ATMs Hatch Plans to Bombard Their Captive Audiences with Ads

Article excerpt

Coming to an automatic teller machine near you sometime next year: advertising.

Several companies are working on placing both full-motion and still-frame advertising on automatic teller machines while you're waiting for your money to spit out.

One company, ATM Communications Inc. in Long Beach, Calif., is conducting tests with still-frame advertisements in Atlanta. BellSouth, Fountain Head Water and 1-800 Flowers have already signed up to appear on the ATMs.

While advertising on ATMs is still in a development phase, the concept has many in the industry wondering why it hasn't happened sooner. The average ATM conducts 7,600 transactions a month, according to ATM Communications, and the advertisements feast upon a captive audience that beats national averages for annual income and education levels.

"People are getting impressions and making decisions with money in their hand," said Gary Osterberg, president of ATM Communications. "It's a branding vehicle plus a call to action."

The company intends to expand the ATM advertising south into Florida this winter and back up the East Coast next year.

The new form of advertising is already winning over sponsors, with retailers, restaurants and entertainment purveyors standing to benefit best.

"We've been pleased, but it's too soon to tell," if the company will take on the medium full time, said Molly Ingram, director of promotion for 1-800 Flowers. "There are sorts of places where consumers are paying attention - we're finding more all the time. This looks like a natural. It's kind of like the old bus stop."

Electronic Data Systems, a large Plano, Texas, owner and operator of ATMs, is also in a testing phase, and already has full-motion advertising from Fox Searchlight Pictures and Nissan in ATMs in San Diego 7-11 stores.

"This will revolutionize the business model for owning an ATM," said Dale Dentlinger, director of product management for EDS's customer network services.

EDS' immediate expansion plans include New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. While no entry date for Washington is set, the company was in town two weeks ago talking to representatives from Giant Food.


The District-based Communication Workers of America and The Washington Post Co. have been at an impasse for months on benefits for the paper's mailers and sorters. Taking a page from the celebrity-impersonating Jerry's Subs and Pizza, the CWA has enlisted a John McLaughlin sound-alike for its latest round of anti-Post radio ads.

The radio ads, running on WTOP-AM, WMAL-AM, WGMS-FM, and other stations, feature a "McLaughlin Group"-style roundtable discussion, ending with the McLaughlin sound-alike goading his panel to say "The Post just doesn't get it," a take on the Post's well-known tagline. …