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Discovery, Cox Test Interactive Kiosk

Following more than a year of talks, marketers at Cox Communications Inc. and Discovery Networks Inc. late last month launched an interactive retail kiosk at the Discovery Store in Rhode Island's Providence Place Mall.

At the kiosk, shoppers can learn more about advanced Cox products, including digital cable, high-speed Internet access and digital telephony. They can also access the programmer's broadband content, said Discovery Networks director of MSO marketing Melinda Miller.

But because the demonstration kiosk uses walled-garden content, Discovery Store shoppers can't access the outside Internet. That's so whenever a shopper leaves the kiosk, the page left on-screen is one that promotes either the MSO or the programmer.

Although Discovery Store helps promote Discovery Channel affiliates elsewhere, Providence is the only market where the programmer has installed a retail sales kiosk for an MSO.

The network wants to "take six months to evaluate the success of this effort," Miller said. It plans to determine whether the kiosks actually drive sales of Cox revenue-generating units and increase brand awareness for the operator.

If the test proves worthy, Discovery may expand the kiosk effort into other top retail markets.

In Providence, the parties will promote the retail kiosk during a March 9 launch event, said Miller.

The in-store event will also highlight BBC America's recent addition to Cox's local systems. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, a face painter hired for the celebration will draw Irish designs on children's mugs and a Celtic band will perform. Shoppers also have a chance to win gift certificates to the mall and six months of free Cox digital-cable service.

Cox will promote the launch event through cross-channel spots. Because the cable company also operates a standalone retail kiosk in Providence Place Mall, it will cross-promote the Discovery Store display through bag stuffers, food-court tent cards and posters throughout the mall, Miller noted. The retailer can also print maps directing customers to the Cox kiosk, which staffed by two Cox employees.

"We're driving people back and forth," Miller said.

Consumers can check on Cox service availability at the Discovery Store kiosk, and order service online if they choose. For those who don't, Discovery will encourage customers to leave their personal contact information in exchange for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate at Discovery Store or

Discovery does not receive a commission from Cox for leads or sales — just good will.