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10/25/2021

Retail Media in Action ‘Intelligence Report’

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Over the course of two days in October, attendees of the Path to Purchase Institute’s Retail Media in Action virtual forum heard from retail media experts about strategies and best practices for effective activations.

The presenters discussed retailer partnerships, tactical activations and organizational strategies, while also supplying actionable ideas for driving brand growth through retailer media networks. Additionally, they analyzed the current landscape and forecasted the future of retail media.

All Retail Media in Action sessions are available for replay by registered attendees for 30 days after the event. The videos will remain available beyond that time frame to members of the Path to Purchase Institute in the presentation library at P2PI.org.

Day 1 Sessions


How do Paid Search and Retail Media go from Coexisting to Thriving?
Rachelle King, Agency Commerce Lead, and JonPaul Rexing, Head of Industry, Retail, Google; Mara Greenwald, Managing Director, Shop+, and Mike Seiler, U.S. Search Practice Lead, Mindshare; and Sara Weitzel, Global Search Lead, Kimberly-Clark Corp.

There’s no debating that the unprecedented growth in retail media has changed the digital media ecosystem, nudging many companies to rethink their media investment strategies as a result. So how are retailers and CPGs feeling about the shared space between retail media and paid search? “It’s a complex ecosystem with consumers and shoppers at the heart of our collective efforts,” said King. “We need our industry partnerships to make both paid search and retail media work in harmony.”

Kimberly-Clark’s customer-first plans include both traditional search engines and retail media because, as consumers move between platforms seamlessly, they expect brands to be consistent in every touchpoint they have with the company, noted Weitzel. It comes down to holistically managing these critically important channels that serve different objectives. “They aren't at odds with each other by any means; we actually see them as complementary,” she said.

Consumers don’t want to know everything that’s going on in the background, but they do want to be served the same messaging and get the same value proposition across all touchpoints. “That’s not an easy thing to do,” said Seiler, but the brands that understand that search can start anywhere, have a clear idea of what they’re going to push and how to measure it, will be successful in figuring out how to navigate this space.

The panelists collaborated to share their insights into other key takeaways including:

  • When managing investment strategies, making sure there is a clear KPI tied to everything you do is a good place to start. Also, really understand where your search dollars are going and build habits around looking at the full mix versus continuing to make budget decisions in silos.
  • First-party data and the opportunities to build meaningful consumer relationships is very unique to each brand and something they can use across digital campaigns, making it an essential tool in all companies’ marketing strategies.
  • If you can drive users to your owned and operated properties, you have a chance to build a meaningful connection with them as a brand. Search and your website become very powerful tools for both informing and building brand loyalty and starting to make direct connections with the consumer.
  • Work with partners in all aspects of the retail ecosystem. “We ultimately want to enable a holistic search ecosystem and be in a place where we’re adding real value,” said Rexing.

 

The Pathway to Success Across a Fragmented Retail Media Landscape
Michael Greene, VP of Global Product Solutions, and Bobby Figueroa, General Manager of Commerce Insights, Criteo

Brands are experiencing an increasingly fragmented retailer landscape, forcing them to optimize media investments to adjust to the new types of consumer behavior. For most, that translates into diversifying retail media budgets. “The rise in fragmentation indicates that the ways brands think of advertising with retailer partners has definitely changed,” said Greene.

And while he noted that the Boston Consulting Group sees the retail media space as a $100 billion ad opportunity, this new landscape doesn't come without challenges. “Brands focused on selling products at more and more retailers and meeting this new consumer behavior head on are going to face challenges when trying to advertise effectively across these new channels.”

Greene and Figueroa laid out three core challenges they’ve seen brands come up against of late:

  • Managing operational complexity. Normalizing campaign workflows as much as possible becomes absolutely critical when trying to apply a consistent set of best practices, and provides the foundation for more advanced tactics that brands can apply to maximize return on retail media investments.
  • Addressing all stages in the shopper journey. Everything from the top of the funnel down to the bottom is essential in the retail media space. Manage workflow across all retailers and use advanced insights to make sure they’re achieving objectives. As more consumers start their research and shopping behavior on retailer sites, as opposed to other types of general media properties, using retail inventory to address the full shopper journey becomes critical as well.
  • Measuring success. It’s essential to customize exactly how you attribute success to the nature of your products and the objective of the campaigns, whether focused on upper-funnel objectives or just driving product sales.

