Counting Eye-Clicks in the Store

My former boss at 360Commerce once told me that advertising would someday be prevalent inside the store and we would be recording "eye-clicks." As is always the case with Jerry, he's too far ahead for his own good. At the time the idea sounded too "Minority Report" to take seriously, but four years later and its sounding probable.

Novitaz.PNG
On the internet there are many advertising engines that will display ads on Web pages as you surf. Displaying the ad has value, getting the person to click on the ad has more value, and converting into a sale has the most value. Advertisers are paid on this scale, so its in their best interest to display relevant ads, which are more likely to interest you. They do this by inferring your interests from your browsing history (via cookies). They may not know your name, but they know you frequent car sites, for example, so those are the types of ads they display. The more sophisticated systems actually build a social graph so they can infer your interests from your friends' interests, but I'm digressing.

A lot of science goes into this advertising network, yet online sales represent just 10 percent of all sales. Most of the sales still occur in the physical stores, and advertising while people are shopping just seems more effective. They're in the right state of mind.

Sure there are signs and displays in stores, but they aren't really advertising and they certainly aren't targeted advertising. But mobile phones change what's possible. Now that consumers are carrying a computer into the store with them, we can do much more.

Using the mobile phone to identify the consumer, locate him/her, and display relevant advertising is now possible. Privacy concerns aside, the technologies exist to know when a consumer is walking near a store, in which department they are browsing, and how long they've spent in front of a particular endcap. Companies like ShopKick, Placecast, Novitaz, and NearBuy are making this happen.

Soon there will be an advertising network in the store that will target consumers in real-time, delivering offers from retailers, CPG brands, and restaurants. Just as we were hesitant to accept advertising on the Web, we'll resist in-store advertising until we start to see the benefits. After all, consumers only sacrifice their privacy for commensurate payback. But it will happen, and its sooner than you think.

Its not exactly eye-clicks, but its getting closer.

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David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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