Attendees learned a lot of hard facts about retail media networks during the Retail Media Forum, a virtual event held March 30-31. They received actionable takeaways about what to consider when planning their activity, what to do when executing their programs, and how to evaluate their performance at the end. There even was a little bit of conflicting opinion, including some interesting debate about the value of return on ad spend (ROAS) as a suitable success metric.
Many of the speakers expressed the ideals the industry should be striving for as it refines the concept of retail media networks and finds mutually beneficial ways of capitalizing on their potential strength.
See below for summaries of each session, as well as a few video clips providing interesting sound bites from the speakers.
All Retail Media Forum sessions remain available to view for 30 days after the event, accessible via direct emails sent to Forum attendees. Additionally, the videos will remain available to members of the Institute in the presentation library at P2PI.org.
And take note: the Institute will present a next-level retail media virtual event, Retail Media In Action, in October. Stay tuned for more information.
Day 1 Sessions
How to Navigate the Retail Media Landscape
Reid Greenberg, EVP, Global Digital & E-Commerce Practice, Kantar
There are four big trends taking place right now that make retail media more important than ever. Direct results are now media imperatives. Retail media is getting bigger and bigger, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re getting into a world that will have no more (or much less) third-party data, so retailers are gravitating toward new ways to use their first party information about shoppers to attract money from advertisers who still want to target personalized ads. From many verticals, the journey from discovery to actually purchasing is being dramatically compressed.
Focusing on the big four retail media players will be critical:
- Walmart has a massive system behind its Walmart Connect platform, but execution and transparency needs improvement. The retailer has data on 150 million shoppers per week, and its omnichannel shoppers spend twice as much in stores over time.
- Kroger is very hungry to figure out how to become a disruptive advertiser outside of its store to drives sales back to its 84.51 platform. Measurement is more holistic than other media providers and connects to broader marketing efforts. The ability to turn off an ad after it has driven a purchase enables greater relevancy.
- Amazon Advertising is a behemoth in terms of its capabilities, offering advanced measurement techniques and tools along with massive reach and high shopping frequencies, but it offers limited exposure to its advertising team.
- Target’s Roundel allows media buyers to use their own demand-side platform and is very conscious of where ads show up, promising “brand-safe” placement. The retailer is very clean in its design and architecture, but lacks benchmarks as a newer player in the media space.
FORUM SOUND BITE: Reid Greenberg ...
Connecting the Retail Media Ecosystem: Roundel & Criteo
David Peterson, Vice President, Sales, Roundel, Target; and Sherry Smith, Managing Director, Retail Media, Americas, Criteo
Retail media isn't just a shopper marketing play anymore. It’s about delivering full-funnel marketing solutions. Recognizing this, Target renamed its in-house media company Roundel in 2019, signaling plans to be a more aggressive player in the sector. Since doubling down on its media network, the retailer has seen a growth in its e-commerce business – fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic – most notably in its alternative fulfillment services such as Drive Up curbside pickup, which grew 600% in 2020 year over year. As shoppers embrace more ways to shop at the retailer across digital and in store, brand marketers need to adapt their marketing strategies to reach shoppers wherever they are and, according to Peterson, retail media is in a great position to do that.
Among other key takeaways:
- Target has about 12 million "omnichannel" or "multichannel" shoppers that shop both digitally and in-store.
- Omnichannel shoppers at Target spend four times more than shoppers who shop in-store only and 10 times more than shoppers that shop only online.
- Retailers media networks have the ability to measure results that help inform not only if a campaign was successful, but how it can be improved in the future.
- Retail media investments are being funded from different budgets, such as e-commerce and target marketing, but gradually more from national media.
Retail Media Platforms: Overview and Comparisons
Mindy Fashaw, COO, Pacvue; and Karen Satterlie, eCommerce Manager, Henkel
Fashaw and Satterlie provided an overview of four retail media platforms: Amazon, Walmart, Instacart and Criteo. Amazon and Walmart own and operate their own platforms, while Instacart (a third-party marketplace) and Criteo (a platform provider) place advertisements for retailers.
Amazon generally has the highest amount of paid placements, and that number has continued to increase in the past year. Walmart in contrast has fewer paid placements on the first page, but Walmart category buyers have the capability to manually push or pin SKUs to certain top placements.
Their analysis indicated that Amazon’s platform offers huge scale and is complex, but it’s also competitive and expensive. Walmart’s is growing fast, but it offers a low click-through rate. Instacart offers high conversion but no store or region-specific data. And Criteo offers a wide range of retailers but no keyword-based targeting.
Among other key takeaways:
- The number of paid placements on the first page of search varies for each platform. Amazon generally has the highest number of paid placements. Retailers are really aware of the prime real estate at the top of these search results, and so they’re kind of changing the placements that as advertisers we have opportunities to invest in.
- While it’s important, don’t get stuck on paid keyword search and only make sure you are winning there. It’s also important to show up anywhere on the retailer site where people are shopping. And make sure you are splitting your budget so that you also pop up in these other locations.
- It’s important for brands to build expertise. They need to rethink ways of working, empower their teams to make quick decisions, and enable training and education.
FORUM SOUND BITE: Karen Satterlie ...
Retail Media 3.0: The Rise of Retail Marketing Networks
Spencer Baird, EVP & President, Martech, Inmar Intelligence
The evolution of retail media networks has thus far involved three phases:
1. Retail ad networks, “which was kind of code for, if there’s a way to monetize it, let’s figure it out, let’s get the logo slapped on and let’s make some cash,” said Baird, whose career includes time at H.J. Heinz, Dannon, Kellogg and Ahold Delhaize/Peapod.
2. Retail media networks, which is “the here and now … age of retailers stepping forward, enabled by ad tech companies, putting their stake in the ground,” he said. “It’s much more integrated between marketing and merchandising on the retail side, and you’re seeing a lot of good behavior on the CPG side.
3. Retail marketing networks, which is the “next generation,” according to Baird. “We think media is too narrow, and frankly creates a lot of confusion. In the world of retail marketing networks, it’s a high degree of integration between marketing and merchandising, it’s monetization in the context of shopper needs, and it’s a whole new territory of opportunities.”
The difference between media networks and marketing networks is “monetizing hoping you meet shopper needs” vs. “meeting needs trusting that you’ll sell a lot more and [then] be able to monetize on a much higher level,” he explained. “Those two things send you in very, very different directions.”
Retail marketing networks involves audience richness (“Finding ways to learn more about shoppers”), seasonal context and optimized content that work together “to create advantages for shoppers.” Measurement is also a key aspect, Baird said.
FORUM SOUND BITE: Spencer Baird ...
Piecing Together the Connected Commerce Puzzle: How Retail Media Fits into the Macro Shopper Marketing Strategy
Moderator: Ethan Goodman, SVP of Commerce Media, The Mars Agency; and panelists: Marie Catanzaro, Team Lead, Shopper Activation, Mars Petcare; Stephen Chriss, Customer Vice President, Shopper & Omni Channel Marketing, Campbell Soup Co.; and Lisa Matos, Vice President, Sales Capabilities and Commerce, Conagra Brands
This panel discussion addressed retail media topics such as which discipline/functional team should own retail media, how it should be funded, which KPIs should be reported, how retail media fits into joint business planning, and even if retail media should include in-store offerings.
Panelists suggested retail media needs to be handled in a hybrid manner internally, with a need to remove silos. Everyone needs to treat things as one demand-connected commerce experience across trade and sales. You can lean on the media team for execution.
In regard to pushing back with the retailer, panelists suggested there needs to be a bit of a balance. “They respect us, we respect them. We’re trying to grow each other’s business.” Do you have to have permission to speak up, asking “What if …?”
But ultimately, one panelist suggested, the team that’s accountable for the relationship with retailer needs to own it. Overall, there is no perfect answer to any of these questions right now. “It’s a journey in an emerging space,” one panelist said.
Other takeaways included:
- Not all retailer platforms are created equal, both from an inventory standpoint and the data it provides. In regard to JBPs, every retailer is different. Some can be isolated and you don’t get strategic planning.
- Brands seek and need for consistency of measurement across platforms, and often want a hard-core ROI perspective. Return on advertising spend (ROAS) needs to evolve. An unbiased third-party measurement provider could be the answer.
- In-store is vitally important (still as much as 90% of sales), so there needs to be a wholistic approach.
Shopper Behavior on Retailer Websites
Peter Breen, Editor-in-Chief, Path to Purchase Institute
The Institute fielded an online survey of 1,000 shoppers In January with the goal of answering two questions that are critical to any discussion about effective retail media activation: Why are shoppers visiting retailer websites, and what are they doing when they get there?
In terms of trip drivers, 68% of respondents said they typically visit retailer websites with a specific goal in mind rather than being prompted by any advertising or promotional tool. However, 31% of shoppers were inspired by emails from the retailer, and more than 20% were inspired by digital ads they encountered either on social media, search engines, or other websites (such as entertainment, sports or brand websites).
Once they get to the retailer website, shoppers take advantage of a wide variety of tools to help them find and buy the products they want. While only one tool is currently utilized by a majority of shoppers – the search engine at 61% – nearly all tools have a significant impact on the purchase decisions of shoppers who are using them.
In general, shoppers are tapping into tools that help them accomplish three actions:
1. Decide which products to buy, such as product ratings and reviews.
2. Plan the trip, like reviewing their purchase history and compiling a shopping list.
3. Find deals, such as consulting the digital circular and searching digital coupons.
One final significant fact: 39% of online shoppers said the typically visit the retailer’s website to begin a trip that ultimately ends with purchases made in a brick-and-mortar store.
For additional results from the survey, read "A Shopper-Centric View of Retailer.com."
Day 2 Sessions
Why Challenger Brands are Leveraging Retail Media to Drive Hyper-Growth
John Denny, VP, Ecommerce & Digital, Cavu Ventures
Physical store distribution has dominated CPG strategy for the last century, but digital is now influencing the vast majority of sales even if they still occur in stores. The tools that have been created today to influence consumers are more powerful than anything that has previously existed, and challenger brands are far more likely than larger companies to leverage these tools in innovative new ways to accelerate quickly. Challenger brands:
- Understand that e-commerce success drives retail demand. Their strategy is to launch own channel first and then follow with physical retail.
- Go all in on digital strategies. They prioritize the new digital platforms and invest at aggressive levels.
- Zig when everybody is zagging. They leverage e-commerce and retail media to build brand while everyone else says it is about ROAS and performance.
The entire industry believes that retail media is about return on ad spend and performance marketing, but it can be your brand building platform from day one. The idea that performance advertising is all that matters today is a myth. The reality is that brand messaging outperforms performance messaging 80% of the time. Another myth is that media is all that matters when the reality is creative is more imperative to success. Challenger brands are achieving rapid growth by launching online in a creative way and building a brand presence first.
Today, e-commerce success drives retail demand. So despite what we’ve seen in the CPG industry for 75 years, what the challenger brands are doing is flipping that on their head. They’re going all in with e-commerce, digital media and retail media platforms with the understanding that winning on Amazon and retail media equals winning everywhere.
How Kellogg Levels Up Omni-channel Sales at Kroger
Gail Horwood, Chief Marketing Officer, Kellogg North America; and Cara Pratt, Senior Vice President, Kroger Precision Marketing, 84.51
It's hard to ignore the rise of gaming. More than 50% of the U.S. population is engaging in some form of gaming, and core gamers spend more than 15 hours a week on the activity. Recognizing this consumer behavior, Kellogg identified multiple brands in its portfolio, such as Cheez-It and Pringles, that over index as go-to snacks for gaming. Armed with the insight of this emerging gaming/snacking occasion, the manufacturer teamed with Kroger for a program centered on gaming with Xbox that leveraged the grocer's retail media platform Kroger Precision Marketing. Horwood noted that part of working with retail media networks is a learning journey because "if we simply evaluate retail media only through the ways we've evaluated our traditional media investments ... we're missing a larger opportunity."
Among other key ways Kellogg approaches retail media:
- Look at holistic measurements. Traditionally, Kellogg has used market mix modeling, but now it's augmenting that with new tools and measurement strategies.
- Leverage data. The company is always game to mine new sets of data, such as KPM's loyalty and consumer data, to unlock unique activations for customers.
- Have dedicated resources. The manufacturer has dedicated resources to understanding and unlocking value through measurement in retail media. "This is not a part-time job for a couple of people," said Horwood.
FORUM SOUND BITE: Gail Horwood ...
