The Contextual Ad Challenge

By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2005-02-16 Print this article Print

Fujitsu developed the U-Scan Shopper through a strategic alliance announced in 2004 with Salt Lake City-based Klever Marketing Inc., under which Fujitsu acquired Klevers non-U.S. patents, its software and certain rights in other related intellectual property for the U-Scan Shopper. The companies said that they will jointly market the product within the U.S., and Fujitsu will market the product outside the U.S. Klever will develop and manage the wireless, in-store advertising campaigns for retailers using the system. "Each marketing message reaches an individual consumer at the exact product location where industry research indicates more than 70 percent of all purchase decisions are made," Klever Marketing President and COO Bill Dupre said in a statement. "Klever Marketing believes that the one-to-one electronic communication capabilities of the U-Scan Shopper, its point-of-selection delivery and its patent portfolio provide a formidable first-position in which to control the in-store marketing space."
The systems core functionality includes the context-sensitive ads, which tout products based on the part of the store the cart is in. It can also alert the customers to any relevant specials. If the customer has a particular soup brand on their shopping list, it can flash an alert—just as the customer is about to enter the soup aisle—that a competing brand is $2 off today-only and then run a short commercial about that brand. What is the next-generation of smart carts promising? To find out, click here. The CRM component of the system takes advantages of the systems timestamps that coordinate with those 60 or so infrared devices. It understands—in theory—whether the cart is zipping through aisle nine on the way to aisle 12 or if the timestamps indicate that it is slowly looking at products or has fully stopped in front of dog food. The U-Scan Shopper has a menu option that does nothing other than list store specials for that day, along with a menu listing tons of recipes, which all have the ability to automatically amend the shopping list. The systems ability to know where items are located is based partly on the store-provided map, but it also "learns" when items have been moved by noting the collective behavior of customers. For example, if the system thinks that shampoo is in aisle 10, but suddenly notes that 28 customers this morning have scanned shampoo in the middle of aisle 8, it will update its internal map. But what the Fujitsu system does next is based on the retailers customization. Those product relocations are sometimes not what the stores general manager wanted. The system can send a message to store management when it detects an unexpected relocation. "Some retailers want to be alerted or they may want it to just dynamically change the map" and not message them, Slack said. Fujitsu officials say the next upgrade of U-Scan Shopper will likely include integration with chain-wide store inventories, so that the cart and/or the Web site can alert a customer that their favorite store is out of two items on the customers list but that those items are available at another store in the chain, five miles away. Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.

Evan Schuman is the editor of's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at

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