April 13, 2023

Harnessing Predictive Traffic with AI Retail Media Startup Footprints

Harnessing Predictive Traffic with AI Retail Media Startup Footprints
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One of the challenges that retailers face is attributing money spent on digital advertising to in-store results.

Fortunately, Footprints AI is helping retailers overcome this challenge by providing them with the tools they need to accurately attribute money spent on digital advertising to in-store results. Footprints uses advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques to analyze customer data and identify patterns that can be used for attribution.


Lower customer acquisition costs, higher sales, and predictive traffic.

In this chat you will learn:

  • how leveraging this technology does not require any large infrastructure investments from the retailers and works with whatever existing technology they have in place
  • how retailers can take advantage of this data by targeting customers through their own media channels or synchronizing with other platforms such as Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, TikTok Ads, Waze or Google Apps.
  • How he was able to create co-sale partnerships with companies like Orange and Microsoft which were secured through a long engagement process including traveling 3000 kilometers to meet with the head of retail startups and technology innovation at Walmart
  •  And the funny story on how he kept missing the opportunity to make a move on the love of his life




Chambr’s website: https://www.playlearn.games/chambr

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Past Guests:
Past guests on Innovators Can Laugh include Yannik Veys, Ovi Negrean, Arnaud Belinga, Csaba Zajdó, Dagobert Renouf, Andrei Zinkevich, Viktorija Cijunskyte, Lukas Kaminskis, Pija Indriunaite, Monika Paule, PhD, Vytautas Zabulis, Leon van der Laan, Ieva Vaitkevičiūtė.
Additional episodes you might enjoy:
#55 Yannik Veys - From creating the Uber for service professionals to growing Hypefury
#53 Tzvete Doncheva - Overcoming barriers to get into a VC with Tzvete Doncheva
#50 V...


Hey, you're listening to Innovators Can Laugh, the Fun Startup Podcast. I'm your host, Eric Notcher on I C O. We interview an innovative entrepreneur in the European tech startup scene every week. My goal is to have my guests share their wisdom while having a little fun in the process. Now, let's dive in.

Hello, beautiful people. How are y'all doing? I'm Eric Melchor, and thank you so much for taking time to join me out of a very busy day as I get to talk to some of the most inspir. And innovative people in the startup scene here in Europe. Now, I'm going to introduce you to Dan, but before I do that, I don't want you to miss a single episode of the show.

So whatever platform you're on right now, if you haven't already, just reach out and give that subscribe button a push. That way you're notified every time there is a new episode. Anyway, my friends, I'm really excited about this. I'd like to introduce you to Dan Mark. He's the founder of AI Startups Footprints.

Footprints. AI is a cutting edge retail media platform that allows brands to target media audiences based on their predicted physical shopping behavior in different stages of their purchasing journey. How about that? Huh? This results in lower costs. Faster time to market and increase profits, giving their customers a competitive advantage in the retail media network.

Dan, welcome to Innovators Collab. Thank you, ed. Yeah, pleasure having you here. I'm very happy to be, to join your your podcast. Yeah, no, it's always good having somebody from Buer is here. That way we can talk about, you know, the weather and other things that we love about being here or, or don't love, but that that's another convers.

Okay. So first question for you. You know, we were talking before the show got started. You went to university on your first day there was something that caught your attention. Can you, can you tell the audience about that? What happened ? So yeah, I'm just mentioning that I'm from you know, quite a small, you know, very small town in Romanian, first day in in faculty.

And then there is this, you know, very beautiful. Woman, you know, the most beautiful woman I've seen at the moment. And I, and I'm still remembering the moment , I couldn't see, and it was something like, you know, outta of my words world, obviously. And now she is my wife and the mother of my two and a half year old daughter.

And all right, all right. The story is that you know, a lot of people, including myself, have about. Yeah. Okay. Now, how did you approach her? I'm curious, like what, what did you let a few days go by? Like, what was the first thing you said to her? Can you give any advice for people that are gonna be in this situation one day?

