While consumers have grown accustomed to the convenience and anytime access of ATM banking, the sentiment against ATM access surcharges hasbeen steadily gathering steam.
In November 1999, for example, voters passed legislation in San Francisco and Santa Monica making it illegal for banks to charge non-customers to use their ATMs. Several other municipalities followed suit.
Although financial institutions subsequently successfully challenged the legality of this legislation, the brouhaha has many banks and credit unions nationwide looking for creative ways to ultimately eliminate surcharges and offset maintenance costs.
One potent alternative to surcharging is ATM advertising. There are many options for ATM advertising, and many ATMs today come fully equipped with an integrated advertising package that reinforces the message in a variety of different ways. A package can include decals and signage for the ATM exterior, dispensers for take-away coupons, transaction screen advertising and separate full-motion video advertising screens. These options can be used in any combination for maximum effectiveness.
Videos and Coupons
Full-motion video advertising, in particular, is an exceptionally powerful means of reaching consumers and informing them about everything from mortgage and CD rates to upcoming movies. How significant is the ability to influence consumers at the point of cash withdrawal? One ATM deployer discovered that 49% of the people waiting in line for a movie had been to a cash machine in the previous two hours. About half of those had gone to the ATM undecided about which movie they would see.
ATM couponing is similarly powerful. For instance, half.com, a Web site that allows users to buy and sell previously owned books, music, movies and games, expected a 4% conversion rate when it rolled out a coupon offering free shipping at 700 ATMs in seven states. The actual conversion rate, which indicates the number of people who bought or sold items after hitting the site through the coupon offer, was more than 20%, the highest conversion rate of any promotion currently running for the company, according to ATMmagazine.com. The site used a unique URL and bar-coded coupons to track user response. KeyBank owned all 700 machines, located in ARCO AM/PM convenience stores.
As more advertisers discover the effectiveness of ATM advertising, many of them want increased access to ATMs as an advertising platform. American Express and 7-Eleven, for example, announced an alliance in early 2000 to outfit 200 7-Eleven stores in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with financial services kiosks, including video-enabled ATMs. It's part of a pilot program aimed at offering a range of financial and commercial applications.
Help From Above
With the popularity of television and the Web, one of the most compelling new advertising options is heads-up advertising. The ATM delivers ads on an Internet-enabled, 15-inch-high screen mounted at eye level above the ATM on what's called a "high topper" or a "heads-up" unit. Because the high topper is separate from the transaction screen, ads are not interrupted while consumers conduct their financial transactions. Ads are also visible and audible to both the ATM user and passersby, maximizing advertising reach and impact.
The screen on the high topper also can be split up much like the real estate on a Web portal like Yahoo! with full-motion video on one portion of the screen and smaller windows displaying still-screen ads and running news and an animated bank logo to reinforce branding.
In addition to heads-up advertising, many ATMs will soon be equipped to offer enhanced couponing. Self-tracking bar-coded coupons let the advertiser know where and when the coupons are redeemed. This option lets marketers gauge the effectiveness of their programs, adding value by letting them know if they have wisely spent their marketing dollars.
Deploying ads need not be a costly or resource-intensive endeavor for the bank. Ads on the ATM can be updated using a CD-ROM or downloaded to the ATM using a telephone line. Several ATM models also offer Internet connectivity, making ad updates even easier. Ads can be changed at a moment's notice, offering the potential for highly targeted communications.
Advertising programs are relatively easy to run and manage either internally within the bank or using third-party marketing firms. Several marketing companies such as Secora Corp., Rbuzz and ATMpact provide customized advertising programs including media creation, campaign development and on- and off-premise ATM support.
While ATM advertising has been somewhat slow to take off, many in the ATM and financial services industries believe its time has come. With the potential to reduce or even eliminate surcharging, all of the parties involved in the advertising equation are weighing the benefits of ATM advertising. ATM deployers get a new revenue stream; advertisers and retailers increase revenue and sales; and ATM users receive value-added services and, in many cases, discounts on products they need.
ATM advertising technologies have matured to the point that they are reliable and easy to manage. Several marketing companies also are poised to help banks take advantage of this powerful new advertising platform. All that's left is for banks to seize the opportunity.
About The Author: Mark Smith is sales manager for Triton, a leading provider of cash-dispensing ATMs and ATM management software in the U.S. He can be reached at www.tritonatm.com or call 800-367-7191.