Take any industry vertical and you’re bound to find that place-based media is growing in popularity among marketing savvy businesses. That said, some market segments are ahead of the curve and they can help us to understand why place-based media is growing so dramatically as a strategic weapon in the battle for brand supremacy.

In a classic study Katy Bachman of Adweek showed how the in-store digital media networks of Walgreens (30 million), Safeway (44 million) and Kroger (68 million) have amassed bigger weekly audiences than the number one hit television show, American Idol, which in 2008 had only 21 million weekly viewers! Looking at these numbers alone it becomes obvious that place-based media can have tremendous reach. Add to this the proximity of an in-store digital network to a cash register and the sales & marketing power of these kinds of networks becomes even clearer. In many ways this is the life source and currency of place-based media and the motive behind a land grab that is going on among retail networks, network operators, and brands to own and control – to be the gatekeepers of – in-store media. Boosted by networking technology that gives brands a direct means of engaging with customers the retail environment becomes a virtual marketplace, or as Terry O’Reilly says, a battleground for influence.

Indeed, place-based media is already huge among large retailers throughout North America. But this is still the early days of this medium. Place-based media is moving from its roots in big retail and public transportation to the mainstream. Soon you will see this kind of technology being used by retailers of any size. Soon you will see it used more prevalently by food & beverage chains, by hospitality businesses, by healthcare networks and by recreational facilities. In many cases the key business drivers are the same. There is power in engaging people where and when it counts. There is value in owning and controlling the messaging inside the places we shop, eat, work and play. Place-based media taps into and exploits this value and offers it to anyone with a promotional message.

We at ScreenScape envision a day where all these places are networked – where savvy marketers can tap into the power of place-based media across thousands of locations. Like any land grab those that have first mover advantage will be in the best position to take advantage of this new marketing landscape.