Microsoft Testing Ads On Shopping Carts

If you buy groceries at ShopRite, you might start seeing special shopping carts with little monitors attached later this year, when Microsoft and MediaCart roll out a new loyalty program that tracks shoppers’ purchases and displays targeted advertising while they shop. Ostensibly, the monitors will also provide useful information, such as the location of products within the store, access to recipes, and personalized shopping lists. We’ll be curious to see whether any of these services are actually implemented in a useful way or are just used to disguise the advertising.

“Microsoft Helps Put Ads on Computerized Shopping Carts” [PC World]
“Microsoft Helps Build Ad-Carrying, Smart Shopping Carts” [InformationWeek]

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  1. visualbowler says:

    The stop & shop chain near me has handheld scanners which let you scan and bag your groceries while you shop, and tell you about sales of products near where you are based on RFID technology which isn’t intrusive. I have a feeling that knowing Microsoft, this will be intrusive and annoying.

  2. RvLeshrac says:

    @visualbowler:

    How will it be “intrusive” and “annoying”? Is it going to lock the wheels of the cart?

  3. dirtleg says:

    Unless they chain them to the store, kids will be stealing the carts pronto. Hell, forty years ago we used to swipe shopping carts just for the wheels.

    I expect the whole experiment will disappear before summer, or sooner if all the carts disappear first.

  4. laserjobs says:

    Hope these things don’t break to easy. I have a tendancy to be exceptionally hard on things that annoy me.

  5. humphrmi says:

    If it includes sound (which the article doesn’t say one way or the other) I can see it being annoying. If it’s silent, then fine, I can probably ignore it. I don’t really see intrusive either, I’m quite certain that it won’t perform a rectal exam on me against my wishes ([consumerist.com]) :)

  6. overbysara says:

    aren’t you already SURROUNDED by ads at the grocery store? I mean really… more noise on the pile.

  7. yeah, I enjoy purchasing tampons! this “buy 2 get one free” coupon doesn’t expire until 02/01/2011!

    Thank you very much

    (you’re welcome AG((

  8. lhm says:

    Why not simply put a bag over it?

    Put a bag over all of them in a line as they sit in the parking lot. Tie ‘em tight. Who’s going to bother taking them off? Not the underpaid cash register guys.

    And why can’t homeless people pry off the electronics?-sell ‘em.

    Where’s your imagination, folk? This is achin’ for some civil disobedience.

  9. Myotheralt says:

    @RvLeshrac: (Cancel) or (Allow)

  10. BlondeGrlz says:

    @dirtleg: My vandalism days were much more reccent that 40 years ago. In fact, my first thought was “duuuuuude this would be fun to steal!” These won’t last a week. And um, I am not 15.

  11. meneye says:

    sigh. it is obvious to me that unless they have an employee tracking each cart, the store will have zero carts in no time.

  12. laserjobs says:

    I can just see trying to remove it from the cart a voice starts up “Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?”

  13. MercuryPDX says:

    @blondegrlz: I’m guessing much like they have those carts whose wheels lock up past 100ft. from the store, the computer won’t work either.

    @myotheralt: Here’s to hoping Clippy makes a comeback. “I notice you are debating which brand of coffee to buy…. would you like some help?”

  14. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    How long do you bet before the 1st bluescreen occurs?

  15. BlondeGrlz says:

    @Mercurypdx: Traffic cones didn’t do me much good in my garage either. Didn’t hurt the appeal of stealing them much.

  16. SpaceCat85 says:

    Argh, more ads. I don’t mind more traditional in-store ads like the printed ones stuck at the front of carts or the coupon dispensers they stick along the aisles (all static and relatively low-key), but things like the TVs showing ads at each checkout line (and now this) are annoying and unavoidable. Unfortunately, all of the new/renovated supermarkets within a reasonable driving distance from my house are doing this type of thing now, so switching from ShopRite to Acme for instance won’t improve things.

