A New Way to Drill Messages Into Consumers' Heads

Media Morph: InChairTV

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: InChairTV.

WHAT IT IS: Video eyewear looks really goofy, but a company called MedPed Media is hoping that there's one place people won't be embarrassed to strap on a pair of really thick black glasses: the dentist's chair. The eyewear, from a manufacturer called Vuzix, contains a tiny screen that plays DVD videos. The company says the screen, because of its proximity to the eyes, looks like a virtual 44-inch screen. MedPed Media is marketing the product to dentists as InChairTV, an ad-supported entertainment network that plays TV content licensed from ABC/Disney as well as patient-education videos, interspersed with ads.

HOW IT WORKS: The system begs the question: Are consumers in the dentist's chair good targets for advertising? On one hand, they're captive. On the other hand, they're either uncomfortable or a bit drugged up. An early survey from Nielsen Media Research found that people using the service had 60% unaided ad recall and were 45% more likely to purchase a service; 87% said they'd tell friends and family about InChairTV. (Of course, it's worth noting that InChairTV commissioned the survey and its goal is, of course, to sell more units and the ads that run on them.)

THE COST/REACH FACTOR: If you think advertising is substantially reducing the cost of the system, think again. InChairTV is expensive, running a dentist almost $500 for each individual set -- a price tag that could limit its reach. The company said it is in about 400 offices right now but a price drop in the future should expand its reach. To be sure, that reach is small: those 400 offices see an average of 86 patients a week, or about 1,000 a quarter. Of those, about 35% use the eyewear, which means the audience runs about 140,000 people a quarter.
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