Coffee table-top ad revenues promise to be more than a handful of beans

The days of the cappuccino-flavoured escape from commerce may soon be gone, reports Alex Benady

Turn on the television and an advertising slogan invariably hits you. Newspapers, magazines, radio, billboards, bus stops and even the buses themselves have become platforms for hectoring us with more sales pitches. It's time to seek respite with a nice quiet cup of coffee.

Turn on the television and an advertising slogan invariably hits you. Newspapers, magazines, radio, billboards, bus stops and even the buses themselves have become platforms for hectoring us with more sales pitches. It's time to seek respite with a nice quiet cup of coffee.

Except the cappuccino is no longer the refuge from the commercial world you'd thought it was. One enterprising British company has found a way of turning the tables we sit at in cafés, restaurants and pubs into yet another advertising medium.

The "ambient media" firm tabletalkmedia has started fitting table tops in coffee bars, food courts and hospital refectories with virtually indestructible laminate surfaces printed with glossy ads for anything from financial services to soaps.

"I was sitting having a coffee with a friend a couple of years ago when it dawned on me that the table top itself represented a huge untapped commercial opportunity," says Lloyd Keisner, the co-founder of tabletalkmedia. It must have been like finding a winning lottery ticket in the street. His company is now sub-letting table tops to advertisers for around £50 per month.

It sounds so obvious that it's surprising that it hasn't been done before. But Keisner says it cost him hundreds of thousands of pounds to develop a stick-on that would withstand constant heat, wiping, scratching, picking and the occasional cigarette burn.

His pitch is that table tops offer advertisers a wide range of advantages. First is the surprising volume of people who see them.

His company has just struck a deal with Coffee Republic to put ads on 1,200 tables in 50 or so of its shops up and down the country. "Coffee Republic alone attracts more than a million customers a month," Keisner points out. That is the equivalent to the readership of a sizeable magazine.

He has also signed deals with the catering giant Compass, which runs restaurants in hospitals and shopping centres, so his current holding is around 5,000 table tops, delivering six million "impressions" a month. And that's just scratching the surface of the millions of table tops that exist in the UK alone.

Despite being a mass medium in every sense, table tops also offer advertisers another benefit; that of targetability. "Coffee Republic happens to attract a preponderance of ABC men, but other outlets will have their own distinct geographical and demographic characters," he says.

But the real prize, and this is why table-top advertising is probably here to stay, say media experts, is that it offers advertisers the thing they crave above all else; our undivided attention. With so much information bombarding us the whole time, we have learned to tune out most advertising, turning a blind-eye to TV commercials, and careering past posters.

"Undivided attention" has been re-branded in advertising-sales-speak as "dwell time" - the period spent in front of a commercial. "For mainstream media it is usually seconds. But research shows dwell-time in cafés or pubs averages 15min. That's a great chance to get your message lodged in people's minds," says Keisner.

But isn't it also a great chance to royally irritate customers who almost by definition are using the café or bar to provide a pause, a break from the hubbub? After all, you don't have to be Naomi Klein to object to your cultural space being co-opted by commercial interests.

Not at all, says Coffee Republic. "Coffee shops are not sacred environments or havens from the outside world. People come in for all sorts of reasons. But we are obviously very concerned not to alienate our customers, and the tests we have done suggest that these ads don't bother anyone in the slightest," argues its trading director, Mike Baker. He says that the company vets both the brands that advertise and the copy they supply, so there is no danger of going in for a sarnie and being confronted with, say, a dog-food or san-pro ad.

He is completely up-front about the motivating factor for table-owners. It's just money. "We're doing this for revenue. We're a commercial operation competing in a tough environment. This will provide us with extra revenue and help us stay competitive."

Coffee Republic could make half a million pounds a year from selling ads on its 1,200 table tops. This type of advertising is likely to mushroom.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
musicReview: 1989's songs attempt to encapsulate dramatic emotional change in a few striking lines
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
I'm not worried about United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Arts and Entertainment
Saw point: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Serena’
filmReview: Serena is a strangely dour and downbeat affair
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

International Promotions Manager - Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: A global entertainment busi...

Head of Finance - Media

£80000 - £90000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for an International Mul...

Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker