Physical Stores May Resemble Our Newsfeeds in the Near Future

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We’re currently living in a time of unprecedented change in the marketing and advertising industries. One of the most interesting emerging trends is the incorporation of new advertising opportunities within physical stores, in ways that will remind you of your social media newsfeeds.

If you’re a member of Generation X, or even an older Millennial, you probably remember walking through the aisles in grocery stores and grabbing coupons out of plastic dispensers. What we will see occurring in the future is the 21st Century’s version of the coupon machine — the personalized newsfeed-ification of physical stores.

Technology Companies are Infiltrating Retail Brands

With increasing frequency, big brands are purchasing analytics and marketing technology companies.

One such purchase to hit the news was Nike’s acquisition of Celect. Celect is a predictive analytics platform that helps retailers optimize inventories — Nike will probably use Celect’s capabilities to predictively optimize the inventory of their physical stores. 

To add to that, earlier this year Walmart announced its purchase of Polymorph Labs, an ad-tech startup offering an end-to-end custom ad infrastructure and related tools. This acquisition is noteworthy not only for what it will offer the company digitally but also for what it can offer the company physically.

The same benefits that Polymorph’s technologies offer Walmart’s digital ad sales can also go toward physical ad sales, which brings us back to the paper coupon machines of the 21st Century. Walmart is planning a network of in-store digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) screens, and its own ad network to power it. Not only can Walmart now more effectively sell digital ads, but they’ve also laid the groundwork for a very valuable digital place-based network.

This has important implications for the ad industry, as it essentially opens up a whole new in-store experience — especially when location intelligence is included in the equation. For example, ads can be curated in real time based on the audiences that frequent the store, instead of the store’s location on the map. Location intelligence technologies can show a brand not only who visits their stores but also their brand loyalty, preferences, exclusivity, and more — important factors that come into play and can be used to enhance each visit with custom experiences. 

Pair that detailed level of audience insights with brand-owned, in-house, digital place-based networks, and that value for ad buyers should be crystal clear. If the data shows that, for example, Nike fans had an affinity for shopping at Walmart locations, Nike would be smart to purchase ads in Walmart’s digital place-based network; Applebees could build their own in-restaurant network and offer space to local movie theaters.

Transforming Stores into Multimedia Spaces

For brands, the benefits of building physical advertising networks in their stores is compounded when you consider the shopping preferences of Generation Z.

Members of Gen Z are beginning to graduate college, enter the workforce, and come into their own as a major purchasing power. And they show a few key shopping habits that are contrary to the generations before them: Most notably, they prefer the tactile experience of shopping in-store.

When we say that aisles in physical stores may soon begin to resemble our newsfeeds, it’s not simply a resigned “social media is taking over our lives” attitude. Rather, it’s a reflection on the way that emerging technologies, like brand-owned ad networks and location intelligence, interact with the shopping preferences of a new type of consumer: one that expects experiences from the digital and physical worlds to blend together to offer a seamless, cross-platform, curated, and customized experience. 

Ran Ben-Yair is Co-Founder and CEO of Ubimo.