A new kind of newspaper rack that gives video news updates and targeted advertising is being installed at more and more businesses and retail shops throughout the Richmond region.

The racks with built-in video displays are being rolled out as part of a Richmond Times-Dispatch initiative called the Virginia Video Network.

The Times-Dispatch installed the first of the new racks at 25 local businesses in January.

The Virginia Video Network since has been expanded, with video racks now at 40 locations. By mid-September, 50 locations are expected to have the racks.

Some of the screens are part of a newspaper rack. But in other instances, the screens are mounted on walls, counters or other racks that incorporate baskets of fruit or items the retailer wants to sell.

“We are turning newspaper racks into video messages as another way of jumping into the future,” said Thomas A. Silvestri, president and publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “We’re trying to use video to attract new audiences and leveraging partnerships we have had selling newspapers by using those initial locations to get the screens out there.”

Each of the video screens runs a seven-minute loop of local news and advertising. The news content can be updated remotely in about 20 minutes.

The Times-Dispatch partnered with Phoenix Vision, a San Diego-based company, for its SiteView digital billboard technology. The technology can detect how many people have viewed the display in a location, without recording the specifics of the viewer’s identity.

In August, nearly 230,000 instances were recorded when a person stopped to view the video content.

News updates include the RTD’s daily News Minute along with weather reports and an RTD sports segment. A weekend news feature also runs on Saturdays and Sundays.

“We’re adding more and more RTD content to push news out to audiences,” said Broderick Thomas, director of the Virginia Video Network for the newspaper.

Retail locations that install the racks can include their own in-store ads in the mix of content.

Jeff South, a professor of journalism at Virginia Commonwealth University, called the video news racks an example of experimentation and innovation to push news to more consumers.

“What catches the eye of a lot of news consumers is the headline,” South said. “While many of us get those headlines on our phone, there is still significant walk-in traffic in convenience stores and other places that will be attracted to the racks.”

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