Oftentimes, though, normalizing product information across retailers to be able to compare retailer performance presents its own challenges. Criteo can normalize that product information in what it calls a universal catalog, allowing it to compare return on ad spend for one retailer of a product to another. “It provides the foundation for cross-retailer measurement and optimization,” Greene said.

Figueroa said retail media is ultimately all about measurement. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” he noted. Measuring it holistically and going beyond basic media metrics and ROAS reporting is essential when you think about measuring success, especially as you try to use retail media to address the full shopper journey.

 

Innovating with Hy-Vee: Omnichannel and Retail Media
Joe Hammond, Group Vice President of Brand Strategy and Insights, Hy-Vee; and Matt Krepsik, Chief Technology Officer, Quotient

Data and technology are at the core of much of Hy-Vee’s innovation and evolution today. The employee-owned retailer has what Hammond calls an “incredible appetite” for innovation — and innovation at speed. The stores are its first line of data, and each determines how it engages with the community, brings promotions to life, and even the local products it carries. “That bleeds right into how we think about leveraging data and technology, and what we’re doing from a marketing perspective,” he said. “Our data shows a massive increase in customer value when our shopper fully engages with us as a brand through our digital properties.” Simply put, digitally engaged customers are worth more.

Customer data technology becomes critical when looking at the 15% of shoppers who still rely on print advertising. His team works to personalize the journey within its own properties while leveraging its partnership with Quotient, which brings customers in with its targeted digital but allows the retailer to swing that omnichannel into the physical touchpoints. Quotient’s Promo Amplification tool meets customers wherever they are in the purchase journey process, at the right time. “It’s a really cool way to provide valuable content versus just letting you know we have a bunch of sales this week,” said Hammond.

Measurement, in an effort to truly understand the impact for Hy-Vee as a retailer as well as the brands it partners with, is part of every conversation. “If we invest another dollar, we know we’re investing that dollar in a way that’s going to drive performance from an omnichannel standpoint,” said Figueroa. “We’ll continue to optimize and iterate to drive a more thoughtful and productive shopper and customer experience.”

Hammond shared a few final thoughts:

  • Put the customer first. Done right, retail media is improving the shopper experience.
  • Test and learn, and expect to fail. We’ve done some really dumb things, but it’s all been for the sake of innovation.
  • Measurement, insights, strategy, the data sometimes lies, but it generally points you in the right direction, and it’s really about bringing all those touchpoints together, leveraging technology and using data to understand how, when and where to engage those customers.

 

The Mondelez Journey: Driving Performance Through Innovation
Yolanda Angulo, Director of Customer Marketing, and Stephen McGowan, RVP, Shopper Activation & Strategic Partnerships, Mondelez International; and Rebecca Poolman, General Manager, Strategic Accounts, Quotient

The past 18 months have brought about significant changes in how the Mondelez shopper marketing group thinks, driven by consumer behavior shifts, shopper demands and retail initiatives. “The why we sell, how we communicate, how often we market and who we market to has all been greatly impacted,” said McGowan. Not only do consumers and shoppers have more control than ever, but they’re also demanding authentic and transparent messaging and programming. Coupled with an always-on commerce mentality, it creates those frictionless shopping experiences.

McGowan laid out three areas that have been impacted, including the environment, which saw an acceleration of and significantly altered shopping behavior; digitally enabled sales, which his team factored at 47%-48% pre-pandemic, and now recognize that 62% of all sales are digitally influenced; and supply, for both in-store and e-commerce purchases.

From a shopper marketing perspective, these changes have implicated an increased focus on agile planning. “Our dynamic planning approach has really paid off with our shoppers and retailers to meet their respective expectations,” McGowan said. The second area is around the full omnicommerce marketing approach that the team adopted over the past couple of years. Plans shifted to focus more on digital and are now full funnel. “We work really hard to create plans that allow consumers to seamlessly convert as they move from in-house to driving in a car or buying online and picking up in store.”