Well, I, I have one you know, one better, which is not really an advice. So the advice is not to go that route. That I, I did. So we got closer as you know, friends, right? , Uhhuh. And I went into an area of a friend zone where every time I was approaching her and she was uhhuh right away inviting me at her home sometimes to, you know, to homework together.

And every time, so just before going and meeting her or going to her place, I was very sure that that moment. You know, I'm going to go for it, right? I'm going to tell her what, what I feel and what I want and you know, et cetera, et cetera. And then, because when your heart starts beating really fast, you're getting all nervous.

Yeah. Like, but you know, your mind creates a scenario, a success scenario, right? And then first, second, first, Microsoft second. After seeing her answering the door, let's say I blank out and then I come back to live, you know, one hour or one hour and a half later. And I feel found myself outside the door, right outside her home and realizing that, you know, I said nothing, right?

I was just the most stupid person. You're so upset with. You're, you're so upset with yourself because you had this intention and you didn't indeed act on it. Yes. So yes, you and yeah, we all know the feeling. I think . So a few years later actually, we, we were sharing we, we stayed in time a few years later, a few, a few years later.

It's not you know, instant gratification story. It's a long term. Okay. Okay. This is the long-term pro approach. A long-term game here. Yeah. The longest term approach. So few years later, we, you know, kept in touch and we were sharing, you know, thoughts and content and music. She sends me in this song write so romantic kind of song, and she says, sometimes I'm thinking about you when I'm listen to this song.

I said, okay, yes, really? And she said you never, you are never into me. You know I know that you don't really fencing me and. I said no, I was, you know, in the country. I was just watching to you actually. Yeah. And that was on chat, right? It was easier on chat. Right. messaging and chatting is something that's specific of conversations these days and, you know, expressing your feelings and then, yeah.

Yeah. It's so much easier to, to pour your heart out, you know, on chat versus in, in, in person. Yeah. And I had 1, 1, 1 friction just to summarize it. So I was. No, 2,900 kilometers away from her. So I get my best friend. We. Jumped you know the next day after she said that to me in, in the van 15 years old van, and we traveled 2000, you know, almost 2000 kilometers, you know, to her you know, showering in gas stations, on our way to Denmark

So she was in Denmark. And you were here in, in Romania. In Romania. So Okay there. And basically I got her stuff in the van and I got back to Bres and she got a flight back to Bres and here we are, right?

was the first time I was actually driving the van. Uhhuh. Very old van. Very shaking, right? . I you know, bringing back home the . Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You're like one of those generals. I've always read these, you know, what I read about generals is that they're meticulous in planning, you know, before the actual war.

You know, they, they take their time, but once the war starts, Act very quickly, and you didn't hesitate at all. You got off that chat room and the next day you towed your friend, we're going to Denmark, gimme your van, and then you, you, you acted very abruptly. Well done. Well done. We did a, I did a plan on, on my way, right?

I had the, the planning and all, everything else, and it, you know, it worked all right. Okay. Good for you. Good for you. I hope to meet you guys, you and your, your wife one day and hear her side of the. Yes sir. , because there's always two sides, you know? Yeah. Okay. All right. Well let's get back to footprints eight i now on your website.

It says there you will know what your customer's current and future needs and expectations are. You can go from anonymous traffic to an individualized shopping experience by knowing a person's shopping habits, their propensity to buy, to visit their channel, relevant score, and more. Tell us more about footprints and like, how does it able to do all this?

So I need to go back from you. You know, the first step that we did, so that was in 2014 when I was part of a very large media corporation, right. Havas Wars. And I was the head of strategy for uk, UK in Ireland. And you know, I was doing everything, you know. Around digital and, you know, digital strategies and so on.

In thousand 14, I met a few people looking to basically enable physical retail buildings with different sensors. And then I, you know, that was the aha moment for me. You know, I realized that there's no tracking, profiling, retargeting, remarketing kind of capabilities in. Real world, right? As we did mm-hmm.

In the, in the digital world, right? In the digital ecosystems for e-commerce, for example. So that was the aha moment. And since then we started building very advanced technology in being able to anonymously track people in indoors using, you know, basically, Mobile devices, but no identifiers behind to know exactly how they move and what's their purchasing intention.

