You enter a supermarket and that's the first image you see. What would you think of it? I'll tell you what I thought: nothing much.

When entering a location, your immediate goal is getting inside by any means so your attention hardly goes elsewhere. Oh my eyes noticed that soap-like dispenser but kept moving on along with my body. It didn't help the position of that particular device was awkward: way off to the side, away from the entrance and exit; almost stashed.

What would you think though if you saw this again on your next stop, say a Subway restaurant? Ok. See now, things are getting interesting. Once means nothing but a second appearance on another street? What's happening here?

Entranced by the dispenser & the thought process

My initial reaction: "Doesn't that belong in a restroom?"

"haha you're so slow and stupid. It's obvious." Ok, we already knew that but that comment doesn't help me.

Because I was sitting down with someone else, I had ample time to stare at it. I had never seen anything like it before.

  • On the front there's a message for some charity.
  • The display on both locations were roughly in a prominent place: the entrance.
  • You can wash your hands for free.

It didn't make sense. Why would retail owners pay for hand sanitizers and go out of their way encouraging everyone to use it? Some restaurants won't even allow access to their bathrooms unless you're a buyer. Could the fear of germs be going up in this neighborhood?

Then it hit me.

The unifying theory behind the sanitizer device

This is part of an advertising network! Ingenious if my theory proves correct.

What can you do to attract many eyeballs at a local level? Traditional billboards? Too big and I'm guessing the best locations are already taken.

No, you first grab the attention of people by focusing on what they 'want'. How? Create the problem and immediately offer the solution. In this case, remind everybody of germs being everywhere and offer a way to cleanse themselves... for free.

An innocent proposition with hidden intentions

So what? Well, now, you have their focus for a brief moment. By merely grabbing some of that soap from the dispenser, you naturally look at the front cover where the advertising poster stares you in the face.

Voila. A new advertising medium is born.

"A place for paid announcements, huh? Can't be that good though. As the advertising network, you waste money supplying the soap and you can't know the effectiveness", you think.

Not necessarily. Do you see that sticker on the side with the words "Need a refill?" Well, that's the key to everything.

"WTF? Stop dragging this. If you won't tell me then...", you say.

Ok. Ok. You see, the more customers use the hand sanitizer, the more the retail owner will ask for refills. These refill requests are the gauge to determine if people are actually cleaning their hands, and thereby, engaging with the advertisements. If the advertising network doesn't hear from a location as often, they'll know immediately that place is a dud. Their call on whether to pull out of that place or something.

You can convince retail owners to carry this if they see it as a bonus to their clients. Not only that, promise free refills.

Or, you can share some of the profits with them based on engagement. Either way, a win-win situation.

Could there be problems with this specific arrangement? Of course but you get the idea, no? I have other thoughts but I'm not here to solve their problems.

The main point is: do you see how much you can uncover and unravel if you stretch your mind and imagine how things you don't understand can work? You'll amaze yourself at what you can conjure up.

Uncovering the advertising network under your nose

The fuzzy is now clearer. Of course, all theoretical.

Only afterwards did I look more into this and it seems I wasn't too far off. Apparently, the brains behind this operation is a company by the name of Terraboost and the medium is officially called "Hand Sanitizing Billboards". You can check their promo video.

If a slow person like myself can think, so can you.


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