Malls Now Tracking Cell Phone Signals for Marketing Data

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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Malls Now Tracking Cell Phone Signals for Marketing Data

Earlier this year there were several people concerned with how cellphones were tracking user locations, and now they'll be helping to collect data while you shop at the mall. The new technology is called Footpath and was developed by Path Intelligence in Portsmouth, England. The technology uses triangulation based on signal strength to track customer movements. This data is then collected and run through analytics by Path, which provide the data back to retailers through a secure website. CEO Sharon Biggar presented the technology at the ICSC Fusion conference in Los Angeles on March 31.

Biggar indicates that the data collected could benefit retailers by boosting their revenue. The tracking options include responses to mailers and other advertising that give the equivalent of web metrics like unique visitors or page impressions (measure how many walk past a display or advertisement. "Now we can produce heat maps of the mall and show advertisers where the premium locations are for their adverts," she said, "and perhaps more importantly we can price the advertising differently at each location." The Footpath software is currently being trailed in two malls by Forest City, which is a mall real estate company that owns malls nationwide. The trial malls are located in Promenade Temecula in Temecula, California, and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Virginia.

Forest City's senior vice president of marketing, Jane Lisey, indicated that the company wouldn't be collecting any personally identifiable information about shoppers. Information like your phone number is still going to be protected by the wireless carrier. "Before agreeing to test this technology it was essential to determine and guarantee that the personal information of our shoppers would be completely anonymous to all parties," she said. They also have the ability of taking things even further by using surveillance video and point-of-sale transaction information, which could give retailers a very detailed profile of who's carrying each phone. The ability to use facial recognition software could be used as "loss prevention", which allows the retailers to identify shoplifters. The facial recognition software isn't available currently because it's technically illegal and would require a warrant to monitor the device. 

Related Link:
Your iPhone is Tracking Your Location

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