In the lobby of the ABC television networks studios in New York City, an automated teller machine connected to the Internet plays clips from the movie The Grinch and spits out a receipt offering a discount on refreshments at a nearby theater where the movie is playing.
Mark K. Levenick, president and chief executive officer of Tidel Technologies Inc., was demonstrating the machine, one of his companys Chameleon models, last week at a press event to promote the marriage of ATMs and advertising. ATMs historically have been a point of cash; now theyre becoming multimedia kiosks, he said.
As banks and other ATM deployers search for ways to squeeze more revenue out of their cash machines, more companies are working to turn ATMs into high-tech advertising and marketing tools. Tidel, a maker of ATMs and cash dispensers, is working with several companies that broker deals between advertising companies and ATM owners, and so are some of the other ATM makers.
Andrew Orent, vice president of the self-service division in NCR Corp.s Americas region, said his company has had some early discussions with various third-party companies that are trying for a piece of this business. These include Ten Square Corp. of San Jose, Calif.; Secora Corp., a St. Louis company; Rbuzz Inc. of Toronto; and BroadVision Inc. of Redwood City, Calif.
Theres a tremendous thirst for new-revenue technology for ATMs, Mr. Orent said. But the jury is still out for their effectiveness and the business case.
Mr. Orent said numerous pilot programs throughout the country are testing Web-enabled ATMs and advertising tie-ins. NCR has about 70 Web-enabled ATMs working right now, but the infrastructure behind the technology will take a while longer to install, and some larger companies will not get involved, he said, until they can advertise nationally.
You might get small, local companies to advertise, but youre not going to get the big guys until you have a very big footprint, Mr. Orent said. And you need the technology infrastructure to support that big footprint.
The key to the advertising campaigns is to present the message during idle time between transactions, or while transactions are being processed. Advertising takes advantage of the down time so as not to delay a customer and create a long line.
Though the content is piped in from a remote site, it can be specific to the merchant who hosts the machine so that a person buying gas at a convenience store could get a coupon for a free soda at that store.
Ten Square, a company that is developing browser-based advertising strategies, bills itself as an interactive point of sale broadcasting and publishing company and says it can deliver anything to an ATM from a simple cents-off coupon to a high-definition movie trailer. Ten Squares technology underlies the ATM in the ABC studios lobby, and the company was represented with Tidel to promote the concept.
Scott Slinker, president and chief executive officer of Ten Square, said the key to coupon campaigns is to drive local people to local merchants. People do not want to go through their Sunday newspaper with a machete looking for coupons.
Mr. Slinker said his idea is to start small with 10 square blocks of advertising turf and then expand. His company recently completed a 13-week test in Atlanta in which gas pumps, rather than ATMs, were equipped with the technology to deliver ads and coupons. Ten Square targeted the gasoline industry because of its massive transaction volume, Mr. Slinker said about 42 billion per year in North America.
The three-year-old company plans to roll out its Ten Square Digital Network to gas pumps in 20 major U.S. cities this year, including Dallas, Miami, New Orleans, Phoenix, San Diego, and Sacramento, Calif. Mr. Slinker predicted that the Ten Square technology to be installed at 2,800 gas stations and convenience stores in the 20 cities will have 3.5 billion interactions with consumers this year.
You absolutely want to do local-based, street-level campaigns, Mr. Slinker said. If I can send a message campaign into the local economy, I can influence that economy.
Mr. Slinker also said his company is in negotiations with a company that drives bank-branch ATMs. He said he intends that banks will cut deals with their commercial customers for advertisements on the banks ATMs.
An ATM is a great way to help a merchant who is doing business with your bank market itself, Mr. Slinker said.
He said the idea for Ten Square came to him a few years ago when he got lost while driving in Wilmington, N.C. He stopped at a gas station-convenience store and asked for directions. When he returned to pump his gas, he looked at the small screen delivering pumping prompts and said, I wonder if I could get maps out of that screen? And I started thinking.
Ten Square has partnerships with Citgo Petroleum Corp.; the Verifone division of Hewlett-Packard Co.; Marconi Commerce Systems Inc., which makes gas pumps; and Tidel, which is based in Carrollton, Tex.
Mr. Levenick of Tidel said its Chameleon ATM can be set like a clock to initiate the call out to the media distribution server to get its updated content, or the media distribution center could call the machine to tell it it has content ready to be downloaded.
An ATM or gas pump could be programmed to get new advertising content late at night when there is little customer activity. It hangs up the line if someone does an ATM transaction, Mr. Levenick said. When thats completed, it reestablishes contact with the distribution center and continues its update.
The new ATMs also do not need dedicated phone lines 24 hours a day. They can work with dial-up lines, which cost a fraction of a traditional lines cost and can be programmed as needed. These ATMs can potentially do more than deliver cash and coupons. With further programming, they should be able to cash payroll and government checks as well as do wire transfers and pay bills electronically. They may also let customers to go to a few of Web sites to make quick purchases.
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