So for example, you go into a shopping mall and you start from, I don't know, parking space, and then you, you know, travel around a shopping mall and you. Might go into some shops, might spend some time there, might do some purchases or not. And this is what we're interested. And of course this went into the next stage of evolution because Eric just imagined that today's Wednesday, right, if we can see a person on Wednesday lunchtime, that is being in a shopping mall and goes to a playground and then then to foot court and then to cinema, more or less, we know exactly who you are, right?

We don't really need to under you. You know, to ask you who you are and what you want. Basically the, the place that you are at the time you are spending and your behavior sell a lot more than about you and your needs and your wants and your desires there than you know what you can actually tell to any kind of digital system, right?

So this was the, the second stage of evolution. Trying to predict and to. What people, who people are, what they do, what they want, and what they need based on where they spend time and what kind of shopping behavior they had. And, you know, what's the, let's say weather outside and holidays and events and the specific shopping mall and Specific day and the time of the day, you know, these kind of things.

And then what we, I'm a media guy, right? Myself, so my, you know, long-term desire is to make sure that we go beyond analytics, right? We can actually, you know, select a group of individuals and be able to target them. . Right? And that was the third stage of evolution where we basically we are one of the most cutting edge AI technologies that are capable to, so we are capable to find your digital twin based on, on your physical behavior, right?

Mm-hmm. . So you know, we look in offline. What you are doing the, the group, the behavioral group that you are part of, you know how you beca behave, what kind of, you know, products and brands and you know what kind of shopping behavior you have, you have. And then we do the same in the online. And then we're trying to match the two together.

Now, you mentioned earlier that this is through your, through your phone. Is this done through like geotracking on a person's phone? Like, like multiple. Multiple technologies. Multiple technologies. Because most of the technologies nowadays are using mobile apps, right? To, to do that. But that's very limited, right?

That's let's say 10% of all the people going into a rental retail property, right? Mm-hmm. , retailers kinda space. We don't want work through your. Retailer with your phone, right. Trying to navigate you know, between the aisles. Right. That makes no sense. Yeah. So we do, we basically use the wifi, which is already in place in most of the retail stations.

Okay, great. And you know, we can. Track the people based on just the fact that they have the wifi on. We don't need identifiers, right? We just need to make sure that we have a complete path, right, of people based on their wifi signals, right? The radio signal, right? Your wifi device, mobile device has a wifi on.

So that's a radio signal. So we capture that signal and we do triangulation of that every five seconds. So we create a path, or we can use cameras, right? But again, anonymously, right? We don't need face, we don't need you know, body kind of characteristics. We just need to sh to make sure there is a moving object, right?

Okay. So that's, that's the, let's say the, the bigger reason. Resource behind. Interesting. That we have. Yeah. So it sounds like there's not, there's not a lot of infrastructure infrastructure for a, a retail store to actually start using the platform. Is that true? There's no, basically, if you proceed this way, there's no big infrastructure investments to, to do it.

We are another kind of company that goes comes through and says, okay, you need to install this and that and that in order to be able to leverage the cus customer relationship that you have. Right. We. The kind of company where we start with whatever we, you have in place. Okay? And we let the data models and the AI to do the, the magic, and then we build from that, right?

What, what it means. It means that, for example, because of the written media profit potential, a retailer can grab those profits and reinvest. Upgrading their IT infrastructure, right? Upgrading their new store kind of capabilities to provide a great customer experie. Because nowadays as you you, you already know and you are aware of that dealers have a very low profit margin, right?

And you know, everybody's promising you know, next hour, you know, same day kind of delivery of any kind of products. So that's obviously go compressing the profit margins they have. Right. And this is why innovation in the retail space is quite hard because there's not a lot of money to be reinvested into, into digital technology.

So what we do, we provide a way for them to leverage and to create profits from the existing infrastructure and then that those profits that go back to upgrade the technology in place for the, for the, for the industry experience. Right. If it makes sense. Okay. Yeah. Dan, what are some of the benefits your clients?

