Consumer-activated video commercials are being touted as the next big thing in US instore marketing.

The Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive and Kraft Foods are among the major names signed to trial the ShelfAds device - a 10-second commercial triggered on a shelf as a shopper walks down a supermarket aisle.

Texas-headquartered POP Broadcasting, which is marketing the technology, believes the system will answer criticism of instore advertising - worth an estimated $17 billion (€13.92bn; £9.54bn) a year in the US, but difficult to measure in terms of effectiveness and ROI.

Hypes veteran POP founder/chairman Earl Littman (79): "This is the Holy Grail, the last eight seconds of the buying decision, this is where advertising could really work."

Littman, whose vision is backed by $1.3 million in venture capital funds, says rates will be $4 per day, no matter how many times a shopper steps into the infrared zone that triggers the ad to play.

A year of advertising on ShelfAds will cost under $1,500 compared to thousands of dollars for an ad on Wal-Mart TV, which runs ads simultaneously throughout the store, instead of on an aisle-by-aisle basis.

The devices cost $300 to manufacture, run on a battery, are attachable to store shelves and operated by a remote server the size of a cigar box, says John McGinnis, svp at AVIDWireless, which developed the technology.

Gwen Morison from WPP's retail practice arm, The Store, believes the system could have advantages over more established large screen in-store marketing, which shoppers can "tune out".

She says: "Brands and marketers are desperate to reach shoppers at the shelf … [ShelfAds] might catch your attention and create more of a speed bump in the aisle since the sound is not going on constantly."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff