Monarch Advertising

In its search for a display to enhance its in-store advertising units, this innovative firm chose NEC Display Solutions as its exclusive flat-panel monitor supplier.

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Monarch Advertising

In its search for a display to enhance its in-store advertising units, this innovative firm chose NEC Display Solutions* as its exclusive flat-panel monitor supplier.

During your typical trip to the grocery store, your time waiting in line is most likely spent staring at the back of the head of the person in front of you, going through the mental image of the grocery list you left at home or contemplating whether or not to pick up that tempting chocolate candy bar. Monarch Advertising, a multi-faceted firm out of Normal, Illinois, is looking to occupy that wandering mind of yours with its Monarch 3® advertising units. From grocery and video stores to movie theaters and restaurants, Monarch's goal is to capitalize on each and every advertising opportunity in which there’s a high likelihood that a consumer's attention can be caught. NEC Display Solutions LCD monitors play a key role in catching the consumer's eye.

Monarch Advertising was formed in 2001 after Mark Ruttenberg, who would start the company and become its president, noticed advertising on an automatic teller machine at the bank and began to realize the impact that local advertising could have on area businesses. “The traditional media of advertising has been television, radio and newspapers,” said Ruttenberg. “For many merchants, these forms of advertising have not been cost-effective since they normally cover larger geographical areas, and potential customers would not be expected to drive in from these long distances.

“Does it make sense for a video store to advertise to potential customers 5-10 miles away when there are other video stores in those neighborhoods? Probably not. Nor is it practical for a child care service to be advertising to potential customers that are 20 miles away. These types of businesses have relied on word of mouth and local flyers for advertising.”

Monarch developed an alternative to traditional media, in which effective advertising is affordable to small and large business merchants. The firm forms partnerships with merchants and installs patent-pending, three-sided advertising units at each checkout stand or register. The unit, named the Monarch 3, is comprised of one LCD monitor, while the other two sides accommodate billboard-style ads. Thousands of shoppers every month will be in a great position to view these paid ads. Monarch refers to this as “in-your-face advertising.”

Monarch leases its equipment to merchants, who, in turn, use the available ad space to promote their business, products, services, in-store specials, community bulletins, public service reminders, lost and found, etc. Any advertising space the store does not use for its own promotion can be sold to vendors and/or neighboring merchants, providing a source of additional revenue.

Monarch also assists the merchant in selling the available advertising space to local businesses within close proximity of the store and pass up to 100% of the ad revenue to the merchant. In addition, Monarch assists the advertisers in the design and production of the ads. “The increased revenue that Monarch sends me each month is newfound money,” said Jim Linsley, owner of Lindy’s Downtown Market in Washington, Illinois. “This wonderful leasing program is a ‘money machine’ that is definitely paying for itself!”

Monarch’s proprietary software allows each advertiser the ability to change their ads on a daily basis. The addition of new ads and the deletion of old ads are conducted from its headquarters through the Internet. Real estate agents and automobile dealers are extremely keen on this concept since their inventory changes quite often. For instance, if a local realtor sends Monarch an image of a house that just went on the market, it can be placed into the firm’s template and be running on ads the next day. Electronic ads can be static or allow for animation and full-motion video, while the bottom portion of the monitor acts as a scrolling marquee. The merchant is entitled to the scroll 24/7 and can change the scroll anytime during the day to reflect “last-minute specials.”

With the challenge of vying for the average consumer’s attention, Monarch needed a display for its advertising units that not only would be durable enough to run for extended periods of time, but would be bright enough to draw people’s eyes to it. The displays would need to have the capability to run full-motion video and animations without distortion or interruptions. In addition, since Monarch would be targeting people waiting in long lines, the displays would need to be legible from a wide side-angle.

Ruttenberg and his staff conducted an in-depth lab study, in which they tested eight different 15" LCD monitors side-by-side in order to determine which best met their needs. “Price wasn’t a main concern for us,” said Ruttenberg. “Overall quality was. The stats that various manufactures offer can be misleading. For example, two different manufacturers can state that their respective monitors offer similar viewing angles, but until you can see them side-by-side in a controlled environment, you have to take the manufacturer’s word for the accuracy of their stats. The other major factors we took into consideration were the brightness and clarity of the picture in addition to the price and warranty.”

In the end, NEC Display Solutions’ monitor stood out amongst the competition and became Monarch's exclusive supplier for its units. “Although we found the price of NEC monitors to be a little higher, we found them to be the best choice based upon their quality, the staff's desire to work with us and a strong three-year warranty,” said Ruttenberg.

Back in 2001, Monarch wall-mounted the monitors in several high-traffic retail areas, including movie theaters (concessions, registers, hallways), video stores, bagel shops, bowling alleys, fast-food and sit-down restaurants, cleaners and bars. Today, using the 15" NEC MultiSync LCD1560V-BK, Monarch builds its three-sided units around the monitor, with the display flush-mounted inside. “We decided to use the 15" monitor so that it wasn't too obtrusive to the consumer,” said Ruttenberg.

To date, Monarch has installed its advertising units in 40 locations (most in central Illinois), with an average of seven advertising units per installation. The majority of its recent efforts have been focused on grocery stores as these provide the most foot traffic and the best opportunity to reach a captive audience at a number of checkout lanes or aisles. Seven grocers have had Monarch’s units installed with 25 more on their waiting list. With grocers typically being the most heavily-trafficked retailer in a given town, local businesses also can easily realize the potential in advertising at these establishments. So far, 250 advertisers, both local and regional, have spots running with Monarch-from police departments and auto dealerships to Bob Evans and the Red Cross.

In addition to enjoying a new revenue source, grocers also are praising Monarch units’ NEC LCD monitors, in particular for what they’re doing for store appearance. “The same things I keep hearing from the grocers are how much the units enhance the appearance of the stores and the sharp images that are being portrayed on the NEC monitors,” said Jim Searcy, Monarch’s director of installation.

“Our installations call for 3-12 monitors being seen at the same time and showing the identical ad,” said Searcy. “It is very important that we have a brilliant display with accurate, vibrant colors that match from monitor-to-monitor. The NEC monitors all match color and brilliance perfectly, right out of the box.”

Seeing More in the Future

With business booming, Ruttenberg is continually thinking of new ways to use Monarch’s fresh approach to advertising. With the information display market growing, he decided to look into larger-sized displays for advertising. After testing five plasma displays side-by-side, he brought in a 30" NEC LCD. “The plasmas looked good until we put the LCD next to them,” he said. “That’s all it took. The price was worth the difference in quality. Also, with the LCD, we can count on it for three years with a lot more predictability.”

Monarch is currently leasing the 40" NEC LCD4000 and 30" (29.5" VIS) LCD3000 displays to retail businesses looking to promote their in-store products and services, and hopes to create an entirely new division for information displays over the next couple of years. “The 30" and 40" displays are ideal for in-store advertising for your own business,” said Ruttenberg. “Used auto dealers could advertise their best deals in their showroom or a restaurant could advertise their daily specials in the entrance area. The possibilities are endless.”