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News Analysis 3 Dec 2020 - 3 min read

Woolies' Cartology hires IAG's Analytics lead Willem Paling for post-cookie media surge

By Paul McIntyre - Executive Editor

After a quiet takeover of Quantium's media unit, the massive scale-up by Woolworth’s retail media division Cartology continues unimpeded by Covid with the hire of IAG’s head of Customer Growth and Analytics, Willem Paling, to lead the retailer’s activation and attribution strategy for 30 million weekly in store “interactions” and 20 million digital visits every week.

Key points:

  • Former IAG Customer Growth and Analytics chief joins Woolworths retail media unit to drive major growth push
  • Shopper data and searches for sale to marketers and agencies
  • Woolies touting through-funnel targeting and attribution based on 65m monthly searches and purchases
  • Retailer among vanguard of Australian companies preparing for first party, post-cookie digital ecosystem
  • Anonymised ID trading partnerships anticipated in 2021 with major media companies
Buyers market

Cartology has acquired Quantium’s media rights to sell Woolies’ customer transaction data to media, agencies and direct to brands with plans for a huge push next year to strike partnerships with publishers like Nine and Foxtel in people-based marketing, that is, the trading of anonymised first party user IDs. 

This is the first hard signal from Woolworths of its plans to move outside its own network of in-store screens and collateral and online shopping customers and allow its hashed customer IDs and transaction data to be used by publishers and brands to follow customer purchasing from top-of-funnel advertising exposure to a transaction.    

In the last 12 months, it has opened up the 65m monthly searches on to marketers. From February 2021, Cartology CEO, Mike Tyquin, told Mi3 last month that “we will provide audience activation both on and off the Woolworths platform,” using Quantium-enabled targeting capabilities.

“Brands will be able to come to Woolworths and access that audience data,” Tyquin said, touting “one point of contact for integrated campaigns on and off platform. That's a big step forward.”

Woolworth’s would not confirm Paling’s appointment but his hire is part of a huge investment the retailer is making in Cartology, which has doubled its team in the past year to around 100 people. 

The media rights transfer from analytics and data house, Quantium, also owned by Woolies, to Cartology is part of the bigger plan for the retailer to become a key player in the digital marketing sector for brands and agencies preparing for the end of third party cookies – after underpinning the ecosystem for two decades – in digital advertising and online user tracking. 

Attribution adjuster

Before IAG, Paling was part of the team at Foxtel which took programmatic media buying in-house. But in an opinion piece written for Mi3 earlier this year about AI’s underwhelming benefits for marketing so far, he suggested “it really just hasn’t been that good.

“We thought consumers would be eternally grateful that pervasive tracking meant that ads were delivered just for them, in just the right context, at just the right time,” he said. “Turns out they’re not. They’re pissed about it.  I was part of the team that took programmatic in-house at Foxtel and IAG but as I've said, it hasn’t been that good. The tools just aren’t there yet. And the problem is … it goes beyond media.

"The most common uses for AI in marketing are the optimisation of media buying and the personalisation of product or content recommendations. At the crux of all these problems is the stubbornly persistent industry standard method of last-interaction, or last click, attribution. This does not even attempt to differentiate sales caused by the advertising from those that would have happened anyway."

No surprises then that Paling is taking the new role at Cartology in campaign activation and attribution for brands as part of an industry-wide move to prepare for the end of third-party cookie tracking and to people-based marketing.

It essentially means customer data is collected from direct interaction between companies and customers, anonymised and traded in the open market to better target and attribute the triggers for a purchase. Nine announced a deal with Adobe recently as part of its people-based marketing strategy hitching its logged in audience IDs  to Adobe’s dataset. Seven is moving into similar territory, including a deal with TEG, which owns Ticketek and has millions of customers and profiles.

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Paul McIntyre

Executive Editor

Market Voice

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