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BELTED BY AD MESSAGES KROGER STORES REACH CUSTOMERS WAITING IN CHECKOUT LINE

By Published on .

When shoppers go Krogering in North Little Rock, Ark., this week, they will see ads in a brand new place: conveyor belts at the checkout line.

Two Kroger grocery stores are the first to try conveyor-belt advertising, and up to 100 more in Kroger Co.'s Delta region may also rely on the new ad medium to spice up the 3 to 9 minutes customers spend paying for their groceries.

The concept was created by Service Media, a North Little Rock in-store advertising company that has a patent pending on the conveyor-belt printing process. The company also signs up advertisers and installs the ads.

"Conveyor belts are the most visionary tool at the checkout that had not been used in in-store advertising," said Mark Witcher, Service Media VP. "One ad comes up every 10 seconds. The customer can see one ad six times per minute-just pennies per impression."

Ads, nine of which are on each belt, are 10 by 11 inches and can use a two-color process. The advertiser gets space on each belt at a store's location for $200 a month or $450 for three months. Stores typically have between nine and 14 checkouts.

So far, local advertisers have gravitated to the conveyor belt as ad medium as a cost-effective way to get across a quick awareness message. First Commercial Bank says, "Bank where you shop," in its ad. Mailboxes Etc is also an advertiser; the local offices of Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Southwestern Bell Telephone have signed on, too.

Mr. Witcher said customers have little trouble seeing the full ad, though he admitted a large grocery purchase would cover the ad for a bit of time.

"These ads make the checkstand look clean-it's not just a boring black conveyor belt," he added.

Based on an earlier test and reaction last week, shoppers appear to like the idea of conveyor-belt advertising, said Jim Royal, manager of one of the North Little Rock stores.

"It's an outstanding concept because it's available for customers to see over and over again," Mr. Royal noted. "It's right in front of them. Most customers stand on one foot and then the other and wait for the groceries to get checked.

"All the brokers and manufacturers like it, too. I haven't had one negative comment from customers. Just in this store, advertisers are reaching 25,000 people a week. Multiply that by 100 for the other stores in this region. I think the idea is great."

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