Angulo also touched on the company’s new opportunities and approaches to innovation to drive long-term sustainable growth for sales and its retail partners, including through digital out-of-home for its Belvita breakfast biscuits most recently, and promotion amplification.

The panelists shared three key takeaways:

  • Recognize the importance of openness in collaboration with your partners. Collectively setting up and agreeing on the KPIs at the forefront and going through the process together is so important.
  • Failure doesn’t mean you can’t try something again. Learning, ideating and adjusting is critical. We’re not going to get it right or 100% on the first try and even if we think we do, we can do better.
  • Get out of your comfort zone. Have an open mindset — there’s power in sharing and learning. We need to embark on this innovation journey together and know this path has just begun.

 

High-Impact Circular: The Print to Digital Transformation of the Weekly Ad
Ben Flaccus, Head of Retail, Undertone; and Meghan Galligan, Director of Retail, Stop & Shop

Undertone’s newest capabilities in the retail and CPG verticals marry its high-impact ad formats with a set of best practices around dynamic, real-time distribution of price and item as well as other promotional content. One application solves retailers’ current challenge of taking weekly ad content — at a time when the primary distribution channel for that content is changing rapidly — and brings it to consumers through digital channels.

The opportunities to reach shoppers at scale with digital versions of the circular were too good to pass up for the team at Stop & Shop. “It’s a value driver and it’s important to offer our customers a format that works for them, whether paper or digital,” said Galligan. This was its first step in a digital transformation strategy of offering a digital version of its circular online, being proactive and evolving with customer behaviors.

Working to drive traffic to its digital circular through paid media, her team partnered with Undertone and its digital circular ad products that integrate with the Flipps of the world, Galligan said. “They inject our circular data feeds to allow us to target our customers through media with those top sales items of the week at the hyperlocal level.”

Galligan shared a few learnings:

  • Stop & Shop had to adopt a broad, cross-channel approach to distributing across social, video and Undertone’s high-impact display circulars.
  • Beyond driving foot traffic, it has become a vehicle for omnichannel execution, helping drive both in-store and online sales.
  • The circular is the center of marketing operations, and the retailer is enhancing its distribution by tapping into digital placements that help it expose more audiences. By combining the education, the plan and showing the results, it made the internal alignment process easy.
  • Digital offers more real-time flexibility. Retailers can pivot and shift quickly in a cost-efficient manner, have infinite (and increasingly personalized) offers, and can measure insights.
  • Beyond the key metrics, Stop & Shop also measures which offers are driving the most site traffic and sales, which has helped Galligan and her team optimize what gets featured in other marketing executions.

 

Creator Content and the Omnichannel Buying Funnel
Addi McCauley, Director, Client Development and Strategy, IZEA

Influencer marketing builds awareness as influencers connect with consumers and communities online and talk to them in a very real and authentic way. Moving into 2022, McCauley said we’ll begin to see influencers not just driving social engagement on platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, but as powerful content creators whose ability to establish their influence is rooted in the content they produce. “It’s important for marketers to understand that influencers are sitting there ripe for the taking,” she said. “They can come in and help brands with real-time content creation in a very nimble, scalable and flexible way.”

Budgets for influencers and content creation are starting to take a bigger piece of digital investments. Consumers will continue to demand that brands become more transparent and authentic in connecting with them as individuals. And Millennial and Gen Z audiences have a strong belief that brands have to be authentic and diverse. They want to be able to say, “Hey brand, I understand you have a message but you’re talking about it in a way that feels unique, customized and specific to me as an individual.” Creators become very powerful voices then, and diversity in brand content is ultimately going to yield the most authentic connection that brands can have to consumers.

McCauley touched on ways content can be repurposed and layered into a brand’s strategy, and offered three insight actions:

  1. Create a seamless and enhanced shopping experience for consumers. Having content that can help them solve real-life, everyday challenges or inspire them in a new way is a really great place to start with engagement.
  2. Tap into influencers’ power as creators in their own right, understanding that they can produce high-quality content for brands while embracing authenticity and being highly representative of the real consumers you’re trying to sell your products to.
  3. Leverage the investment in content beyond just a social post. While those social posts are powerful and can drive a lot of KPIs in their own right, the true value of influencer marketing strategy is the long-term investment in the content and thinking about that content as an advertising annuity.

