Scott Swanson (left), CEO of Aki Technologies, and Aaron Kechley (right), GM Media and Data at Inmar Intelligence.
Inmar Intelligence plans to acquire digital marketing company Aki Technologies in a deal that closes the gap between shoppers’ personalization expectations and retailers’ execution capabilities amid growing privacy concerns.
The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter and will combine Inmar’s first-party data derived from the purchase behaviors of 115 million households who participate in loyalty programs with Aki’s suite of advanced personalization capabilities designed for a world of increased privacy concerns. The result, according to executives at the companies who spoke to Progressive Grocer, is to create a more robust retail media and shopper incentive offering that moves the industry closer to the vision of executing true personalization at scale.
“Retailers need technology to scale and meet consumers’ growing expectations, especially when it comes to relevant engagement,” said Inmar's GM Media and Data Aaron Kechley. “The combination of Aki with Inmar’s ShopperSync customer data offerings, will uniquely enable retailers to more powerfully use data to create impactful, personalized consumer experiences at scale.”
Retailers will be able to do so because Aki employs what it calls a “moments methodology,” which helps identify hundreds of thousands of behavior permutations to identify when consumers are most receptive to messages and incentives. Then, using personalization technology, shoppers are served deals and promotions that artificial intelligence has determined are most likely to resonate at a particular moment, or need state.
The advanced capability is the result of four personalization technology patents held by Aki that do not rely on personally-identifiable information. That’s a key reason why Aki was attractive to Inmar because it equips the company’s already robust retail media offering, which is part of the ShopperSync customer data platform, with additional contextual advertising solutions for a world in which shoppers’ expectation of privacy are increasing concurrent with their expectations of personalization and an evolving regulatory environment.
“Early on, we set out for Aki to become the company that would help great businesses grow by building more powerful interactions between brands and their audiences. This vision drove us to create a methodology that would be future-proof for the years to come,” said Scott Swanson, CEO of Aki Technologies. “With the capabilities and assets Inmar Intelligence offers, we couldn’t think of a more inspiring alliance to help accelerate the growth of Aki’s technology to its full potential and deliver further value to our customers and their consumers.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Kechley described it as one of the largest Inmar has made during the process of building out an expansive portfolio of advanced solutions.
“Inmar has invested around $1 billion overall to create its market leading portfolio which we call the retail cloud. This deal is very exciting because a lot of the acquisitions we did before were about building a best-in-class data platform, powering incentives, e-commerce capabilities and retail media. This acquisition puts the spotlight on the consumer experience when we bring to bear all that data and technology.”
A key area of immediate impact will come from the creation of personalized virtual circulars. Aki has the technology and Inmar has the data to bring that capability to life, and help retailers move beyond clunky digitized versions of print ads.
“The technology we built was intended to automate creative production across hundreds of thousands of iterations which makes it perfect for circulars,” Swanson said. “The capability we developed ingests all the different variables for all the different markets and then preprograms the creative so that it can be automated and literally hundreds of thousands of different files are produced, hosted and properly parsed so when we go live only the most relevant offers and the more relevant ways of messaging are used based on all the iterations.”
Since it was founded in 2015, Swanson said Aki has invested heavily in pattern recognition and recognized early on that shifts were happening around privacy that would make it more difficult to identify individuals.
“We are interested in groups and cohorts of people and seeing patterns and how they develop both for shopping behavior in addition to how offers, discounts and incentives, influence how and how and when someone chooses to make a shopping trip,” Swanson said, noting the company’s methodology is completely privacy compliant. “What we are really excited about is because of Inmar’s deep data and relationships with retailers, we are going to be able to do things that are light years ahead of what we’ve been able to do previously.”