FMCG brands have long been deciphering how best to connect with consumers as their shopping behaviour changes. Working with Google, Coca-Cola has begun using browsing-history data on consumers’ smartphones to serve them real-time, personalised ads on digital supermarket signage.
The screens, owned by Coke, are placed at the end of the soft drinks aisle and can communicate with a shopper’s smartphone. They can access a phone’s IP address – which suggests a consumer’s location – as well as browsing data from Google’s DoubleClick ad-serving software. This provides the consumer’s approximate age and gender, and current shopping preoccupations.
The data determines the most relevant ad to show, subsequently displaying it on the digital screens as the consumer approaches. For instance, if a shopper is interested in health and fitness, the screens might show an ad for sparkling water or diet tonic instead of sugary soft drinks.
Coca-Cola has already reported that a 250-store US pilot with grocery chain Albertsons delivered a one-month return on investment (the outlay involved in the supermarket purchasing the screens to facilitate the programme). It’s seen an increase in sales of both Coca-Cola and other soft drinks, although specific figures haven’t yet been disclosed.
Notably, part of the concept’s apparent early success is likely to lie in its relatively non-invasive semi-subliminal nature, with the data not pulled from app information – only browsing history.