 

The Path to Next-Generation Data Collaboration for Retailers
Michelle Dooley, Managing Director, Safe Haven, LiveRamp

Digital transformation strategies and the technologies that power them have accelerated beyond their years in a very short period of time, following the sharp rise in e-commerce along with consumers’ demand for flexible fulfillment, speedy deliveries and more personalized and customized consumer experiences both in-store and online.

Dooley spoke about focusing on a data strategy that can meet the demands of the ever-changing landscape. “There’s an urgency across the ecosystem but there are three ways we can think about organizing the race to these marketplace challenges,” she noted.

  1. Collection of data. Brands need to find faster, more coordinated access to data, or a single source of truth they can use to reach consumers more effectively. A first-party data strategy is all about delivering better customer experiences and thinking about where you have the ability to influence your teams to deliver.
  2. Connecting the data. Amid the rise of e-commerce, reduction in in-store transactions and as third-party cookies go away, businesses are asking themselves how they can better optimize and measure performance to make their marketing investments go further.
  3. Collaborating to bring together data sources that would have never before been able to be connected, and gaining insights to partners through partnerships that were never before accessible. A lot of retailers are talking about what a media network could look like for their business as a way to provide secure access to audience data to bring better insights to suppliers and drive relevancy in the ads consumers are seeing to drive in-store traffic, web traffic and shared wallet.

Dooley closed her session with three key takeaways:

  • Data strategy is foundational. What are you doing to collect and organize your data so it’s accessible and you have the ability to understand and create those data connections for collaboration?
  • Data collaboration ensures a competitive advantage by unlocking new use cases, new learnings and new customer experiences to better serve your customers.
  • This is being powered by privacy-enhancing technologies that help maximize the value you can gain through safe data collaboration, building customer intelligence and making data accessible across borders to trusted partners.

Day 2 Sessions


Optimizing Online/Offline Shopper Experience for Hyper-Personalization
Chris O'Grady, EVP of Sales and Partnerships, Breaktime Media; Jenny Echeverri, Senior Shopper Engagement Manager, GlaxoSmithKline

As shoppers continue to expect personalized solutions that offer relevance, ease and efficiency, marketers will reap the benefits of building personalization programming that allows for voluntary participation and information gathering. A recent Epsilon study found that 80% of shoppers say they’re more likely to buy when there is a solid personalization strategy in place. “If you build content that has opt-in messaging and participation, those participants are more likely to engage in your messaging and ultimately convert,” said O’Grady.

He presented with longtime colleague Echeverri, who added that one of the important pieces for GSK as a company is continuing to build out its database of first-party consumer data. Whether building an engaging experience or simply finding meaningful offers and incentives for shoppers that entices them to want to opt in and provide their data in return — that is gold for marketers. “It’s challenging to get consumers to want to voluntarily give you their data, but we’ve seen success with it,” she said.

Letting consumers determine what content they want to engage with is critical. “We make a lot of assumptions and use as much data as possible to inform those decisions, but there’s nothing like putting the control in the hands of the consumer to create a really positive interaction,” said Echeverri.

There are three general goals for implementing a personalization strategy:

  • Reducing Friction. Make it seamless and easy for shoppers to find what they need to convert quickly. Create a meaningful and enjoyable experience for customers versus a frustrating one.
  • Offer Relevancy. Provide content and advertising the consumer cares about. You’ll have a higher chance of getting that consumer to engage, interact and purchase.
  • Demonstrate Effectiveness. Drive impact on sales as a result of your personalization efforts, and use personalization in your strategy to get buyer support. 

Keep in mind that implementing a personalization strategy is a journey — it doesn’t happen overnight. Leverage the knowledge of your partners and agencies, but remember to take the steps that make the most sense for your brand. Finally, be helpful and authentic, and create a strategy that is all about the shopper.

 

Retail Media Proliferation: How To Efficiently Manage & Measure Multiple Platforms
Thomas Benedict, VP of Data & Media, Ibotta

The retail media market is growing steadily every day, projected by some analysts to be a $20 billion market by 2024. Consumers are spending upward of $100 billion on online groceries, which represents a 54% increase year over year. Retail media itself has seen year-over-year growth of 38%, and companies like Ibotta with its Ibotta Media Group recognize incredible opportunities in the marketplace for brands and retailers looking to invest in this space.

