On the internet, cookies are small data packages linked to websites which are stored in the user’s web browser. Every time the user opens up a particular website, its cookies will remember information about their browsing activity, recording such details as what was in their shopping cart and which parts of the website interested them.
Sponda’s physical cookies, which were developed by ad agency TBWA/Helsinki, extend this idea to the real world. The cookies are shaped like keychains and are carried around by the customer as they shop. Electronic readers placed in-store read the keychains as the customer passes by, collecting usage data which is then analysed before digital screens display relevant messages based on the data.
Sponda says there are no privacy issues with the physical cookie loyalty programme as customers do not have to sign up or register for anything: “Privacy is not a problem, because we don’t care who you are. We are only interested in your shopping behavior. This, we believe, is a game changer. Instead of sign ups and a wide range of cards, physical cookie offers a low opt-in loyalty system that makes marketing feel like a service.”
The devices were launched in the autumn of 2014 in a Helsinki mall. They were handed out for free and, the company claims, resulted in 21.7 percent more time spent by customers in the shopping centre.
Sponda has also put out a challenge to those using iBeacons. These Apple devices use Bluetooth to send notifications to the smartphones of shoppers who have chosen to participate.
“iBeacons are great at the moment when there are so few brands using them, but as the number of brands using the iBeacon grows, the push-messaging will become spam,” says Sponda. “Soon – if you keep your iBeacon functionality switched on – you’ll be spammed with messages.”