The rapid progression of digital technology has led to the fight for attention intensifying, with media companies all vying against each other for the consumer’s time.
Around a decade ago, Giggle Entertainment founder Del Shaw noticed that one space where consumer attention was still left to its own devices to some regard was in the waiting rooms of small- to medium-sized businesses.
He says he often saw people bored, paging through old magazines or flicking through their phones, and thought it presented an opportunity.
His response has been to steadily introduce television screens, playing a series of humorous snippets, into businesses around the country.
“We have been hiding in the background developing our systems and expanding our now 1200 locations across New Zealand,” Shaw says.
“I knew that until we had enough scale, we wouldn’t be interesting to advertisers.”
He has targeted small- to medium-sized businesses that have high dwell times among customers. Hairdressers, cafes, gyms and auto shops are just a few examples of the kinds stores where one might see a Giggle TV screen.
What he has essentially done over the past nine years is create 15 networks across New Zealand, each of which he’s now offering to interested parties as a franchise opportunity.
Shaw says the story of Giggle Entertainment came about almost as an accident, following an experiment conducted in Palmerston North.
While manufacturing screens, Shaw would load funny pictures and videos from the internet as test files.
“My colleges would come past and stand and watch the funnies, over and over,” he recalls.
“From that moment, I understood that engagement is king… and so an idea was born: use humour to make people look at the screen, repetitively.”
Of course, humour alone does not deliver revenue. It has to be monetised in some way. And Shaw does this by interspersing ads between the funny clips served onto the screens.
“The split is 65 percent funnies, 35 percent ads,” he says. “We’re Giggle TV, we’re not ad TV.”
In addition to reaching a broad range of consumers, Shaw says another advantage of the network is that it can be split into verticals.
Some stores are popular among female consumers while men are the major patrons at others—giving advertisers the opportunity to target specific groups with advertising.
Shaw develops all the content served onto the Giggle Entertainment network in-house, testing the jokes on family members and friends.
“You have to be really careful with humour because it’s easy to offend when you’re trying to be funny,” he says.
“We try to keep everything as G-rated as possible.”
The obvious response to the use of TV screens in waiting rooms is that we don’t really need them, given that everyone already has a customisable screen in their pockets.
In response, Shaw conducted research using facial recognition to see how many customers were actually consuming the content while sitting in waiting rooms.
“I was happy with 20 percent but [the research] came back with over 50 percent, with some reaching as high as 58 percent,” he says, crediting the appeal of the content to the use of humour.
And while the business has already been around for quite some time, Shaw says he's always on the hunt for new partners interested in giving those in the waiting room a few laughs.