Are seeing from using, you know, your technology from using Footprints ai Well, you can, you can compare the, you know, we have the same benefits like you'll have in online, but you know, this time with footprints, you have them for the physical retail. So for example, you have lower cost per visits, right?

Lower. Customer acquisition, acquisition costs higher you know, uplifting sales, right? Because you know exactly, you know what kind of products you, you need to offer to a specific group of people. You have predictive kind of traffic, so you have predictability. Right on that we have accountability.

So you can actually attribute the amount of money you put in digital advertising to the in store right. Results, which was never being possible, right? Of course, outside vouchers and, you know, mobile apps, again, this is just a very small fraction of the very big numbers that the retails are in writing, right?

So Like in, in e-commerce, right? Where, where you know exactly where each individual dollar right, is being invested and what that gives you back, this is exactly what you can do with footprints. But for the physical retail, right? Again. Okay, why? Because 90, it's 93.5%, but you know, globally still 85% of all the renal.

Being done in in the physical. Right. Okay. Now, so how long does it take for the analysis and for, for this ai, for the tracking to work and to, to get a good picture of. What this person is, or the group that they belong to. There are three stages on that. So first month we have you know, quite blurry, but, you know a lot better than before.

So one month it's enough. Then three months is threshold where we have in enough confidence in the, in the. , you know, profiling and the data models. So for example, we have beyond 70% accuracy, you know? Mm-hmm. and pollution on that. And then after one year, we have a very high confidence, right. In the, in the, in the models for each individual store, by the way.

Right? Because, you know, different geographies, different communities of people, you know, around the retail networks. Point of presence. Why is that? Because in comparison to all the other kind of business models, the retail model is based on a month by month and season seasonality and the year by year kind of patterns, right?

So we, we need to capture a full pattern of full year to understand the whole sincerity of the, the business models and how people. With those retail stores. Okay. Once you profiled a segment or a user or a person, how would the retail store start taking advantage of this, this information and this data?

Are, are they, are they advertising to them in specific channels? Like what does that look like once they have this information? For footprint is, is multichannel. Basically, so for example, the marketing department can actually start using the, the specific profiles, right? The audiences that we can actually generate.

And then they can target them either on their own media, so their own websites, mobile app digital screens in store, for example, or. We allow them to synchronize this data with their Facebook ads or Instagram ads, or TikTok ads or ways. Gotcha. Or Google apps. Right. Or nowadays we're integrating with Netflix.

Right. To be able to target. Your customers, if you're a retailer, while watching a Netflix on their, you know, ads enabled kind of version. Okay. Okay. Now, a lot of our audience are startup founders themselves, or aspiring, you know, entrepreneurs. And one thing I noticed is that you have co-sale partnerships with companies like Orange and Microsoft.

How were, how were you able to get those partnerships with, with those massive companies? The very long engagement I would I would say, so it's did you have to get in a van and go drive 3000 kilometers to go meet, to go meet with Sam Watson and, and the us That's, that's why story with partnerships as well.

So that's exactly it. So with Microsoft, for example, there. A great guy there. His name is Shish and he's the head of retail you know, startups and the technology innovation there. So I found out he's going to be in London for a specific event. I went there. In London. I met him, I said, I need five minutes.

He said, yes, of course we spend like two hours together that day. But he asked me, you know, after, I dunno, 15 minutes. You know what, what's the plan? You know, are you going to, you know, meet other people? No, I'm going, I'm here just for you. Really? Yeah. Just for you, just immediate, I don't care about, you know, other, you know, events or, you know, meetings or anything else.

So he like that, right? This is what I'm, I'm doing, you know, if I have a chance with Walmart, I go there. I spend enough time until they get me in to have five or, you know, two hours or a full day with them to make sure that's, you know, I'm, I'm pitching the, you know, the. . Now obviously you, you didn't just approach the guy and say, I need five minutes with you, and he said, okay, sure, no problem at all.

You know, like, how did you approach him, ? I'm very curious about this. That's, yeah. Well, I, I'm, I'm investing largely in, in my LinkedIn profile, and that's the first thing. So I have a, I do believe I have a strong profile and I have a lot of things to, to add on the retail market, right? I have my own perspectives that I publish.

