Tesco the Tech Company…?

In passing, a handful of things that recently caught my eye on Nick Lansley’s Tech for Tesco blog:

Tesco Freeview experiment: apparently, “Tesco.com R&D has been given access to a 32kbps [broadcast] digital stream …” So? Nick Lansley explains further:

[M]ost Freeview set-top boxes can see a “Channel Zero” on channel 306 (multiplex C) but most set-top boxes can’t pick up (or indeed understand) the information contained in it. The [Tesco Technika or Dion branded box[es] with ‘Channel Zero’] … can read the content of this channel – it’s this channel I have been given access as a conduit to delivering content.

I can imagine getting marketing to sponsor a cookery show and allow compatible set-top box (or TV) users to get the ingredients listed on the screen at the push of a button and they use the remote control to quickly add one or more of them to their online grocery basket without getting in the way of the watching the show. Importantly, this would work whether the show is being watched live or played back via PVR (on future PVR-enabled boxes).

Interesting…. And also interesting to see how this compares with the pretensions of a “global online university” that has had a “close” relationship (i.e. gives them cash) with the BBC for years… ;-)
(Just by the by, I’m also reminded that Tesco has started producing straight to DVD films for sale exclusively in Tesco Stores (Tesco goes to Trolleywood), and wonder: will Channel 0 stream video trailers too…?!;-)

How to make “Sat-nav” work inside a Tesco Store: over recent months, folk at several HEIs have started mulling over the notion of on-campus location services (e.g. to my knowledge at least: @stuartbrown and @liamgh at the OU, @alexbilbie at Lincoln; any others?). Once you get indoors, there’s a problem though, because GPS doesn’t work when line of sight is lost to the satellites… which makes indoor use difficult… One alternative is to use wifi triangulation, detecting the relative signal strengths of various wifi hotspots whose location you know, and calculating location based on that.

TEsco - wifi hotspot triangulation

Which is what this post describes, along with several example use cases. (Again, just by the by, I notice Tesco previously has a patent in the wifi area: PERFORMANCE ENHANCING WIRELESS NETWORK CONFIGURATION). Of course, if your phone knows where you are, then so does the Tesco App. But then again, in shopping centre localisation/shopper tracking is old news (old Sunday Times article: Shops track customers via mobile phone).

– QR Codes are all the rage at the moment, aren’t they? As for example, QR codes now appearing on Tesco print ads, as are on-phone barcode canners (which make it easy to add things to your shopping list when you’re at home or possibly also take things off your shopping list once you add them to your basket in store…) Of course, QR codes are just one integration point between the physical world and the digital:

Tesco mobile

– SMS is pretty much universal, whereas smartphones aren’t. Here’s an example for a link request using SMS: Search the Tesco Recipe site using an SMS text message. How does it work?

– Type ‘COOK’ followed by two or three of the key ingredients you have observed.
– Send the message to 83726 – that’s “TESCO” spelt out on your phone’s keyboard.

and get a link back to a URL on the Tesco recipe site for a recipe containing those ingredients. All that’s needed for a full SMS round trip is a collection of tiny recipes, such as those published by @cookbook… (e.g. as described in this New York Times article: Take 1 Recipe, Mince, Reduce, Serve)

It’s easy for the online echo chamber to focus in on what Facebook and Google are up to… But don’t forget the real world… there’s a huge potential for evil there too…!;-)

So When Will We Start to See Live BIllboard Ads in Streetview?

Via this Google Maps Mania post, I see that a couple of views of the same spot in Google Streetview show slightly different things?

Spot the difference

Here are the URLs, just in case you;re wondering, with the differences marked…



This reminded me of the patent announced earlier this year relating to the placement of live ads on billboards within in Google Streetview (Google Plans to Upgrade Old Billboards in Street View), something that already happens in many console based computer games (e.g. using the services of companies such as Massive Incorporated).

(By the by, Google already offers an in-game advertising product for web based games…)

A little while ago, Google mailed out window stickers to shops that included a QR code, so that people with smart phones could easily pop up a web page for that store….

Google Place QR code

So what happens next time the StreetView car passes by? Could the Goog detect the QR code from the Streetview image and mesh things together just a little bit more? After all, if in-game advertising is as effective as it seems to be, “subliminal” advertising in StreetView is probably also worth a punt.

With AR tools ten a penny now, it should also be easy enough to detect things like in-window QR codes, and use these to key adverts on nearby “live billboards”?

