REDMOND, Washington: Microsoft's $6 billion (€4.03bn; £3.06bn) acquisition last summer of online advertising firm aQuantive has opened the way to even greater accuracy in targeting digital ads via US supermarket shopping carts.

Shoppers will use a console that allows them to find products and pay for them, thus circumventing checkout lines - the result of a four-year collaboration between the software titan and Texas-based Media Cart.

In addition, the technology will plot the path of the cart around the store so specific ads can be displayed at certain locations. For example a discounted cookies promotion might appear on the console when the shopper enters the relevant aisle.

The system is to be trialled later this year in ShopRite supermarkets, on the East Coast.

Says Scott Ferris, general manager of Microsoft's Advertiser and Publisher Solutions group: "This is not all necessarily about bombarding consumers, about targeting advertising. It's about also making the shopping experience better for the consumer."

  • Meantime, Microsoft faces further pressure from the European Commission over its alleged antitrust practices.

    Investigators are following up complaints made late last year that by packaging web browser Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system the software colossus is shutting out competitors.

    In addition, the commissioners will determine whether it harms rivals of its Office software suite by controlling the file format used to store documents.

    Microsoft says it will cooperate with the investigations and is "committed to ensuring" that it is "in full compliance with European law".

    Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff