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April 4, 2014

Ad Specialists Join Forces to Leverage Customer Data

George Leopold

London-based Dunnhumby Ltd., an online advertising specialist owned by U.K. retailer Tesco, said this week it will acquire Sociomantic Labs GmbH of Berlin, a developer of intelligent digital advertising technology.

The acquisition is seen as another move by Tesco into big data. Among the world’s largest retailers, Tesco has for several years been collecting customer data via store loyalty cards and online purchases.

E-commerce specialist Sociomantic Labs focuses on targeted and programming advertising. The deal would give Tesco access to Sociomantic’s database of 700 million online customers, Dunhumby officials stressed.

“Our strategic priority is to engage consumers and earn their loyalty wherever they shop, in-store and online, with personalized communications that are valuable and meaningful,” Simon Hay, CEO of Dunnhumby Ltd., said in a statement.

The German digital advertising firm employs more than 200 people in 16 offices around the world. Sociomantic’s revenues topped $100 million in 2013, the company said. Along with retailers, it has worked with electronics vendors and travel services.

Customer loyalty cards have proven to be one of the biggest drivers of big data for retailers. Dunnhumby claims to have “reinvented” the grocery store loyalty card for Tesco. The retailer’s loyalty program is said to have an estimated 400 customers around the world.

The deal with Sociomantic will seek to leverage this huge customer database to improve the targeting of digital advertising directed at a growing number of online customers, the partners said.

Dunnhumby has reportedly developed loyalty card programs for other retailers like Krogers and Macy’s along with major brands like Coca-Cola.

In an April 3 blog post, Dunnhumby CEO Hay said: “We have decided to buy the company because the combination of Sociomantic’s technological capability and Dunnhumby’s insight into 430 [million] shoppers worldwide will create a new opportunity to make the online experience a lot better, because for the first time we will be able to make online content personalized for [consumers], based on what they actually like, want and need.”