There, I engage in conversations around retail and just imagine, although retail, it's, you know, one of the biggest industries on the planet, number of people that are knowledgeable about the cutting edge technology. You know, it's, it's very small group, right? Globally and of course outside China, right?

And you know, I'm, I'm jumping into the conversations and I'm adding a lot of content and I do this every day. So start of the day, end of the day, middle of the day. That's you know, I'm, I'm focusing on that. I have a radar on all the conversations. I'm, you know, we're using Google Trends and everything else, all alerts, right?

Will be alert every time there's something happening. And the second thing that I'm doing, I give back. So, for example, if you'd be in Microsoft, Romania and you need something and we have no engagement at the moment and there's nothing for me yet, I always help you to get that, you know, account or contact or anything else.

Right. Perspective. You know, I, I'm, I'm supporting a lot of initiatives outside my, my area of interest from a business perspective. Second thing and the third thing basically, and that's based on my personal relationships as well. When I'm going into bed with someone, I'm going into bed with only that some, that person, right?

So when I'm with Microsoft, I'm not with, I'm not with Google, I'm not with Amazon. I'm nobody else. Right? I'm focusing on you on that own depth relationship and like employing people to actually nurture that relationship, although the return investment is not there yet, right? Mm. . Okay. Yeah, I love that, that narrow focus on, you know, one specific brand, one specific person that you're really trying to engage with and not taking a shotgun approach and trying many different avenues here.

Yeah. Speaking of Microsoft, they I know they put a lot of money into chat, G P three, which seems to be the trend right now. What do you make of chat GB. Dan? Oh, yeah. I, I believe that there are, there will be a lot of opinions. Of course. My take on that, and by the way, I'm, you know, I'm a journalist type.

Yeah. That's my kind of college degree and the simian semi, you know, semitics. So my my perspective is that first when you do symbiotics in communication studies, you. You learn about something which is called intersection, that no, nobody invents anything. They're just reshuffling, remixing all the knowledge that has been ever generated.

Right? And this is called Paradigm. So J G P D is not really reinventing any paradigm. It's all about us to push that paradigm to new kind. On the edge and, you know from a knowledge perspective and, but boundaries. But going back, we are just codifying like never before, a lot, a huge amount of knowledge, right?

And we are automate the process that was perceived as creative, but now we are very surprised and also delighted at the same time. That actually is not really, really, really creative, right? So we are now very surprised for the fact that. Well, it sounds like you know, AAN being right, answering and having that, that much knowledge, but actually it tells a lot more about how we ended up creating these kind of professional professions, right?

How we ended up actually having people in the creative industry, although they had no creativity to be. Right. We put on the table, and this says a lot of good things, but also a lot of bad, bad things about the economy and the type of professions that we have at the moment. So building on that, my perspective is that we are, we need to reinvent the way we work and the roles we have, right?

In companies. We need to make sure that we are focusing more on the human capabilities and we leverage each individual capabilities instead of actually creating predefined. Job roles and profiles. Right. And thirdly, I do believe that you know, this will give a lot of other people that they don't. I'm, I'm from a small town, you know, I want reiterate labs and I have a lot of former friends you know, and colleagues and they're very creative.

They're very innovative, but they have no, have no chance, right? Professionally to. You know, be in my place or in Europe place. Right. They're still there, but a lot more you know, intellectually driven, a lot more creative. So strategy, PT and all the other AI technologies that are due to come will leverage and will give better opportunities to a lot of people that economically at, at the moment, you know, we are not supporting that.

Right. Again, I have a lot of. Colleagues, former colleagues that were smarter than I, I am they're reading a lot more, they're more creative. They're, they're more artistic in expressing themselves innovative from that sense. But they're still in in a very lame kind of role because of the economical kind of context.

Yeah. So my faith is that ai. We'll go, you know, fast will help us going faster to a meritocratic kind of structure for society. That's the logical part of the answer if you Yeah. Otherwise, you know, we're already integrating GT and Dali to help our customers to generate visuals for their campaigns and takes for the company.

