Indianapolis-based Vibenomics has announced a new partnership with the nation’s largest supermarket chain. The company, which provides audio out-of-home (OOH) advertising services, says the deal with Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) will make it one of the largest advertising companies in the country. The Vibenomics OOH platform combines licensed music with paid commercial advertisements, which the company says enables brands to talk directly to shoppers at thousands of retail locations, including Kroger’s 2,300 stores nationwide.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Chief Executive Officer Brent Oakley said the partnership will dramatically expand the company’s Audio OOH Advertising Marketplace.
“The amount of people that come into Kroger every day, the amount of listeners they have, is going to entice an awful lot of advertising companies and brands and CPGs to want to be able to promote their products within Kroger,” said Oakley. “And the way that we do it and how easy we make it for them to buy and see the inventory and control that inventory is really what made our relationship with Kroger important.”
Oakley says Kroger and its data analytics subsidiary, 84.51°, initially looked to invest in Vibenomics but as talks ensued, it was decided that having Kroger as a customer would be more beneficial for both sides.
Vibenomics says its specialized private audio network will begin broadcasting inside Kroger locations on July 20. The company plans to work with Kroger to determine which categories of advertisers, brands, and specific products make sense to promote on the network.
“Our associates and customers are our number one priority at Kroger, and this is a new way for us to reach them with more meaningful content,” said Cara Pratt, vice president of commercial and product strategy at 84.51°. “It allows us to provide them with up to date and timely information on their favorite brands, helping to improve their shopping experience. It also allows our brand partners to reach customers at a pivotal point in the buying process – the shelf.”
Vibenomics launched its Audio OOH Advertising Marketplace last September and since then, has raised a total of $11 million in funding. Oakley says the OOH platform has fueled the company’s growth.
“We always knew that we had a very special platform,” Oakley said. “Our technology was great. The way it was architected was to allow for advertising, but until you have somebody…it’s kind of like building a race car that’s really fast and great, but if you don’t put a good driver behind the wheel, you can’t win many races.”
That driver is Paul Brenner, chief strategy officer and president of audio out-of-home, who was hired by the company at the same time the OOH platform launched. Brenner says the company has a clear focus.
“When I joined, there was a good entry point with the convenience store market that they had already won over and started to build momentum with; grocery is a nice, natural extension with that because of the number of products that are in the stores,” said Brenner. “We’ll stick with those verticals for a while. I think, with the investments that we have now and what we probably look forward to in the future is to grow a share of those where we’re, you know, 15-20% market share of those spaces and showing the result of our advertising model before we get too aggressive on other verticals.”
Oakley says looking several years down the road, the company will look to bring its platform to other verticals with a focus on location-based that have a lot of foot traffic and sell a lot of products in their stores. He says businesses such as hardware stores and sporting goods stores fit that bill.
Oakley says the partnership will dramatically expand the company’s Audio OOH Advertising Marketplace.