As we note in our Types of Advertising Media tutorial, signage advertising includes all forms of advertising that use signs in a way that “places advertising in geographically identified areas in order to capture customer attention.” The potential locations for placing signage advertising are fairly remarkable. According, to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, an industry trade group, signage advertising, which they call out-of-home advertising, includes over 30 formats, such as traditional billboards, banners pulled by airplanes or boats, transit bus ad wraps, ads affixed to shopping carts, and images projected on building. It is a big market with ad revenue in the U.S. alone exceeding $7 billion for 2014.

As we noted last year, this industry is changing as digital options are making headway into many signage advertising formats. Not only are digital billboards found along highways in nearly all major cities around the world, but digital signage is now found at gas stations, on movie theater screens, and on information kiosks. Some of these even permit a viewer to interact with the advertisement by touching the display.

However, digital display is not the only innovation in the signage advertising. According to this story from AdWeek, the level of interactivity with some signage advertisements may soon include more than touching it with a finger. The story reports on how candy brand Kit Kat has installed 20 street-level billboards in Bogota, Columbia that provide back massages to passersby. These billboards are placed at key transportation locations, such as bus stops, as part of the promotional strategy Kit Kat is using as they try to gain entry into the Columbian market.

So what do billboards offering a massage to weary travelers have to do with Kit Kat? The answer can be found in the brand’s well-known slogan - "Gimme a Break."

When thinking about the type of marketing decisions faced by retailers, it is easy to get drawn into fairly obvious decisions, such as what products need to be carried, what types of promotion are required to build customer traffic and what pricing approaches should be used that will be acceptable to the consumer market. Often overlooked, however, are important decisions related to distribution. For instance, issues related to product movement, such as how inventory is stored in the backroom or in a warehouse, or what methods are used to transport products to retail stores or to ship directly to consumers.

There is also another key distribution decision that may not readily come to mind, but that may carry as much weight as any other marketing decision, especially for retailers with physical outlets. That decision concerns where geographically to locate stores. When making location decisions many factors must be weighed, such as proximity to the target market (i.e., time it takes to travel to a store), ease of accessing a store (i.e., traffic patterns, public transportation availability, walking distance), cost of retail space (i.e., rental, construction expenses), existence of other retailers (i.e., active retail area, location of competitors) and many more.

For large retail chains with hundreds of stores, the amount of information they have available when making location decisions often dwarfs what is available to mom-and-pop stores or small chains. A good example of the information advantage held by the big players can be seen in this story from Fortune. It discusses how drugstore chain Walgreens uses “location intelligence” to help select sites for new stores. By utilizing geographic mapping, demographics data and other market variables, Walgreens can identify locations that present the best potential.

But that is not all. Walgreens geo-mapping system is also combined with other company acquired information, both from data gathered in-house and from public information, to help the retailer understand trends occurring in a geographic area. For example, using prescription information to determine where there may be a spike in flu activity, which can then be used to help store management with inventory decisions.

To see some of the other ways Walgreens employs “location intelligence” see the YouTube video included with this post.

Over the last two weeks or so there have been several developments that are bringing the business of fantasy sports into question. For those not familiar with fantasy sports, it is a form of gaming in which performance statistics from athletes in professional sporting events are used as the competitve measure.  One example of fantasy sports involves friends and family members create a fantasy league, where they each select athletes from a real professional sports league, such at the National Football League (NFL), to form their own team. Teams then compete in season-long, head-to-head matches and the winner is determined based on  athletes' sports performance statistics in a real professsional event (e.g., NFL game). Many of these leagues are so-called “cash leagues,” where participation requires paying a fee to play and at the end of the season the top winners earn money. While fantasy started as a friends-and-family activity, it has now grown into a big-time business with major brands, such as ESPN and Yahoo, offering products to help fantasy players and to assist with league management.

However, the questions that have been raised recently about fantasy sports are not about friends-and-family leagues, which often have less than 20 players. Rather, this is about daily-fantasy games, where people compete against thousands of competitors and payout to winners can top over $1 million in a single day. Daily-fantasy games are dominated by two companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, who earn money from entry fees charged to participants.

The concerns being expressed about fantasy sports, in general, and these two companies, in particular, relates to whether money is being won based on games of skill or games of chance. If the latter, then it may be considered a form of gambling and, thus, faces potential governmental regulation. Of course, fantasy companies believe they are presenting games of skill and, consequently, their customers are not gambling.

From a marketing perspective, there are several interesting factors that come into play with fantasy sports. For instance, the question of whether or not it is gambling is really about the product decisions made by these companies. Also, how this grew to become a legal issue is about market size and number of customers. As discussed in this Wall Street Journal story, fantasy sports is projected to bring in nearly $4 billion in entry fees this year with that number forecasted to grow significantly over the next few years. A major reason for this growth can be attributed to highly targeted marketing and, more importantly, enormous advertising. For instance, the story reports that DraftKings spent $81 million on advertising between August 1 and early September, just as the NFL season was getting underway. More interesting, a key investor in DraftKings, Fox Networks, not only invested $150 million in the fantasy firm but also cut an advertising deal whereby DraftKings will spend $250 million in advertising on Fox’s sports channel over a three year period.

It is not known how long it will take before the skill vs. chance question will be answered, but for now the marketing angle is certainly an interesting one.