Perhaps comedian Bill Cosby predicted this move. At a performance I attended a few years back, Cosby made a point to mention never paying for anything in a store with a credit card or using a loyalty card. Making a joke of it, he said he didn't want retail stores to have a record of his purchases.
Well, Mr. Cosby, consumers paying for purchases with a credit card or a loyalty card now give away thousands of bits of data, along with their identity and purchase information, at the point of sale each day. While most consumers would consider that personally identifiable information, marketers insist they're not interested in knowing who you are, just what you want to buy. They want the information in aggregate, which provides the data to identify broad trends in a specific geographic location. It also gives them the ability to hunt you down through the Internet to serve up the ad for the black Lexus 430 convertible you want.
At this year's OMMA Behavioral, the trend became apparent from the start of the show when Exelate provided a pre-conference presentation focusing on integrating shopping data. Later in the day, MediaPost Senior Writer Wendy Davis led a panel where Fran Maier, CEO at Truste, confirmed that all the information gathered from online and POS transactions can be aggregated to create a "very detailed profile." She said consumers do know they are being tracked online, but they are not given enough information about the information collected.
Execs from the analytics firm Webtrends provided some further insight. Webtrends is working with Dotomi, which retargets ads to consumers, to integrate Analytics 9, an update to its analytics suite announced Tuesday. Casey Carey, Webtrends VP of products, explains that the company also has begun an open dialogue with counterparts at the Denver startup TruEffect, as well as [X+1].
POS cash registers in brick and mortar retail stores collect data from consumer loyalty cards. Webtrends built a data collection applications programming interface that will allow marketers to integrate data into Webtrends's analysis engine. Marketers can feed the POS data from in-store cash registers into a central repository database. Marketers can extract part, or all, of the data and feed it into the analytic engine and correlate the data to transactions on the Web site. Analytics treats it as a conversion event -- just as if the customer bought the products or services online.