Smartphone Tracking Data And Artificial Intelligence Turn People’s Movements Into Detailed Insights And Profits
2 July 2021
Not all businesses experienced a setback due to COVID-19. Cosmose AI, a company that uses machine learning to predict who will go shopping as well as when and where, plus measures the effectiveness of online ads to online and in-person store visits, expanded during the pandemic. Valued at $100 million after a Series A investment round by Tiga Investments, OTB Ventures, and TDJ Pitango, many retailers turned to the insights provided by Cosmose AI’s artificial intelligence-powered service to figure out how to best operate during the pandemic and prepare for a new future.
Insights for Retailers from Cosmose AI’s AI-Powered Platform
Founded in 2014, Cosmose AI gathers anonymized mobile phone data including user IDs, location info, and more from more than 1 billion smartphones, more than 400,000 apps, 360,000 stores and then shares insights about consumer behaviour with some of the world’s biggest brands, including Walmart, Gucci, Cartier, Budweiser, Tencent, L’Oreal, Samsung and Marriott. The company plans to extend its reach across Asia to 2 billion smartphones and 10 million stores by 2022. Cosmose AI’s platform doesn’t require the installation of specific hardware or beacons and works seamlessly with Google, Facebook, WeChat, and more.
Retailers receive accurate location info within 2 meters. Cosmose AI’s predictive shopping AI informs retailers about who will shop when and where they will go. According to the company, this AI delivers 73% accuracy for the beauty category. This insight helps retailers understand how many people visit brick-and-mortar store locations after seeing or clicking an ad online and also how to improve the customer experience, sales, and advertising strategies, and customer retention. Marketers had previously been able to track online ad effectiveness for online traffic, but now through Cosmose AI’s platform, they can realize insights for foot traffic as well.
These insights help retailers determine when to reopen stores post-pandemic, how to increase revenue, and even what inventory to stock. When COVID hit, it was important for retailers to find ways to connect with customers who historically shopped offline in stores to interest them in shopping online instead or to engage with a new market entirely. For example, when hoteliers in Japan found revenue dropping due to travel restrictions, they pivoted to promote their in-house restaurants to locals.
Machine Learning at the Foundation of Cosmose AI
Cosmose AI uses alphanumeric IDs called OMNIcookies—a technology that determines location based on WiFi signals. The algorithms can predict consumer behaviour within a seven-day time span, and the company is currently working to develop an improvement on that so it can predict across different time periods. The OMNIcookies technology allows Cosmose AI to gather consumer insights while still adhering to data privacy laws in the countries where it operates. It allows shoppers to opt-out of the tracking and does not collect personal data such as email addresses or mobile phone numbers.
There are other companies tracking foot traffic for retailers such as ShopperTrak and RetailNext, but they gather consumer’s personal data. The fact that Cosmose’s service is anonymous differentiates it from its competitors and was an appealing aspect to its investors.
Cosmose AI offers three AI products that support the retail, fashion, cosmetic and automotive industries. Cosmose Analytics helps retailers understand their customers’ offline shopping habits and learn how that compares to competitors on a scale and perspective not possible before (category, store, brand, etc.). Cosmose AI uses artificial neural networks to make predictions based on the past behaviour of a store’s consumers. It offers support to determine who should be marketed to for the best probability of achieving sales goals. Big data fuels these insights and allows for AI targeting of lookalike audiences for higher offline conversions. And finally, Cosmose Media can help retailers develop marketing, media, and advertising strategies that utilize the consumer behaviour insights gleaned by the AI algorithms.
All of this service is made possible in part by the data that’s collected from the 400,000 app partners that sell data to Cosmose AI. Often, users of these apps don’t realize their activity is being tracked when they use apps. While no personal data is transmitted, the reality that activity data is being purchased to then be used to market to those consumers is often overlooked in privacy policies full of legalese.
So, while a customer experience may be enhanced thanks to the AI insights Cosmose AI provides retailers and those consumers might appreciate the experience, many have no idea their data is being sold. Most people are willing to accept that some of our modern experiences and conveniences are made possible by this insight, but is there a limit?
Cosmose AI is betting their AI algorithms, and anonymized data collection will be accepted by consumers who might realize their actions are being tracked in exchange for the improved experience they receive. Would you?
If you would like to learn more about how AI is altering businesses and society, have a look at my new book ‘The Intelligence Revolution: Transforming Your Business With AI‘.
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