So that's the, yeah. Yeah. I plan on. I use a tool, it's, it's not CH B three, CHB three, but it's something else and it gives me suggested, you know, headlines for different posts and things like that, which is fantastic. Okay, now we're gonna do some rapid fire questions here, Dan. Again, just tell me the first thing that comes to mind.

First question for you is, would you rather have $25,000 cash or dinner with Kevin Scott, the CTO of Microsoft? Of course, yeah. Dinner. Yeah,

ofk. Yeah, we can go to a bank and get a $25,000 cash. Right. You come to the cost. Yes. Okay. But then what's the Yeah, yeah, yeah. Good answer. Good answer. Okay. What's the most interesting thing you've done in the past 26 days? I've been I've been having a dinner with sh the guy that I was in Bentonville, which is a very small.

Eating oysters you know, coming from 105, 1,500 kilometers away and having a nightmarish indigestion after that. Yep, yep. Right. Don't eat oysters in Alabama, man. Yes. They didn't, they didn't tell us of them. . Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You don't wanna get the oysters there. Maybe on the East coast, you know, if they're near Connecticut or Rhode Island, but not, not in Alabama.

Okay. What, what is the most death defying act you have ever got? Well well, I, I didn't so far because my excavations are quite high but I, I'm planning to do not a big jump. A wing should kind of fly. Oh shit. Hopefully, you know, I'll make that happen. But that, that's the plan. I love watching YouTube videos with yeah, yeah.

You know? Yeah, no. This weekend I was showing my son a video and this guy, and. I forgot where he was, but he does it with his dog and his dog has no sense of fear and his dog completely trusts his owner and he jumps with his owner off the base jumps and then doing the wing thing. It was just great creeps.

Yeah. Yeah. It was amazing. And asked my son, would you ever wanna do that? He said, no. And I, I was like, good, cause I'm not gonna let you do that.

Okay. What is what is a must have for successful entrepreneurs? It's is the, is the marathon, is on the sprint. So if you don't have a great passion of what you do, you won't be able to influence anybody to join up. You won't be able to wake up every morning and, you know, Kick your ass and move on, you won't be able to, to go beyond the rollercoaster because, you know, there are days and days, bad days and good days and you know, you don't need to be overexcited, but over depressed.

So, you know, it's the passion that basically is moving whatever you do. If you don't have a passion and you just look at making money, that's not really a, yeah, yeah, that's not really a recipe for success. No agree 100%. Especially with the ups and downs. Cuz you can get excited about anything and that excitement will cure you maybe the first three, six months, but.

There's always gonna be a lot of walls that you hit, and you need to definitely be passionate about what you're doing. All right, Dan, thank you so much for being on the show. Where can people learn more about you in footprint? At the moment mostly on LinkedIn. So we have a LinkedIn page, which is very rich in content, and we are updating it regularly.

Soon, next week we'll, A website for Prince for retail.com and my profile Dell Mark on LinkedIn. Always available for a great chat around retail and retail media. All right, I'll include leaks to, Dan's LinkedIn profile and the website in the show notes. All right. Think about how inspired you feel right now from Dan's story.

Imagine you have missed out on that. So if you haven't already, give that subscribe button a push. That way you're notified and you won't miss out on any stories that you're hearing, like the one that you're hearing right now. Now, before you get on with the rest of your day, I want you to hear something.

You are awesome. Yes, you. Now you may be saying, come on Eric. You just had Dan, who is a rockstar on the show and has built this innovative AI retail media. And while that may be true, if you are an entrepreneur, a business owner, a startup founder, whatever you wanna call yourself, you are our one of a very small percentage of human beings that have the courage and the vision to create something new.

You're taking an idea and making it a reality, and that is pretty amazing, which makes you awesome. All right, have a wonderful day and I'll see you on the next episode. Thank you. Thank you.

Thanks for listening to the show. If you enjoyed it, I'd really appreciate it if you could give us a review in star rating. Also, don't forget to sign up for the ICO newsletter@innovatorscanlaugh.com, where you can get the bio and details of each guest. Thanks.