Marketing is taking twists and turns that are surprising and more than a little scary.
Example: Some Walmart stores are testing sensors in the ceiling that monitor shoppers who touch products. Touching is a good sign. It means you’re more than just curious about buying something.
So you touch a TV and the sensor alerts a clerk who comes over and hands you a 10-percent-off coupon. The sale is sealed.
The goal, according to Robert Scoble of the cloud-computing company Rackspace, is to rapidly capture individual customers at the point of sale.
It’s not just Walmart. Other retailers are experimenting with similar schemes, according to CNBC.
The Walmart system works without shopper knowledge, making it more accurate.
As nearly everybody has a cell phone, that’s a good place to start for sensor-enabled marketing. Apple’s new C5 iPhone has a powerful sensor to track where you go. Its advanced accelerometer could tell marketers what stores you visit, where and what you purchase. This would be useful in monitoring store traffic and separating lookers from buyers. The buyers would get the sale prices.
Wearable computers offer a rich new source of data about us. Google’s wearable Glass system can track where a shopper is looking. It should be easy to include a similar sensor in the new wristwatch computers. Since entering a store shows interest, merchants could use this data to create a personal ad campaign directed at individuals.
One of the drivers of all this is the expense of mass marketing. Ads are directed at ZIP codes, seeking to reach shoppers with money. That’s expensive, as few campaigns go over a few percentage points of response. Less than 5 percent is a respectable response rate for coupons. That means 95 percent of the advertising expense is wasted.
But, will consumers accept this personalized shopping which to some may seem intrusive? The response to the new email ads that monitor and suggest products you’ve mentioned in messages has been tepid at best. What if this became the norm for all shopping?
It should be good for advertisers as ads appear almost everywhere, to the point of overload. When that happens, consumers tune them out. With sensor-based shopping, there will be none of that. The computer will guess what you want and offer a hopefully enticing deal on the spot. Credit or cash?
Google has been reprogrammed to better read our search requests. The company realized many of us search in full sentences, such as “What is the address of Walmart in Canton.” Google’s new searcher software is designed to accurately handle this and eliminate the useless hits. Many users who search in keywords and not sentences may not notice the difference.
Reach Jim at 330-580-8324 or email@example.com. On Twitter: @jhillibishREP