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Microsoft Helps Build Ad-Carrying, Smart Shopping Carts

The partnership with MediaCart Holdings and Wakefern Food means advertisers can deliver ads based on past purchases and a shopping list that could be uploaded from a home PC.

Microsoft, MediaCart Holdings, and Wakefern Food on Monday said they would test in the latter company's ShopRite supermarkets display-carrying shopping carts that deliver personalized advertising to shoppers.

The three partners announced plans for the pilot at the National Retail Federation's convention and expo in New York. Microsoft is supplying the video ad-serving software for the project, while MediaCart is building the grocery cart displays.

The idea behind the project is to deliver ads based on past purchases and a shopping list that could be uploaded from a home PC. Advertisers, on the other hand, would be able to reach consumers at the point where they make the decision whether to buy a product.

To activate the system, shoppers would swipe a store-issued card in the display. Customers would then receive ads and promotional offers as they travel the store. No personally identifiable information would be sent to Microsoft, MediaCart or advertisers. The latter, however, would be able to analyze aggregated purchase data and obtain reports in order to determine the effectiveness of ads.

In addition, the MediaCart displays would provide shoppers with electronic coupons, perform comparative price checks, show store specials, and provide recipes and nutritional information. Shoppers could also view items in their electronic shopping list presented in aisle order, and total the cost of items in their carts before checkout.

Wakefern chairman and chief executive Joseph Colalillo said the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States was hoping to provide customers with a "cutting-edge shopping experience, unmatched in the industry."

"This is an exciting step in our ongoing commitment to meet and exceed the needs of our shoppers and stores," Colalillo said in a statement. Wakefern has 200 ShopRite stores located in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Microsoft is providing software from its Atlas Division. In addition, the MediaCart system will include support from Microsoft's Windows CE and SQL Server. The trial is expected to begin in the second half of the year.

Microsoft's Atlas Division stems from the company's $6 billion acquisition last year of online advertising company aQuantive. An aQuantive subsidiary, Atlas makes software that delivers, manages and optimizes ad delivery.

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