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Shoppers can check out KTLA at supermarket

Dec 17, 2001  •  Post A Comment

It’s literally a wait-and-see situation for KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.
The Tribune-owned WB affiliate has struck an exclusive partnership deal with Impli, a San Francisco Bay area-based new media company that has placed television monitors in each checkout aisle of 55 L.A.-area Ralphs supermarkets.
Beginning Jan. 1, KTLA promos and programming will be seen on the small, flat-panel monitors, which Impli began installing in the Ralphs stores in November 2000 when it made L.A. its first market. While the details are still being worked out, that means in addition to watching advertisements and Impli’s own 30-second cooking and fitness tips and fashion segments, store patrons waiting in the checkout line will see promos for KTLA shows and perhaps even 30-second KTLA news breaks.
The service previously offered promos from a variety of networks and stations, including one for Fox’s “Temptation Island II,” along with KNBC-TV’s newscasts. Impli had a soft launch, starting with four stores and adding a fifth in the spring. A major expansion came in September and October.
By Jan. 15, Impli will be in 100 Ralphs stores reaching 10 percent of the Los Angeles market. According to Impli CEO Doug Rowan, an average of 100,000 people go through a Ralphs store per month, and each one waits an average of five minutes in line. “The founders of Impli thought we could entertain and advertise to people, improve their feeling about waiting and at the same time generate business for advertisers,” Mr. Rowan said. Hayward, Calif.-based Mervyn’s retail store was one of the first advertisers to sign up with Impli, and its current Christmas campaign featuring David Cassidy is now airing at the participating Ralphs stores.
“It’s great to take advantage of these evolving technologies, and we’re excited about it,” KTLA General Manager John Reardon said. “It’s a server technology, so we can feed information to them via the Internet to their file server. That creates all sorts of opportunities for all of us. The technology is seamless.”
KTLA will have a joint sales agreement whereby the station will help sell ads for Impli and get revenue as well as additional promotional time from Impli. In addition, KTLA will work with Impli’s programming department to help produce content.
“There was one previous major kind of effort in supermarkets. It was done by Turner Shopping Channel five to eight years ago at least,” Mr. Rowan said. “It was television screens, and they weren’t personalized to each lane, which makes a big difference in our case. They also had a big problem with audio. The audio drove the checkers crazy because it was very noisy to have a TV going all the time.”
Impli came up with an audio solution called “electronically focused sound” that directs the audio toward the shopper so that checkers won’t hear it.
Impli plans to launch in other cities next year, with the goal of reaching the top 25 TV markets and achieving a minimum reach of 10 percent in each market.