PS and finally: who knew that a shopping app could act as a vector for getting supermarket advertising into schools? Survive an earthquake with Tesco Finder

Situated Video Advertising With Tesco Screens

In 2004, Tesco launched an in-store video service under the name Tesco TV as part of its Digital Retail Network service. The original service is described in TESCO taps into the power of satellite broadband to create a state-of-the-art “Digital Retail Network” and is well worth a read. A satellite delivery service provided “news and entertainment, as well as promotional information on both TESCO’s own products and suppliers’ branded products” that was displayed on video screens around the store.
In order to make content as relevant as possible (i.e. to maximise the chances of it influencing a purchase decision;-), the content was zoned:

Up to eight different channels are available on TESCO TV, each channel specifically intended for a particular zone of the store. The screens in the Counters area, for instance, display different content from the screens in the Wines and Spirits area. The latest music videos are shown in the Home Entertainment department and Health & Beauty has its own channel, too. In the Cafe, customers can relax watching the latest news, sports clips, and other entertainment programs.

I’d have loved to have seen the control room:

Remote control from a central location of which content is played on each screen, at each store, in each zone, is an absolute necessity. One reason is that advertisers are only obligated to pay for their advertisements if they are shown in the contracted zones and at the contracted times.

In parallel to the large multimedia files, smaller files with the scripts and programming information are sent to all branches simultaneously or separately, depending on what is required. These scripts are available per channel and define which content is played on which screen at which time. Of course, it is possible to make real-time changes to the schedule enabling TESCO to react within minutes, if required.

In 2006, dunnhumby, the company that runs the Tesco Clubcard service and that probably knows more about your shopping habits at Tesco than you do, won the ad sales contract for Tesco TV’s “5,000 LCD and plasma screens across 100 Tesco Superstores and Extra outlets”. Since then, it has “redeveloped the network to make it more targeted, so that it complements in-store marketing and ties in with above-the-line campaigns”, renaming Tesco TV as Tesco Screens in 2007 as part of that effort (Dunnhumby expands Tesco TV content, dunnhumby relaunches Tesco in-store TV screens). Apparently, “[a]ll campaigns on Tesco Screens are analysed with a bespoke control group using EPOS and Clubcard data.” (If you’ve read any of my previous posts on the topic (e.g. The Tesco Data Business (Notes on “Scoring Points”) or ) you’ll know that dunnhumby excels at customer profiling and targeting.)

Now I don’t know about you, but dunnhumby’s apparent reach and ability to influence millions of shoppers at points of weakness is starting to scare me…(as well as hugely impressing me;-)

On a related note, it’s not just Tesco that use video screen advertising, of course. In Video, Video, Everywhere…, for example, I described how video advertising has now started appearing throughout the London Underground network.

So with the growth of video advertising, it’s maybe not so surprising that Joel Hopwood, one of the management team behind Tesco Screens Retail Media Group should strike out with a start-up: Capture Marketing.

[Capture Marketing] may well be the first agency in the UK to specialise in planning, buying and optimising Retail Media across all retailers – independent of any retailer or media owner!!

They aim to buy from the likes of dunnhumby, JCDecaux, Sainsbury, Asda Media Centre etc in order to give clients a single, independent and authoritative buying and planning point for the whole sector. [DailyDOOH: What On Earth Is Shopper Marketing?]

So what’s the PR strapline for Capture Marketing? “Turning insight into influence”.

If you step back and look at our marketing mix across most of the major brands, it’s clearly shifting, and it’s shifting to in-store, to the internet and to trial activity.
So what’s the answer? Marketing to shoppers. We’ll help you get your message to the consumer when they’re in that crucial zone, after they’ve become a shopper, but before they’ve made a choice. We’ll help you take your campaign not just outside the home, but into the store. Using a wide range of media vehicles, from digital screens to web favourite interrupts to targeted coupons, retail media is immediate, proximate, effective and measurable.

I have no idea where any of this is going… Do you? Could it shift towards making use of VRM (“vendor relationship management”) content, in which customers are able to call up content they desire to help they make a purchase decision (such as price, quality, or nutrition information comparisons?). After all, scanner apps are already starting to appear on Android phones (e.g. ShopSavvy) and the iPhone (Snappr), not to mention the ability to recognise books from their cover or music from the sound of it (The Future of Search is Already Here).

PS Just by the by, here’s some thoughts about how Tesco might make use of SMS:

PPS for a quick A-Z of all you need to know to start bluffing about video based advertising, see Billboards and Beyond: The A-Z of Digital Screens.

More Remarks on the Tesco Data Play

A little while ago, I posted some notes I’d made whilst reading “Scoring Points”, which looked at the way Tesco developed it’s ClubCard business and started using consumer data to improve a whole range of operational and marketing functions within the tesco operation (The Tesco Data Business (Notes on “Scoring Points”)). For anyone who’s interested, here are a few more things I managed to dig up Tesco’s data play, and their relationship with Dunnhumby, who operate the service.

[UPDATE – most of the images were removed from this post because I got a take down notice from Dunnhumby’s lawyers in the US…]

Firstly, here’s a couple of snippets from a presentation by Giles Pavey, Head of Analysis at dunnhumby, presented earlier this year. The first thing to grab me was this slide summarisign how to turn data into insight, and then $$$s (the desired result of changing customer behaviour from less, to more profitable!):

In the previous post, I mentioned how Tesco segment shoppers according to their “lifestyle profile”. This is generated by looking at the data generated by a shopper, in terms of what they buy, when they buy it, what stories you can tell about them as a result.

So how well does Tesco know you, for example?

(I assume Tesco knows Miss Jones drives to Tesco on a Saturday because she uses her Clubcard when topping up on fuel at the Tesco petrol station…).

Clustering shopped for items in an appropriate way lets Tesco identify the “Lifestyle DNA” of each shopper:

(If you self-categorise according to those meaningful sounding lifestyle categories, I wonder how well it would match the profile Tesco has allocated to you?!)

It’s quite interesting to see what other players in the area think is important, too. One way of doing this is to have a look around at who else is speaking at the trade events Giles Pavey turns up at. For example, earlier this year was a day of impressive looking talks at The Business Applications of Marketing Analytics.

Not sure what “Marketing Analytics” are? Maybe you need to become a Master of Marketing Analysis to find out?! Here’s what appears to be involved:

The course website also features an interview with three members of dunnhumby: Orlando Machado (Head of Insight Analysis), Martin Hayward (Director of Strategy) and Giles Pavey (head of Customer Insight) [view it here].

You can see/hear a couple more takes on dunnhumby here:
Martin Hayward, Director of Consumer Strategy and Futures at dunnhumby on the growth of dunnhumby;
Life as an “intern” at dunnhumby.

And here’s another event that dunnhumby presented at: The Future of Geodemographics – 21st Century datasets and dynamic segmentation: New methods of classifying areas and individuals. Although the dunnhumby presentation isn’t available for download, several others are. I may try to pull out some gems from them in a later post, but in the meantime, here are some titles to try to tease you into clicking through and maybe pulling out the nuggets, and adding them as comments to this post, yourself:
Understanding People on the Move in London (I/m guessing this means “Oyster card tracking”?!);
Geodemographics and Privacy (something we should all be taking an interest in?);
Real Time Geodemographics – New Services and Business Opportunities from Analysing People in Time and Space: real-time? Maybe this ties in with things like behavioural analytics and localised mobile phone tracking in shopping centres?

So what are “geodemographics: (or “geodems”, as they’re known in the trade;-)? No idea – but I’m guessing it’s the demographics of a particular locales?

Here’s one of the reasons why Tesco are interested, anyway:

An finally (for now at least…) it seems that Tesco and dunnhumby may be looking for additional ways of using Clubcard data, in particular for targeted advertising:

Tesco is working with Dunnhumby, the marketing group behind Tesco Clubcard, to integrate highly targeted third-party advertising across Tesco.com when the company’s new-look site launches next year.
Jean-Pierre Van Lin, head of markets at Dunnhumby, explained to NMA that, once a Clubcard holder had logged in to the website, data from their previous spending could be used to select advertising of specific relevance to that user.
[Ref: Tesco.com to use Clubcard data to target third-party advertising (thanks, Ben:-)]

Now I’m guessing that this will represent a change in the way the data has been used to date – so I wonder, have Tesco ClubCard Terms and Conditions changed recently?

Looking at the global reach of dunnhumby, I wonder whether they’re building capacity for a global targeted ad service, via the back door?

Does it matter, anyway, if profiling data from our offline shopping habits are reconciled with our online presence?

In “Diving for Data”, (Supermarket News, 00395803, 9/26/2005, Vol. 53, Issue 39), Lucia Moses reports that the Tesco Clucbcard in the UK “boasts 10 million households and captures 85% of weekly store sales”, along with 30% of UK food sales. The story in the US could soon be similar, where dunnhumby works with Kroger to analyse “6.5 million top shopper households”, (identified as the “slice of the total 42 million households that visit Kroger stores that drive more than 50% of sales”). With “Kroger claim[ing] that 40% of U.S. households hold one of its cards”, does dunnhumby’s “goal … to understand the customer better than anyone” rival Google in its potential for evil?!