Shopping Malls Trump Online As Consumers Crave Engagement


Shopping Malls Trump Online As Consumers Crave Engagement

Shopping Malls Provide Connection and Engagement Opportunities that Online Media Simply Can’t Match

NEW YORK, NY — If you have followed recent reports regarding brick-and-mortar retail, and more specifically, shopping malls, you might have made up your mind already that retail environments are no longer an effective venue for reaching consumers.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

According to Nielsen’s 2014 State of the Shopping Center report, shopping malls are as vital as ever. Consumers still want to visit retail locations because they crave a physical place to congregate, connect, and engage with other people, and shopping centers are fulfilling a large part of that need. Shopping malls are slowly evolving into centralized activity centers according to Nielsen. They have become highly integrated into the social fabric of the communities they serve and have become central gathering places for consumers. That’s great news for mall operators and for mall-based digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising networks.

While it’s true that online and mobile connectivity have changed consumers’ shopping behavior, it has not changed the need for physical connections. Despite all the growth that online shopping has seen in the last few years, online will represent less than 6% of overall package goods sales by 2015.

Nielsen’s study categorizes shopping centers into specific retail experiences that include community centers, lifestyle centers, and traditional shopping centers. Community centers comprised more than 45% of shopping centers and feature neighborhood-serving amenities such as grocery stores and dry cleaners. Lifestyle centers, which include a mix of retail, restaurants, and entertainment options, represented more than 15% of the total shopping center market.

For media buyers and planners looking to extend brand reach beyond traditional and digital online advertising, out-of-home environments such as shopping malls represent one of the strongest retail venues to reach consumers. In fact, several US-based digital mall networks have reach that exceeds broadcast television. Adspace Digital Mall Network, one of the largest mall-based digital out-of-home advertising networks, reaches more than 60% (158 million shoppers each month) of the US population.

A recent article in MediaPost by Bill Ketcham, Chief Marketing Officer at Adspace Digital Mall Networks, highlighted how the Wall Street Journal misinterpreted ShopperTrak data to justify reports on declining mall traffic. “ShopperTrak data refers to retail traffic, not mall traffic, but the damage was done,” wrote Mr. Ketcham. “Because mall traffic and retail traffic are often used interchangeably, malls have been unfairly painted with the decline in retail traffic brush…Now the media planning and buying community worries that mall traffic is softening. I guess they haven’t shopped at any large, enclosed type-A regional malls recently—many of them live in Manhattan—and didn’t notice that they couldn’t get a parking space.”

Shopping Malls Provide Connection and Engagement That Online Shopping Can’t Match

A large part of Adspace’s success is due to the network’s ability to connect advertisers with a highly valuable millennial audience. Over the past year, Adspace has built content partnerships with Conde Nast, BuzzFeed, and NowThis News. According to Adspace, the 18-24 male demographic visits shopping malls more than four times a month, a 45% higher rate than the national average. Conde Nast became Adspace’s first content provider that connects with a young male audience by featuring content from Details magazine.

In addition to Adspace, other US-based digital out-of-home mall network operators include Blue Outdoor, WalkUp Advertising, EYE Malls, and JCDecaux MallScape.

“Malls are not merely places to shop. Today’s malls are destinations where people to go shop, eat and be entertained. Even if your business isn’t in the mall, your customers are. Everyone goes to the mall and our affordable print and digital media cannot be skipped over, DVR’d or missed like traditional media. Digital out-of-home is or will be everywhere people live, work, or gather even in smaller markets,” said Paul H. Bush, Chief Executive Officer of WalkUp Advertising.

Ad-based shopping mall networks are booming in other parts of the world as well. In Australia, oOh! Media, one of Australia’s largest digital out-of-home advertising companies, has recently announced winning an exclusive ad contract to Colonial First State’s newest flagship shopping center, The Emporium Melbourne (pictured above), which also includes Australia’s largest external digital signage screen.

In the Canadian market, Cineplex Digital Media, which already operates networks in cinemas and building concourses recently announced that it will expand its network footprint by adding 10 high-traffic shopping centers to its DOOH portfolio through a new partnership with Oxford Properties Group. Cineplex’s move into mall-based advertising network space places the company in direct competition with established mall network players that include Pattison Outdoor’s Digital Mall Network and Neo Traffic. And across the UK, Canary Wharf Media, Clear Channel Malls, and Limited Space all operate robust ad-based networks.

Free Trend Report: Why Location Is the New Currency of Marketing

Free Trend Report: Why Location Is the New Currency of MarketingFinding effective ways to deliver branded messages in today’s complex media environment is one of the biggest challenges facing advertisers. Traditional methods of advertising have become less effective as consumers spend less time in places where marketers have traditionally had an advantage in reaching them. In addition, consumer attention has fragmented across multiple channels as media options and device platforms increasingly diversify.

Active consumers spend money, and while they are going about their daily routine, they are also actively looking for information. According to Google, more than 50% of all mobile searches have local intent, and 17% of search happens while consumers are on the go.

Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) advertising, also known as Digital Place-based (DPb) media, utilizes strategically placed, networked digital signage displays to reach on-the-go consumers while they are outside of their home with highly targeted messages. Location-based mobile and digital out-of-home media are part of a larger multiscreen ecosystem that effectively amplifies brand messages to create a deeper level of engagement with active consumers.

Why Location Is the New Currency of Marketing is aimed at CMOs, media buyers and strategists and provides insight into why marketers are increasingly shifting their advertising dollars to these rapidly emerging media platforms.

Highlights from Why Location Is the New Currency of Marketing include:

  • The Connected Consumer
  • Leveraging the Moment
  • Multiscreen Campaign Planning
  • Amplifying Reach With DOOH Media

Download your free copy here


  1. Maggie Allen March 29, 2016 Reply

    Very interesting read! I think it is really great that shopping malls are still popular option— to me, it means that people prefer people to computers, like you said. There’s something to be said about that statistic, too. No matter how convenient technology and online shopping can be, people are still social creatures by nature. In my opinion, people are going to continue choosing malls for a long time because of this very trait.

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