Following a successful initial public offering, i-design, the
Scotland-based specialist provider of ATM marketing software and
media services, has announced that it expects the number of ATMs
that feature its ad software to increase by at least 300 percent in
the next year. In September it signed a five-year deal with
Alliance & Leicester (A&L), the UK’s eighth-largest bank,
to run third-party advertising and internal marketing campaigns
across its ATM network.

The vendor’s ATM:ad system, which it first launched in 2004, has
been developed to enable banks to reach ATM users with targeted
advertising, generate revenue from third-party advertisers and
promote banks’ own products. It gives customers a reminder at the
bottom of their ATM receipt.

The A&L contract follows successful tie-ups with HSBC and with
the UK’s biggest building society, Nationwide, which extended the
use of ATM advertising across its entire network of off-site ATMs
in 2005 following a successful trial at a limited number of

While the concept of ATM advertising has been around since the late
1980s, it initially met with a mixed reception from a number of
banks that ran ATM advertising trials. In the US, in particular,
much hype surrounded early ATM advertising by Wells Fargo and Bank
of America, only for the banks to abandon the idea.

In July this year, when i-design floated on the Alternative
Investment Market, its system was running on more than 2,100 of the
UK’s network of 60,000 ATMs.

Talking to RBI, i-design CEO Ana Stewart said that banks
are now becoming more amenable to the idea of ATM advertising.
“There has been a huge shift over the past 12 to 24 months. The
banks are striving to find new ways of reaching their customers and
focus is very much on the bottom line,” she said.

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“We have now sold over 10,000 licences [and] these sites will come
online over the coming months so we are very excited about the
growth. We also expect to see this figure substantially increase
over the next 12 months.”

Banks have the right of veto over which advertisers are featured
and control over the content distributed to their ATMs.

“ATM:ad removes the dependency on the bank to find advertisers and
manages the whole process of booking and content generation,”
Stewart said.

According to Stewart, the advertisements do not impose on the
customer’s time by extending the duration of the ATM transaction.
“The model uses dead space in the transaction while a customer is
waiting for their cash, receipt or card. It is very much like the
internet where ads can be displayed above or around a key message,”
she said.

The ATM:ad software can also complement a bank’s wider customer
relationship management (CRM) efforts. “ATM:ad embraces a
step-by-step approach to CRM. It has some highly advanced built-in
features which are available on day one without the need to invest
heavily into the back-end systems. In addition, it provides a road
map to full CRM whereby ATM:ad can be plugged into existing
back-end systems as and when the bank wishes to do so,” said

In addition, i-design has introduced an on-screen question that
allows the bank to capture customer feedback during the ATM

“There are few channels that can offer such a powerful marketing
opportunity, focused on delivering flexibility to the bank. It can
run internal-only campaigns or allow third-party content [with] the
bank generating revenue from third-party advertisers via a revenue
share,” said Stewart.

Mobile phone campaign

One current UK ad campaign for mobile phone operator T-Mobile ties
in neatly with the growing acceptance of ATMs offering a wider
range of services. T-Mobile’s Top Up Friday promotion, offering
unlimited free texts all day Saturday and Sunday to customers who
top up their mobile phone balance on a Friday, will be advertised
at Nationwide’s ATM network, which i-design estimates will be seen
by 2.35 million ATM users during the autumn campaign.

“As ATM mobile phone top-ups are becoming more prevalent and
accepted, for banks to accept an ad [from] brands like mobile
telecoms, etc, is just as relevant and useful to the customer,”
said Stewart.

Past ATM:ad promotions have included government-sponsored, police
and public health and safety campaigns relating to protecting cash,
tax return reminders and keeping valuables safe – “all of which are
highly relevant to the ATM audience”, said Stewart.

i-design will now look to extend its reach outside the UK and has
identified Ireland, Holland, Greece and Spain as countries offering
early opportunities to grow its business.