Microsoft partners to deliver ads on shopping carts

Microsoft has partnered to deliver personalized ads to shopping carts through its Atlas, Windows CE and SQL Server technologies.

A partnership unveiled this week between Microsoft, MediaCart Holdings and Wakefern Food will deliver personalized ads to grocery shoppers through computerized carts in the US. The initiative is yet another way that Microsoft aims to derive revenue from ads, even as it continues to struggle with Google to take more of the online advertising market.

MediaCarts have been tested for nine months by Wakefern in its ShopRite grocery stores and involve shopping carts with computerized screens that deliver ads and other information to shoppers based on their preferences, the companies said.

The carts log preference information from customer loyalty card programs that most grocery stores have. Customers scan their cards at the MediaCart and ads on the screen are delivered to them according to their buying history, the companies said. No personal information will be shared with Microsoft or advertisers through the MediaCarts, although advertisers will acquire reporting and analytics information about how the ads are performing in the stores.

Microsoft's technology is serving video ads to computers on the MediaCart screen through the Atlas technology, which Microsoft acquired through its purchase of aQuantive last year. The US$6 billion deal to purchase the digital marketing, advertising and creative agency is Microsoft's largest acquisition to date and was meant to bolster the company's plan to diversify its revenue so more comes from its ad business.

So far, Microsoft's advertising business has improved only incrementally, according to company financial reports, but it expects more significant growth this year.

In addition to ads, the MediaCarts also will provide information about where products are located in the store and give shoppers electronic coupons. Shoppers also can view store specials in the aisles in which they're shopping and total the cost of items in their carts before checking out through the technology, the companies said.

MediaCart also uses Microsoft Windows CE and Microsoft SQL Server software along with the Atlas ad-serving technology. MediaCart is expected to begin customer trials in ShopRite stores in the second half of this year.

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