The study -- conducted last summer in New York, Seattle and Columbus, Ohio -- focused on patrons who spent more than one hour in a bar and interacted with the Ecast platform, which consists of banner ads that accompany music selections.
Considering many bargoers can't even remember what they drank the previous night, the fact that they remember ads might seem impressive. But that's not the only thing that intrigued Diane Williams, Arbitron's product manager for custom research.
"What surprised us was the number of people who use jukeboxes themselves or watch someone like a friend using one," Ms. Williams said. "They interact with it like they would ads on the internet."
The San Francisco-based company has worked with marketers such as Jeep, Absolut and Heineken on exclusive campaigns targeted to the under-34 male demo over the years, with Miller High Life the latest to partner with the company for an exclusive out-of-home campaign.
Barhoppers will soon be bombarded with even more ads. New York-based Zoom Media and Marketing plans to expand its network of digital billboards to 24 venues at the end of the month and to more than 50 by October.
Bars and nightclubs are among the top venues out-of-home marketers consider "captive environments." Zoom President Dennis Roche said the key to reaching the elusive 21-to-34 male demo, especially in social settings, is keeping them entertained.
Zoom's ad server will allow clients to update their ads based on daypart and demo -- so a marketer such as McDonald's could change a lunch ad to one pushing dinner items around 5 p.m. "We're able to take advertising that's static and make it our own," Mr. Roche said. "[Young men] are around the billboards for long periods of time, so one thing an advertiser should ask is, 'Is somebody going to look at it?' If someone's sitting for an hour-plus, odds are the ad that's rotating out there is going to get seen."
The interactive component of a platform like Ecast's also means more potential for detailed demographic research. Kevin Oglesby, Miller High Life's senior brand manager, said, "If we get something we can measurably look at and say, 'This is truly moving our consumers to our brand,' along with the rest of the media mix, we're always open to repeating a program either of this nature or going a step further to the edge."
If anything, out-of-home buyers such as Starcom's Katie Ford would like to see more options in the bar space. "It's an untapped market," said Ms. Ford, senior VP-group director for Starcom USA. "But we're making some great headway in that direction. Miller does a lot overall in bars ... so the whole premise was taking High Life away from the pomp and circumstance and pretense."
'A consumer that's engaged'
With out-of-home metrics less organized than those for TV or radio, platforms such as Ecast are hard for Ms. Ford to come by. "There's not many equivalent contexts which show that interaction. You actually have a consumer that's engaged and wants to interact with [the creative]," she said.
Zoom's Mr. Roche said the most common requests from his clients in the bar and nightclub space are video capabilities and file formats standard with other forms of media. "We want to make it about the audience and ways in which you can use billboards to present your creative [without] making it difficult for clients to actually adopt it," he said.