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Data 101: Defining the Value of Data for the Shopping Center

by John Dee, President


Over the last few years, we have been hearing about the era of “big data.” But it’s clear to me that there is still some misunderstanding about what “big data” really means for a shopping center. When we use the word “data,” it may be very different than what your development or leasing teams mean.


So, what is “data” and what does it mean for the shopping center?


First of all, data has been used by shopping centers ever since shopping centers came into being. If you are adding a retailer to your center, studies are done to understand the local market and show that there is demand for the retailer. Providers like CoStar or REIS (which you may have seen before), collect and format certain data that help retailers and shopping centers make decisions. These are well established businesses that have seen increased growth as more data processing becomes available.


But when PlaceWise (and the marketing teams we work with) talks about data, we are mostly talking about the kind of data that can be collected from digital interactions online and then used to inform the marketing efforts of a particular center or retailer.


This type of data collection is accomplished through the use of online technologies, like account profiles, cookies, or other digital fingerprinting tools. We are interested in the aggregate data of how people engage with a center’s digital assets, and also what their individual interests are so that we can deliver a more relevant experience when they visit that center – both in person and online.


When a user visits a site, their interactions are logged and put into a data management platform (DMP) where additional data, like purchase history, can be added to fortify it. This data is then grouped into segments and exported to our ad-serving platform. This enables us to not only target the specific shoppers who have visited your center’s digital media, but we can also use it to find other shoppers located in the same area and share similar tendencies. And before we get nervous about privacy and the “creepy” factor, let me say that all of this can be done while maintaining the anonymity of the user!


So when PlaceWise refers to “data,” this is actually what we are referring to: the valuable shopper-intel that is produced by users’ digital interactions with your website and media.


PlaceWise has revolutionized the collection and organization of this data with the development of the Active Shopper Exchange (ASX), which allows shopping centers and retailers to collaborate and share data on shared shoppers. This data exchange is crucial for the shopping center because it gives us better insight into shoppers’ consumer behaviors, tendencies, and preferences. It is this specific data set that helps us to help you deliver the best quality experience for your shoppers, both online and on-premise.


So now you know – data matters! Who knew our online activities as shoppers could be collected and used to create better, more engaging, and more purposeful experiences? We are definitely in an era of big data, and it’s only getting bigger…