Benedict outlined the advantages of retail media platforms, including contextual shopping alignment. “When you’re on a site, looking to buy groceries online, you’re obviously in the shopping mindset and [the messaging] is going to be relevant for you,” he said. Retail media platforms offer closed-loop attribution, an important thought not only with cookies going away, but considering the issues with identity in digital media in general. Lastly, marketers can really optimize campaigns based on all the data they collect.

But retail media isn’t without challenges since less than 10% of all grocery sales occur online. Traditional channels are still incredibly important, Benedict said, adding that scale is an issue, as is the walled garden effect. “Retailer medium platforms are going to be challenged to build trust with their CPG marketers and advertisers.” And, finally, it’s incredibly complex to manage, measure and compare all these different platforms that are growing — at least for now.

Benedict offered five steps to consider when creating a new retail media platform:

  1. Establish a retail media strategy, starting with your goals.
  2. Look at your resources. Whether in-house or with agency partners, find people who have more familiarity with the space.
  3. Look at distribution. Consider product distribution by geo, by channel and by retailer. This is a very important piece, Benedict noted, because it’s impossible to manage every single retailer media platform concurrently.
  4. Align on metrics/measurement, whether through cross-functional data in your own organization or through third-party validation options.
  5. Establish a budget. Know where it’s coming from so you can avoid internal cost pressures and politics, and make sure there’s continuity and a plan so you can operate with confidence and achieve the goals you’ve laid out in your strategy — then come back and iterate, optimize and improve your performance as you get deeper into this retail media world.

 

Next-Gen Digital Advertising: How Walmart and The Trade Desk are Harnessing the Power of First-Party Data
Rich Lehrfeld, SVP and General Manager, Walmart Connect; and Jed Dederick, SVP, Global Client Development, The Trade Desk

Walmart Connect offers a customer-centric platform that can help accelerate sales between buyers and sellers in more relevant, impactful ways — with the goal of integrating into people’s lives in a more relevant, brand-safe and value-added way to allow suppliers and advertisers to drive more efficiency and effectiveness with their media dollars.

Together with The Trade Desk, Lehrfeld’s team built Walmart’s DSP, the new demand side platform that allows advertisers to drive media performance beyond Walmart’s proprietary settings. It combines the best-in-class technology of The Trade Desk with the robust scale of Walmart’s unparalleled first-party omnichannel data.

Dederick shared highlights from recent surveys The Trade Desk fielded. Consider these new findings:

  • Two-thirds of consumers would not be willing to pay a service fee or premium to avoid ads.
  • Similarly, seven in 10 American consumers report that they would prefer to receive a limited tailored ad experience versus paying a fee or a subscription to not receive ads.
  • Across most categories consumers still prefer to shop in-store, and that is especially true for grocery at 70%. When they shop online, they want to compare prices, looking for rewards for purchases and the ability to shop any time of day.
  • More than half of advertisers said that shopper marketing and digital marketing are separate for them, but they increasingly have to work together in a cross-functional way.
  • One-third of marketers see the availability and fragmentation of sales data as a marketing challenge.
  • Similarly, one-third see challenges in proper measurement of marketing on business outcomes, increased complexity of understanding of the consumer journey and the ability to optimize across channels for campaigns.

Launching for the holidays, the partnership was designed to solve a common set of problems facing marketers and media buyers — it’s a combination of capabilities that marketers have always wanted, said Dederick. The platform enables measurement of all Walmart DSP campaigns across channels and optimizes in real-time to enable changes, shifting budgets and any tweaking to be done earlier in the cycle, while also getting aggressive with inventory in the screen space and the content space, noted Lehrfeld, “and we know that is especially important as advertisers go into the holiday season.”

 

IoT and the Future of Addressable Retail Media
Manolo Almagro, Managing Partner, Q Division; Doug Chavez, VP, Strategic Partnerships, WPP; Ben Gauthier, Partner, Technology & Commerce, Q Division; and Jonathan Rosen, SVP, Content Strategy + Consumer Experience, PRN

Retail media has brought about new in-store opportunities for marketers and retailers. And while most consumers perceive it as what they see when they’re doing a pre-shop, on an app or planning on a store site, in reality it’s an interwoven, omnichannel approach because it’s based on the shopper journey, Chavez said.

