deputy Director, Products & Marketing, Arizona Lottery. “For example, in Arizona we know that Scratchers players have a very high affinity for soft drinks at C-store. In grocery stores, we know last minute holiday shoppers are an opportunity so we place floor clings and grocery cart advertising during that time. While not a digital medium, they are effective awareness drivers.”

Call to action. “It’s recommended to create an impactful call to action message within the in-store screen creative, to encourage the impulse conversion upon consumers,” said Amber Seale, Chief of Brand Management, Florida Lottery. “With in-store PoP Screens, advertisers are able to reach the audience when they’re in the purchasing mindset: in-store and at the register to drive last-minute purchases to increase sales. PPK recommended in-store screens for increased ad-recall and sales with premium visibility in an already high impulse environment. PPK’s In-Store PoP strategy is to have consistent and adequate coverage across all markets in the state, in order to have a strong reach.

Test results. “Get a good sense of how many impressions the average customer will see per visit— is your message rotating with other messages and, if so, what view time is allotted? Finally, be sure to experiment with emerging media and measure your results,” added Rogers.

Leverage partnerships. “Consider these opportunities as a larger initiative to help grow business and partnership opportunities, idenfiying ways to leverage incremental merchandising and promotional partnerships. This should be one piece of an overarching strategy,” said Tracy Butler, Director of Corporate Accounts, Hoosier Lottery.

Florida Lottery Program

Last year, the Florida Lottery’s holiday campaign media buy included in-store POP screens and audio.

Holiday scratch off tickets were featured in an animated presentation featured on screens located at checkout next to registers and ATMs inside Circle K and 7-Eleven stores statewide and played 12-second video spots (no audio) to promote purchases.

The Florida Lottery’s in-store audio featured the Holiday Scratch-Offs with Santa’s voice and aired over a network that ran 15-second spots inside Speedway Stores (15-minute intervals) in the Miami and West Palm Beach markets.

The test of in-retail advertising was a success. “In-store is deemed successful in combination with GSTV, delivering a positive ROI ($8.80). GSTV and in-store ROI deliver the second highest ROI across all advertised mediums. Unfortunately, we don’t have hard numbers to specify success measures with the Holiday campaign specifically, as the ROI is not measured by campaign,” said Seale.

“Furthermore, when comparing Circle K Holiday ticket sales during the period of in-store/audio advertising (11/4/19-1/12/20), the Florida Lottery saw a +5.17% lift in sales for stores with in-store/audio advertising compared to stores without in-store/audio advertising,” added Seale.

The Florida Lottery In-Store ROI is measured with several different components by a third-party vendor. “Components within the measurement include: Total Sales, Delivered Impressions, and Media costs analyzed on a fiscal year basis. The ROI of $8.80 (from the Florida Lottery FY20 Marketing Mix Model Study, dating 2018 – 2019) attributed to in-store is both a combination of GSTV, in-store Screens and in-store audio,” explained Seale.

The Florida Lottery is making some changes to its holiday marketing program in fiscal 2021. “For in-store specifically, we have added overlays to the GSTV spot to promote Holiday Bonus Play,” said Seale. “We will also have a quick quiz that runs after the Holiday GSTV spot with fun questions about the Holiday Scratch-off games. The overlays and quizzes provide an engaging experience for our players.”

The Florida Lottery is advertising on in-store screens within convenience stores as part of its annual plan. It will support each major product in fiscal 2021.
“PPK recommended removing in-store audio from the media plan in an effort to purchase additional OOH opportunities that are more visual and impactful to consumers (i.e. additional in-store screens and video motion walls within c-stores),” said Seale.

Hoosier Lottery Program

The Hoosier Lottery believes in-retail advertising is an emerging partnership opportunity. “We work with our media agency and directly with our Key Accounts to bring the holistic promotional approach to life. We will continue these efforts and expect expansion as more of our chains incorporate this into their store experience,” said Baker.

Hoosier Lottery began utilizing digital walls/boards at Circle K beginning in February 2017. “We pioneered the growth of the Circle K video walls with 33 Degrees in Indiana and were even able to define the geography for the larger rollout in Indianapolis,” said Baker.

