The RePromotion Digital Media Network designed by the UK's IQ Group was installed in a number of Spar back in September, and the initial results have been encouraging, according to Spar's advertising and promotions manager, Simon Fisher. Speaking at a retail conference last week, Fisher explained that Spar had instigated the trial of the new advertising medium to see what effect it had on promotions, and to assess whether it could lead to an increase in the average spend per customer. The RePromotion system is based around an online network of screens strategically located in retail aisles and shelves. What the screens show is controlled through a central management system which can operate at a regional, store, aisle, category or individual screen level. Individual screens can even display different messages simultaneously. The pilot scheme involves a cross-section of the Spar estate. "We identified a range of stores of different formats and in different types of locations. The trial also involved varying sizes of screens to establish the most effective combination for each environment," Fisher said. Six stores around the country were selected to take part in the trial, and the list of brands promoted included some of the biggest names in the food and beverage industry: Smirnoff vodka, Smirnoff Ice, Baileys, Guinness, Kronenbourg, Beck's, John Smith's, Foster's, Birds Eye Frozen and Weetabix. Spar also ran its own promotional messages on the network. According to IQ Group's David Williams, the content of the screens is designed to enhance Spar's brand values and complement the relevant point of purchase (PoP). "The screens show both general category messages and specific advertisements, all in short sharp clips. These are updated every three weeks to correspond with Spar's promotional periods. Messages vary according to screen location and time of day," he said. The trial was sponsored by industry body Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI), and the organisation's head of research Guy Vaughan said that the results showed that digital media networks had a bright future in store. General brand messages on screen achieved average weighted sales increases of 10 per cent, he said, while price promotions showed an average weighted increase of 24-25 per cent for Spar's Real Deals. Of even greater interest, he said, was the fact that advertised items sustained an average 15 per cent weighted sales increase during the post-promotional period. The most spectacular results came from the spread brand I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, which reported weighted increases of 44 per cent during its Real Deal BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) promotion and 18 per cent thereafter. But other brands achieved excellent weighted increases too - two three-week multi-buy promotions on Kronenbourg 1664 beer resulted in a 25 per cent uplift for the brand over the period, while generic brand messages for Weetabix Biscuits and Mini Crunch were accompanied by uplifts of 8 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. Guinness draught stout was promoted on screens throughout the whole nine weeks, with a multi-buy promotion in the final three weeks and a price promotion on Guinness Original in the first three weeks. The results speak for themselves - a 28 per cent weighted increase for Guinness over the nine weeks, with a 4 per cent increase for the category as a whole. General promotion of the Bird's Eye frozen food brand during weeks seven to nine resulted in a 14 per cent weighted increase during those weeks for the brand and 3 per cent for the category over the whole period. "This research demonstrates the power of digital media networks to build brands and drive sales, when the content is right and screens are appropriately sized and positioned," said Williams. The results have certainly opened a few eyes, with all of the participating brands pledging to further evaluate the digital medium as a means of increasing awareness and sales. Williams said that IQ was now talking with other brands eager to participate in the next phase of the trial. "We are discussing a wider rollout with Spar and expect to be able to make further announcements soon," he said.