Shoppar’s pandemic pivot

The Shoppar team

Plexal member Shoppar helps brands harness the power of data to make smarter decisions. It specialises in delivering in-store analytics and capturing live customer data. But when shops shut for months during lockdown and moved entirely online, the team had to adapt.

Founder Peter Ward has created Maxe: a software solution that allows organisations to analyse how viewers, customers or investors engage with content – whether it’s a presentation deck, a digital ad, an email or a page on your website.

Using machine learning and eye tracking technology, the team have trained the software on real users. It’s now capable of responding to live content in a way that’s representative of how the average user would respond, which means you can optimise your content before you even launch it.

How it works: the tech bit

The Maxe algorithm has been developed using a generative adversarial network (GAN), which is a machine learning model in which two neural networks compete with each other to become more accurate in their predictions. Maxe uses multiple models that are each optimised for a particular task and trained on a specific dataset.

These models are trained on 20,000 images and 60 million data points are processed. Shoppar developed them in collaboration with the University of Bournemouth and academics who specialise in computer vision, eye tracking, psychology and machine learning.

Two key datasets have been used: one for training a fixation model and the other for training an object segmentation model. Together, they can accurately estimate what someone will look at and how they’ll interact with the content.

Peter Ward
Peter Ward, founder, Shoppar

The Plexal view

Jennifer Parker, Plexal’s head of marketing, has recently used Shoppar’s technology and had this to say:

“It was really valuable to have Shoppar assess our digital ads and brand video through Maxe. The report gave me a clear analysis of each marketing asset, where attention is focused and when. It also provided a set of recommendations to improve the exposure of our key messages. We’ve rolled these recommendations out in our upcoming display ad campaign so keep an eye out!”

Shoppar is keen to gain more use cases, and it’s offering all Plexal members a free trial. If you’re interested in learning more, get in touch with Peter on