Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Know Where You Live, We Know Where You Shop; ADVERTISING & MARKETING

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Know Where You Live, We Know Where You Shop; ADVERTISING & MARKETING

Article excerpt

Byline: Gideon Spanier

HOW much are consumers willing to share with a company or brand about their life and personal behaviour? There can be few more pressing questions for advertisers and marketeers as they rush to target consumers on the internet.

The problem is that the marketeer's dream -- knowing where you live and shop -- can seem alarmingly like a Big Brother civil liberties nightmare.

Most websites can already track consumers' habits using their computer history, which means that companies can offer targeted advertising based on past interests. Google has built much of its success this way.

But the possibilities are almost limitless if users are willing to hand over some personal details.

So the search-and-advertising internet firm Yahoo and Nectar, Britain's biggest shopping loyalty card, are hoping that they can win over advertisers and consumers alike with their new joint service, called Consumer Connect.

The idea is to draw on the UK databases of both companies to offer targeted online advertising, directly based on consumers' purchases "offline" -- in other words, in shops.

Yahoo claimed this is a first for the UK, when it launched Consumer Connect on Friday. Only registered users of Yahoo services (such as its email) who are also one of Britain's 16.8 million Nectar cardholders are involved.

First, each customer must agree to allow the two companies to use their data -- in return for extra Nectar card points, which can be exchanged for goods with participating firms such as Sainsburys and BP. Some 20,000 people have so far agreed on the understanding that their information is used anonymously, before it is analysed.

Then Yahoo extrapolates the data from this 20,000-strong panel to offer more accurate advertising for its millions of users, based on likely demographic and spending patterns.

"That's what allows the campaign to have scale," says Mark Rade, managing director of Yahoo UK and Ireland. "You can go in very finely against different [demographic] segments or against very broad categories."

Rade is particularly keen to appeal to FMCGs -- fast-moving consumer goods brands such as shampoo and cleaning products. They have been slower to embrace the web than, say, travel or finance brands which have found it easier to get a direct response from online consumers.

Yahoo and Nectar say FMCG advertisers should be able to track subsequent purchasing offline, refine the message further, and demonstrate a return on investment. There should be benefits for consumers too, if they see more relevant ads as a result.

Yahoo already runs a similar service in the US, in partnership with Nielsen, and says purchases increased 50% as a result. Cadbury is the first advertiser to use Consumer Connect in the UK, in a campaign devised by agency PHD, which is running until Easter. …

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