Influencer Marketing

The Rise of Influencer Marketing at Point of Sale

Yahav Ran—multi-display expert and co-founder of The Hive—shares how traditional stores are starting to look more like trade shows, and why businesses need to master their new channel in this space.

In the last few years, we’ve witnessed a growing trend in customer experience in the brick and mortar world—part of the same trend in advertising known as influencer marketing, which focuses more on “who we are” than “what we sell.” This approach attempts to draw the attention of key people and companies—the influencers—who will then potentially market their product forward to followers. (Don’t miss this great related TED talk from Seth Godin.)

As companies focus more attention and resources on how customers experience their brand in this “last mile,” they’re also investing heavily in making that experience reflect who they are. Point of sale is becoming more than just that place you go to shop, it’s also now a place you go to experience the brand—a brand you might relate to or want to be associated with. In a way, retail is getting closer to the “trade show” experience than the classic shopping experience we’re used to seeing.

The challenge for businesses in this new, unfamiliar “experience” channel is knowledge. The standard channels of communication and advertising—such as print, radio, TV, and Internet—have an entire ecosystem built around them, and knowledge is available. Businesses know how to use them, hire professionals to do it for them, and pay consultants to advise them on where and how to invest in advertising.

The creative infrastructure of agencies and studios is built around these traditional mediums, with the only exception being trade shows—which are mostly considered one-off projects, with typically a lot of money and effort for a short period of time and no long-lasting capacity or sustainability.

Given all of this, it’s very difficult to find someone that can build, support, and refresh a brand experience in retail over a long period of time. You need a web site? Fancy a new TV commercial? Maybe a new big billboard poster? Not a problem.

But if you need a five-screen synchronized video that will exist in a single store location in Idaho, you might struggle to find someone to do the job—and you’ll probably pay much more than you’re used to. And if you open another store in Washington, but with six screens and one is slightly bigger than the others, your studio will make you pay for new work. Now what happens if you have 20 stores? Or 50? And what do you do when you need to update this on a monthly basis?

The current creative industry just isn’t used to dealing with this kind of diversified content format, or keep it in mind during the design process.

So why is all of this so difficult? Two words: channel ownership.

In traditional mediums, the business does not own the channel, they “buy” a spot on an existing one—so they don’t need to maintain and operate the channel. For example, you don’t need to have your own TV channel to broadcast a commercial in primetime, you don’t need to take care of all the logistics, invest in technology, maintain and buy content, get talent, etc. You simply pay the price for a time slot, and provide a commercial video.

This is simply not the case when you try to load a video in, let’s say, the new video wall you just installed in your store. Now, the business has created its own standalone channel, with all the responsibility that entails—from creating the content to deploying it in the store (at the right place at the right time) and making sure it is running.

Many systems have been built around these issues, to try to simplify that management work, but this channel ownership is just not the core competency of the business. Usually, these tools only provide a partial solution, mostly technical, and neglect the creative aspects that need to be solved—so the business must then turn to the normal creative channels, such as agencies and studios, who are not familiar enough with the medium to provide a sustainable, cost-effective solution.

Bottom line, most businesses are not built to manage a channel, and the people that businesses tend to ask to solve these problems (traditional agencies and studios) don’t have a complete solution—and that leaves businesses to close the gaps, some of which they are not even necessarily aware.

All of this is a relatively new problem—but it’s one that we’re solving at The Hive, with a much-needed solution on this new frontier in the advertising ecosystem.

The “big idea” behind The Hive is that we are masters of these new standalone channels. We know how to efficiently create proprietary and diversified content, and support nonstandard formats across multiple installations. We know how to maintain, operate, and support those platforms, by relying on multidisciplinary professionals and tools.

Our “secret sauce,” in short, is simply focus. Under one roof, we hold the knowledge on how to build a channel, we have the professionals that can do it, and we enable our clients to own their channels without disturbing their core business.