Hoosier Lottery’s in-store screen efforts have been focused on Scratch-offs. The tests were deemed a success. “In one of our early tests digital board locations were up over 13% year over year in Validation Based Sales and up nearly 12% in total sales,” said Butler.

The lottery’s fiscal 2021 advertising budget included in-retail advertising. “Our current plans extend through June 2021 and will continue to include the use of in-store video to support Scratch-off promotions. We will continue to build on our efforts based on results and opportunities,” said Baker.

Hoosier Lottery has also partnered with other retail chains over the last 10 years to include in-store advertising at Speedway (on-counter screen), Family Express (on-counter screen and exterior billboard), Thorntons (on-counter screen), Phil’s One Stop (exterior billboard), Low Bob’s (on-counter screen), Big Red Liquors (digital boards and on-counter screen), Belmont Liquor (exterior billboard) and Sav-A Step (digital boards),” explained Baker.

Ohio Lottery’s In-Retail Program

The Ohio Lottery buys in-store media to promote lottery products year-round.

“The goals of our in-retail media program are as much about seeking out and providing opportunities to minority-owned business (MBE) partners as they are about generating additional sales using geo-targeted messaging at retail,” said Tom Ackerman, Assistant Director, Office of Marketing, Ohio Lottery.

“We leverage dynamic, visual and audio placements to create additional exposure for our Scratch-Offs category and Jackpot Games category. And use them to appeal to our spontaneous players at the point-of-purchase. Those partnerships have included Circle K, Speedway, Kroger, and All Over Media in recent years. We also use this program to provide small, MBE media companies opportunities to manage a part of our business. Those experiences and additional billings may help them qualify for other business opportunities. Our players and our vendors are both customers so investing 3%-5% of our annual media budget in these properties make sense for us and we’re proud of this program,” added Ackerman.

Other In-Retail Lottery Programs

Arizona Lottery purchases digital ad boards and walk up screens.

“We are stepping up our in-store marketing presence for our holiday campaign with: grocery TV, in-store audio, gas pump merchandising and poster, 33 Degrees (Circle K’s animated TV screens), shopping carts, shelf talkers and floor clings,” said Rogers.

The Kansas Lottery is working with Dillons stores, a Midwestern grocery store chain. There are currently a total of 109 retailers.

“We worked with Dillons stores to create custom in-store overhead messaging that targeted both our instant scratch tickets and the Holiday Millionaire Raffle,” said Judy Bradley, Instant Product Development Manager, Kansas Lottery. “These are overhead audio announcements that run periodically throughout the day on their overhead PA systems.”

The Virginia Lottery does not currently advertise on in-store screens. But it does buy advertising for pump media. “We are big fans of the GSTV program and have been working with them for years,” said Terri Rose, Director of Marketing, Virginia Lottery. “We run a year-round schedule for both scratch and draw game retail products. We also use it to promote our Play Responsibly initiatives throughout the year with a specific focus in March.”

In-Retail Ads: Pros & Cons

Proponents for paid in-retail advertising see it as part of an overarching strategy to help growth business and partnership opportunities.

“The Hoosier Lottery has been focused on continuing to build our promotional footprint and retailer partnerships, and we will continue to explore retail advertising opportunities as they become available. Leveraging this advertising has been part of a larger omnichannel initiative. It is one of the many components of a fully integrated promotional footprint focused on uniting the customer experience from brick and mortar to mobile browsing and everything in between,” said Baker.

But other U.S. lotteries choose not to buy in-retail ads. For instance, the Texas Lottery has been approached a couple of times either directly by a retailer or by an agency representing that retailer wanting the agency to purchase advertising on their in-store, electronic media.

“Investing in these types of advertising programs is tricky for the Texas Lottery,” said Ryan Mindell, Lottery Operations Director, Texas Lottery. “The Texas Lottery is a state agency and we are licensing businesses as retailers. Within reason, we want to treat our licensees equally and fairly. Putting a substantial financial investment into one retailer’s in-store media that would potentially increase sales for that one retailer while excluding others puts our agency in a difficult position.”

Mindell also said the lottery has a high penetration of its own in-store ESMM screens: “We manage that show carefully and change it frequently to keep it fresh and informative for our players. It is a powerful tool for us that communicates key product information including current jackpot amounts.”