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Pret a Manger, Upper Crust and WHSmith see exciting levels of redemption of specially targeted ads in transport hubs

Zipabout: ethical ad targeting

Pret a Manger, SSP and WHSmith have all seen an impressive 25% redemption rate from personalised, vouchers pinged to travelers’ phones as they pass through bus and railway stations in a trial of a new system of targeting consumers based on how they access travel information.

The service – which is GDPR compliant – uses ‘prescience technology’ from a company called Zipabout, which reliably and ethically predicts where people will be through their interactions with transport information. Zipabout can add the physical location to contextual advertising without intrusive tracking or sharing of that location with third parties.

Working with marketing tech company Eagle Eye, the system uses the latter’s AIR platform to allow seamless in-store redemption of offers.

The launch follows successful trials with retail groups Pret A Manger, SSP and WHSmith, in which redemption rates for personalized vouchers sent to rail and bus passengers hit 25%, compared to display advertising redemption averages of 1.2% for Google Display and 3.7% for Facebook.

Zipabout powers National Rail Enquiries’ Alert Me service – providing passengers with real-time, personalised journey updates, including details of real-time disruption and alternative travel routes. In recent trials, retail brands owned by SSP such as Upper Crust, as well as WHSmith, used Zipabout’s Loyalty and Rewards feature to send passengers redeemable rewards in real-time at various outlets located in rail stations via Alert Me.

Alert Me users who either travelled frequently, experienced a delay, or decided to take a less busy train could claim a redeemable voucher. For instance, users who chose to travel on a quieter service from Brighton to London Victoria station were sent a ‘thank you’ message that offered either a free breakfast roll or bottle of water at Upper Crust. At the end of their journey, they received a unique QR code and directions to the store where they had up to one hour to redeem it.

Results were good. More than 1,000 vouchers were issued in August and September, based on triggers such as train delays or travelling multiple times on the train in a month, and conversion rates were up to 25% on average with even higher spikes in some locations, such as London Bridge. Participating stores were in train stations in 12 cities, including London, Manchester, Plymouth, Glasgow, Birmingham, and Liverpool.

The retailer only pays on redemption, making it a cost-effective way to acquire new customers. They can also see how many people who received a voucher agreed to use it (the passenger has to click ‘Get my voucher’ to receive one), and what the redeemable conversion rate was. It enabled the retailers to engage with a local audience exactly when they wanted to hear from them without any of the traditional barriers or intrusive technology.

“Passenger numbers plummeted during the pandemic and transport operators and retailers operating in or close to stations rely on heavy footfall. They are trying to incentivise people to use public transport again,” says Alex Froom, CEO of Zipabout. “Retailers are trying to rebuild customer habits like buying drinks and snacks on the go as they travel, and marketers want to be able to measure how users exposed to their messaging are interacting with their content. This is the future of ethical advertising as no other company globally has the technical capabilities for this approach.”

Al Henderson, Chief Sales Officer of Eagle Eye, adds: “We are excited to be part of this ground-breaking service and believe that this is a real game-changer for the advertising industry. This service demonstrates how first-party data can be used by retailers to engage with consumers in real-time. At Eagle Eye, we call this marketing in the moment.”

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