Tesco mobile boss: ‘Ad retargeters do brands a disservice’

Tesco’s mobile experience director Luke Vinogradov says ad retargeting services are doing brands a ‘disservice’ by pushing products to customers they may have already bought.


Speaking on a panel discussion at the British Retail Consortium’s omnichannel retail conference in London this week, he dismissed retargeting as often irrelevant, saying that they frequently push products and services that customers have already pushed elsewhere, either online or in store.

“There are some retailers that follow me around everywhere I go. I have since purchased the products they push at me they just didn’t pick that up. [Ad retargeters] do the brands they are serving a great disservice every time they bug me about something I already own,” he said.

Vinogradov added there is no place for “irrelevant” communications, which can make customers feel overtargeted. He said Tesco is constantly testing the type and frequency of communications it sends out to analyse what works best.

“If you overmarket to customers they pull back. For irrelevant communications the right number to send out is zero. For relevant communications the right number can potentially be very high. Don’t ping me every day about something I only buy twice a year.”

For Tesco, much of the information it uses to target customers comes from data it holds via its Clubcard loyalty programme. However, Vinogradov said while “everything” that retailers are excited about in ecommerce is delivered by data, that is yet to be brought in-store, creating a disconnect between online and physical shopping experiences.

“Why should it be 2014 online and 1964 when you get in store?” he asked.

He added that Tesco, as part of plans to position itself for the future of retail, will roll out a new app to all its stores over the next 12 months that offers shoppers a window into its stores and helps them plan their shop.

It is also looking at ways to improve the experience for click-and-collect customers by using mobile. As the service becomes increasingly popular, many customers are finding they have to wait to pick up their orders, particularly at busy times such as first thing in the morning, at lunch time or after work.

Vinogradov said Tesco is looking “in the near future” at using mobile and location technology to improve that experience. He says stores could use “passive geolocation” to let a store know they are there via mobile and the store could let them know when their is order is ready to collect, leaving people free to browse, grab a coffee or take advantage of other services available in store.

“You don’t have to stand there and wait [for an order]. Our stores are places where commerce can go on while you’re waiting. And increasingly there are non-commerce experiences, such as casual dining. Why not come in and get other things done. We know you’re there so we can use that,” he said. 

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