Waitrose has seen a tenfold increase in click-through rates to its website after it introduced ‘personalised re-targeting’ advertising late last year.

Waitrose now tracks what visitors to its website are looking at and, once they have left the website, sends personalised banner adverts to compatible websites, including MSN and Sky. For instance, someone who browsed waitrose.com for beer might see ads for Waitrose beer on other websites.

When clicked, each ad takes consumers direct to that product. The ads are created in real time to ensure availability and accurate pricing.

Waitrose’s head of online commercial Nick White acknowledged the fine line between personalised browsing and a ‘Big Brother’ sense of being watched, but said the rollout was driven by customers who wanted a “more tailored online shopping experience”. Waitrose, he added, would “test, monitor and optimise the technology to get the balance right”.

The system was implemented by re-targeting specialists Criteo. “It is great to see an industry leader such as Waitrose driving innovation,” said Michael Steckler, Criteo MD for Northern Europe.