The word "experiential" has been in the mall lexicon for some time, though its meaning hasn't been entirely clear. But today Simon defined the concept in announcing it was "cranking up the volume on experiential marketing" with two events targeting teens and children

Simon DTour Live is a national road trip of seven "pop stars" (Kaci Brown, B5, MTV star Ryan Cabrera and others) that will travel to 25 Simon malls across the country, while promoting co-sponsors' brands, such as Nintendo, Coca-Cola and The N nighttime network for teens. The second "experiential" program is "Feelin' Groovy," a "celebration of 'health and swellness'" that leverages Radio Disney programming to teach younger children to "play their way" to healthy living. It will travel to 77 malls.

Simon is not alone in upping the ante on mall entertainment. The Mills Corp. said in May that it expanded its mall marketing alliance to include three new initiatives with PBS KIDS at its U.S. malls: a monthly story time called Share A Story, a national community service day called Kids That Care Day and a variety of Halloween activities.

"The partnership expansion demonstrates The Mills ability to serve as a marketing platform for brands to reach key audiences, enhance the overall shopping experience for customers and drive incremental traffic to the centers," said Kurt Ivey, Mills vice president of field marketing, when that program was announced

Earlier, Mills said that Elle magazine and Entertainment Weekly had signed on as sponsors of the fashion and entertainment area at Mills' planned Meadowlands Xanadu, and that more sponsors were expected. At Xanadu, displays promoting the magazines and their advertisers will be featured throughout the space, and the publications will provident entertainment, such as fashion shows and concerts.

The days of just-plain shopping at malls are over. Prepare to be part of the experience -- or, make that, "experiential" -- programming.

---Beth Karlin