    It’s the real-life equivalent of obnoxious Flash banners that are continually trying to grab your attention while you’re trying to read an article–or, in this case, comparison shop.

  17. Sherryness says:

    People already stand around blocking whole aisles while they text or dig in their purse for a recipe. Can you see them perusing the little computer on the shopping cart looking for a recipe or looking up where the artichoke hearts are? Standing right in the middle of the aisle or blocking my access to the Cinnamon Life cereal? Now THAT will be annoying.

  18. karmaghost says:

    how are these going to stack? If they don’t stack like typical karts do, then why are they designed like typical karts? They won’t survive very long; although I’m sure they’ve thought of how to expand their lifetime, never underestimate the negligence of certain types of customers.

  19. Onouris says:

    So… many… adverts.

    I dread the day the UK is as bad for adverts as the US is.

  20. PICKLES_IN_MY_TUNA says:

    So how is my kid supposed to catch a ride on that end of the cart with that thing in the way?

  21. humphrmi says:

    @PICKLES_IN_MY_TUNA: How old is your kid? Mine’s ten. Do you think a flimsy LCD display is going to get in the way of his fun?

  22. MercuryPDX says:

    @blondegrlz: Road and street signs are at least decorative. Although a friend of mine trained his dog to potty in a certain spot in the yard with a traffic cone.

  23. This reminds me of the Wal-Mart I was in today. They had LCD screens at all of the registers playing commercials. It made me wonder how much extra they were getting paid to have ads at the front of the store in addition to all over the store and on every tv in electronics.

    @blondegrlz: Ah, you must be a college student. I remember waking up in my dorm room going, “Why the fuck do we have a traffic cone in our room?” with me being the reason why we had a traffic cone in our room. At the end of the semester, our window above the dumpster ended up being a convenient location when we had to get rid of any traffic cones, signs, hubcaps, and whatever else we stole without trying to sneak it out the lobby during the middle of the day.

  24. FLConsumer says:

    Ooooh… I can’t wait to hack this thing. If it’s MS, it shouldn’t be hard to do. Think of all the fun things you can put “On sale.” Sure, your common grocery store might not have some of the items I’d be putting on the screen, but it’d be a hell of a lot of fun.

  25. smitty1123 says:

    Baskets FTW.

  26. jwissick says:

    If I found someone removed this from the store and left it on the sidewalk, I would be sure to fix it with my hammer.

    On a side note, all the local ARCO gas stations in my area have placed LCD tvs on the gas pumps in my area. Sucks. gonna have to remember to bring a car window punch with me next time I go there.

  27. MercuryPDX says:

    @FLConsumer:
    Cart: “Condoms – Health and Beauty Aisle 12″
    Shopper: “No, I’m looking for Pop Tarts”
    Cart: “Condoms – Health and Beauty Aisle 12″
    Shopper: “No! Pop Tarts!”
    Cart: “Condoms – Health and Beauty Aisle 12″
    Shopper: “!@#^!@#*&( Pop Tarts! POP TARTS!!!!”
    Cart: “Douches – Pushing this cart.”

  28. darkclawsofchaos says:

    @Mercurypdx: strawberry flavored? lol

  29. bohemian says:

    Noooooo. I don’t take my kids with me when I go grocery shopping and I go during off hours. I have major issues with distraction and multiple noise sources. Between other people’s kids screaming and running loose, old people blocking the aisles and the constant PA advertising this would just put me over the edge. I don’t mind flat signage or those coupon things hanging on the shelves. You can ignore those pretty easy. But more things moving and shouting crap in your direction at the same time. Blech.
    Those animated LCD screens on new gas pumps that have audio to go with them drive me nuts, it is just one more distraction to make me forget what I was doing.
    All this A/V advertising getting pumped at people is going to cause someone to eventually go postal and destroy one of these.
    Just think of all the fun unruly kids will have laying on their back in the carts kicking these things in the screen.

