Foot traffic is the new web traffic.
Tech companies have become expert at analysing consumer shopping patterns on websites. But the next frontier is observing how people shop in old-fashioned brick-and-mortar retail stores, and a growing number of companies, from startups to giants like Facebook, are tackling the problem.
On Wednesday, xAd unveiled a new service that tracks foot traffic to real world stores and serves up the information to businesses through an online dashboard.
The company can tell when consumers walk into individual stores thanks to partnerships it has struck with more than 100,000 smartphone apps. The apps relay GPS location information, which xAd aggregates and makes anonymous to measure and analyse who is shopping at different stores. (xAd says it works with its app partners to ensure that all the location data it collects is done with the necessary permissions from users.)
The new service, called MarketPlace Discover, has been tested by Taco Bell and several other major brands, according to the company.
Facebook is also looking to bridge the gap between offline shopping and its trove of ad-targeting data. On Tuesday the company announced new features to let retailers provide maps to their stores within the ads that appear on the social network. Facebook will also be able to measure the number of people who actually visit the stores using its location features.