Rosen offered that amidst the digital phenomenon that’s happening right now, many marketers and retailers are taking a deeper look into their loyalty strategies. It’s very apparent in QSRs, but building out that loyalty channel is a trend in every form of retail today.

Still, the place to really build that channel out is in the store, where you know your most loyal shoppers are, they come back often, we have the ability to understand how they move through the store, and the media is closest to the moment of truth. “It really taps into a lot of data retail media networks and in-store networks can collect that nobody else has,” Rosen said.

But with new regulations, we’re coming into a time when a lot of the data pools will no longer be accessible in the way they were. So what does this mean? Is this the time when retail media in-store can provide some of the new behavioral tracking information?

The four panelists offered their insights on this and what the future looks like.

  • Savvy retailers have been really focused on getting people to download their apps not only because of the variety of value propositions available, but it also solves for identity purposes. Customers are logged in when making a purchase online; let’s find a way to make that connection when you’re in the store, which potentially could open up a whole new swath of activities from an omnichannel offering, Chavez noted.
  • Retailers need to find ways to get shoppers on their app as soon as they get in-store by providing relevant reasons and a dynamic environment.
  • In-store messaging should change based on real-world conditions, and we need to start connecting the content channels. Rosen pointed to all the digital content on social channels that doesn’t find its way into the store. “We have to figure out how to tap into the entire digital ecosystem, transform that content, and layer on some rules to make the content matter.”
  • Digital is the way to bring real-time services alive in the physical store. The store is the physicalization of the retailer’s brand and we need to find ways to make it as dynamic and flexible as it can be.

 

What’s Working: How Brands are Driving Results with Retail Media
Adam Bittner, Director of Media Sales, Kroger Precision Marketing; Pankita Desai, Director of Shopper Marketing, Chobani; Michael Reda, Head of E-Commerce & Digital Marketing, T. Marzetti Company; and Casi Reichardt, Director of Shopper Marketing, Kodiak Cakes, LLC

As brands look to up their retail media strategies, it’s important to navigate the many choices to consider when crafting a media playbook. Even those companies that are newer to this game are learning quickly and finding ways to inspire shoppers and drive meaningful results. Without question, there’s a wealth of opportunity in the short and long term. These panelists share their thoughts on the strategic nature of retail media and what they’ve found that’s working.

“We’re learning as we grow, fueling our growth with our investment and complementing that with what we’re doing in stores, but always looking to figure out what’s next and how we can create an environment that really resembles the digital side of the physical store,” said Reda.

It’s important to keep in mind that for a shopper, it’s a full 360-degree journey, added Desai. “Our brand team is focusing on the impressions at every step, and we’re trying to make sure that conversion comes when they’re at their shopping experience and actually putting it in their cart.”

The Kodiak team started with investing in sponsored search. Working with key partners, they make sure their brands are relevant on search so as consumers shop online, and with grocery pickup and delivery, they’re showing up in those key search terms and can maximize and optimize there first for the right return, said Reichardt. Her team also uses retail first-party data to do display outside of those tactics. “It’s a layering approach for us and I’m excited for the future because I think from a merchant standpoint, it’s much more of a focus point on what they’re doing from a digital perspective. How we align that with in-store display is becoming more of a conversation topic.”

The panelists offered key takeaways that will help companies in their retail media journey:

  1. Digital allows the nimbleness to adjust. The huge growth in e-commerce has provided a great opportunity for brands to really drive innovation at the consumer level.
  2. Be collaborative with your brand team. Partner with them on test-and-learn opportunities where there are mutually-identified KPIs and then shared success.
  3. Use insights to create activations to help drive funding.
  4. Stretch the thinking of a brand team’s view of a retailer beyond the physical store. How are you reaching that consumer along the journey to both drive in store as well as online?
  5. Don’t be focused on short-term results only. One campaign is not going to move the needle. Look at it in totality, have those shared KPIs, and find what was able to drive the business.
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