  30. FLConsumer says:

    @Mercurypdx: You’ve got the general idea. :) ‘though there are plenty of other products which can be interpreted as a negative thing… like weight loss crap, etc.

    @bohemian: I’m so glad the grocery stores I go to don’t do any PA advertising. The last grocery store I saw which did that was Winn-Dixie (a.k.a. Winn-Dirty), but all of those stores closed in these parts, good riddance.

  31. bdsakx says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if (DRM) Digital Rights Management somehow found its way to our grocery cart. “Sorry, that bundle of celery is protected under copyright therefore you must purchase a separate license for each derivative use/meal”.

  32. ophmarketing says:

    I just hope that the screens can withstand the impact of a can of creamed corn being ‘accidentally’ hurled at them at maximum velocity.

    Just sayin’…

  33. Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

    1) Get paper bag from checkout (if paper isn’t available, get several plastic bags.)
    2) Cover screen with said bags
    3) …
    4) Profit!

    Optionally, replace step 1 with finding a store manager and letting them know that they’re losing a customer because of these damn things.

    Also, how long is it before someone runs over someone’s ill-mannered little yuppie spawn because the screen blocked their view?

  34. Murph1908 says:

    @jwissick:
    A BP that I stop at frequently put those TV’s up on the gas pump recently. I immediately told the owner I’d be gassing up elsewhere unless they are removed.

    My annoyance with ‘ad creep’ is that it never seems to help us, the consumer. If there was a sign below that TV that said, “your gas is 10 cents cheaper per gallon due to these ads”, I’d be all for it…so long as the claim were true.

  35. Nytmare says:

    The product pictures show that it can be folded down, making it an optional use product. Of course if it plays flash-videos or makes noises, and I bet it will, it’s not exactly optional to the other shoppers around it.

  36. RvLeshrac says:

    @PICKLES_IN_MY_TUNA:

    I hope your kid falls and cracks his skull wiiiiiide open. Teach you not to let your kids do stupid, obviously dangerous things.

  37. Balisong says:

    @RvLeshrac: O_O How is catching a ride on the end of a cart stupid and obviously dangerous? I did it all the time when I was little. Unless the kid has motor problems and keeps losing his grip and you’re running the cart down the aisles at full speed, how are they going to get hurt? “Oh noes, my kid just fell…two inches!”

  38. MYarms says:

    I’m curious to know if these things will be hackable in any way so I can display my own “advertisements” on them.

  39. MBZ321 says:

    Doesn’t seem like they will last very long…carts usually end up for hours in the rain/snow/cold in the parking lot

  40. clevershark says:

    The first genius to figure out how to replace the ads with the goatse pic MUST report on the havoc it causes!

  41. nardo218 says:

    I’ll be curious to see if they melt in the New Mexico sun or fry in the Seattle rain. Or just plain disappear in Philly.

  42. PICKLES_IN_MY_TUNA says:

    @RvLeshrac: Wow, you’re a real piece of work! Why on earth would you ever wish something so terrible upon a child? Regardless if you feel it’s an inappropriate thing they are doing or not? I really think it’s fairly harmless that one of my kids puts their feet on the bottom of the cart and holds on to the cart while I move at a snails pace up or down the aisle. I usually refrain from calling people names but in this case; you are a SCHMUCK beyond comprehension.

  43. KJones says:

    @bdsakx: I wouldn’t be surprised if (DRM) Digital Rights Management somehow found its way to our grocery cart. “Sorry, that bundle of celery is protected under copyright therefore you must purchase a separate license for each derivative use/meal”.

    Don’t you know that’s what Monsanto already did? Farmers are legally prevented from using seeds they get from the Frankenfood – sorry, genetically modified produce – they can only use seeds they buy from Monsanto.

  44. KJones says:

    If anyone thinks these things won’t be the target of vandalism (not suggesting that I would), they ought to look at the ad card holders on shopping carts where I live. More than half of them have been vandalized, either broken, torn out, or the ads defaced by knives and pens.

    The LCD screens wouldn’t survive a month in this area.