Tesco taps into telecoms firms' customer data to improve mobile targeting

Weve: teams up with Tesco
Weve: teams up with Tesco

Tesco is among the first brands to trial Weve's mobile display ad service that uses anonymised data from telecoms firms to circumvent problems caused by the lack of cookies on mobile.

The trial by Weve, a joint venture between O2, EE and Vodafone, launches this morning (29 January) and aims to eliminate the wasted spend that currently happens on mobile due to the lack of verified data on who the user is.

Sean O’Connell, director of product at Weve, claims rival services require advertisers to "pray and spray" when advertising on mobile because they are unsure of the profile of the mobile user.

Cookies cannot be used on mobile to track user behaviour in the same way they are used on desktop computers due to the fragmentation across the mobile web and the inability to embed cookies in mobile apps.

Advertisers are instead reliant on building a profile of the mobile user based on different probabilities such as whether they play the Candy Crush game and therefore more likely to be female.

Weve’s access to data on around 20 million opted-in customers on EE, O2 and Vodafone means Weve can provide more "accurate" mobile display ad targeting, argues O’Connell.

Tesco’s trial of Weve will give it access to anonymised EE, O2 and Vodafone data including the age, gender and location of users.

The Weve data is also able to predict the social grade of the user by comparing it against third party data held by research groups including Kantar.

Tesco is able to access three types of location data through Weve, including the home location, where the user works and real-time location.

The home location is ascertained through the user’s postcode, while the work location is determined through the extrapolation of "habitual" data such as where a person is between nine to five. Real-time location data will require user-permission.

Tesco would not divulge specifics about what its mobile display campaign on Weve will entail.

However, a supermarket would be able to use Weve’s services to define a catchment area near a store, identify the audience within the area and target the likely decision maker in a household using data on the age and sex of the mobile user.

Brands will also be able to use customers' phone numbers to target mobile display advertising by anonymously matching the phone numbers they have against the data sets held by Weve.

This would enable brands to run mobile display acquisition campaigns by using mobile phone numbers on their database to ensure they do not target pre-existing customers.

Weve claims it is "leading the market" when it comes to privacy by going above and beyond government requirements because each display ad will give the customer the option of opting out of the service.

Ads will also only appear on sites pre-approved by Operation Trade Bridge, an organisation set up by the police to clamp down on piracy.

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