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Loblaw pilots more personalized advertising

Loyalty members see relevant ads while browsing online or using social media

Loblaw Cos. is testing a new service that leverages its PC Optimum loyalty program to personalize advertising for customers and reward them for seeing those ads while browsing online.

Currently with more than 18 million members, PC Optimum has provided product offers and ads to shoppers via Loblaw online channels and email based on their previous purchases in the retailer’s store network. Now, Loblaw said, this approach will be used to deliver more relevant ads from trusted consumer-brand advertisers as members browse the Internet or use social media — that is, in places where they already see ads.

Plans call for Loblaw to pilot the new service with a group of selected members, providing them with an easy way to earn additional points, the Brampton, Ontario-based food and drug retailer said. PC Optimum provides more than $1 billion in rewards annually.

"Loyalty programs have historically provided benefits to customers, rewarding them for the information they provide to a company. We're extending that same idea to advertising," according to Uwe Stueckmann, senior vice president of marketing at Loblaw. “Our members will see more relevant ads while browsing online, and we will reward them for allowing us to use their data and advertise to them."  

Loblaw noted that the service will be transparent, and customers will have control over how their personal information is used. The company said shoppers will be informed of the plan to serve them online ads on behalf of a trusted advertiser, and the ads will feature an identifying mark or logo associated with PC Optimum. PC Optimum members will receive points when they are included in these ad campaigns, and they can opt out of receiving this advertising at any time.

Today, Canadians surfing the web routinely see thousands of ads, many of which are directed to them based on their online information and activities — a process that’s mostly invisible, Loblaw pointed out.

"This isn't about seeing more ads. By informing, signaling and rewarding customers we are giving them a choice. They can start getting relevant ads with actual rewards, or they can opt out and just get the ads they already see online today," Stueckmann explained. "This is an exciting trial that could very well change the landscape in favor of customers. Imagine if every Canadian was rewarded for every ad they saw online."

Loblaw added that it will conduct and measure the ad campaigns without selling or providing customers’ personal data to advertisers.  

Overall, Loblaw’s retail network includes 550 corporate-owned supermarkets under multiple banners, 1,337 associate-owned Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix drug stores and 535 franchised grocery stores.

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