Oreo Thins: Mondelez’s Recipe for Retail Media and Promotional Success
Steven Boal – CEO and Co-Founder, Quotient Technology Inc.; Anne Martin – Customer Director, Shopper Marketing, Mondelez International; and Steve McGowan – RVP, Omni-Shopper Activation & Strategic Partnerships, Mondelez International
The emergence of retail media doesn’t necessarily mean out with the old and in with the new, especially when the old is in-store merchandising. However, in Mondelez International’s experience, it does mean adjust the old so it works in tandem with the new. In other words, create a truly omnichannel experience.
The CPG giant is doing that, recently evident through a program with Albertsons Companies aimed at driving trips and increasing awareness of Oreo Thins, starting with a digital coupon. The partners leveraged the retailer’s Quotient-powered retail media network, Albertsons Performance Media, to target shoppers that align with Oreo’s brand segments and used incremental in-store displays to match the online experience and drive users to the digital coupon. Among the companies’ key takeaways, Mondelez emphasized the importance of:
- Strong retailer relationships. Of course, retail media data and metrics is important for targeting audiences, but also in collaborating on test campaigns, like with Oreo Thins.
- Link digital and in-store. Mondelez says amplifying the digital consumer experience with in-store merchandising is key to driving meaningful and measurable in-store sales velocity.
- Accelerating digital spend. While Mondelez is investing in search marketing, digital content and media, the company makes no mistake that with that, it’s even more critical to maximize efficiencies and campaign outcomes.
- Test wisely. With an increased digital spend, test and learn campaigns are key, and Mondelez suggests starting with an already well-known brand.
FORUM SOUND BITE: Anne Martin ...
What it Takes to Win with Retail Media Networks
Mike Ellgass – EVP, Retail Marketing Solutions, IRI; and Abishake Subramanian - Senior Director and Head of Advertising & Partnerships, Sam's Club Media Group
The COVID-19 pandemic has no question spurred a massive shift in shopper behavior, and the rise of retail media has been a major part of the ripple effect the pandemic has had on shopper marketing and e-commerce. But while many retailers have come out as winners amid the pandemic, some brand marketers are still figuring out how they feel about the growing retailer-led opportunity.
Subramanian helps Sam’s Club reconcile that by giving brand marketers what he says they need to succeed, and pushing the Sam’s Club Media Group team to think like performance marketers to better target members. Oftentimes that means targeting members across touch points. For example, some marketers use print ads to promote an offer in an instant savings booklet and amplify the offer through digital touch points for deeper targeting. It’s all about learning how to drive consumption in the category and drawing new consumers to the category. Providing brands with in-campaign data and insights is becoming more critical.
While post-campaign insights including sales lift reporting, ad click-through rates and repeat buying behaviors are useful to inform next marketing actions, gone are the days where brands must wait for the end of a program activation to get insights, according to Subramanian. “The goal is to leverage analytics to get to the insights as quickly as possible.”
In terms of the future of retail media, Subramanian said he has his eye on:
- Machine learning to enhance one to one personalization at scale.
- Data partnerships to provide enhanced relevance.
- Campaign optimization via algorithms.
- Self-service tools for advertisers.
Non-Endemic Opportunities for Retail Media Partnerships: How to accelerate your brand growth and awareness using retail media networks (even if you’re not a vendor)
Janine Flaccavento, New Stream Media Solution Lead, Merkle; and Brent Rosso, Former VP, Digital Media, Target, Independent Consultant and Advisor
Non-endemic advertisers are brands that don’t sell directly through a retailer, but offer complementary products or services. Retail media networks offer non-endemic brands the opportunity to connect with shoppers that might be similar to the brands’ consumer demographic. A total of 76% of CPG brands plan to contribute to non-endemic spending, and 19% of those already are doing so, according to research from Merkle.
In defining the non-endemic advertiser at a big-box retailer, the range starts at those in a “category sold but product not listed” (D2C brands). Then it continues to “consumer adjacent” (paint and appliance brands), “connected through partnership” (Redbox, MasterCard) and “connected through behavior” (Molly Maid, Mass Mutual). It concludes at “not connected but aligned to audience/mindset” (Ford, Hulu) and “not connected or aligned to mindset” (financial and home security).
Noteworthy use cases include:
- A co-branded effort between CVS Media Exchange and PayPal that ran on a dedicated web page, product display pages and sponsored social media updates.
- Amazon’s monetization of its own-and-operated spaces, such as on-box advertising, lockers, Prime Now and Amazon Go, Treasure Truck and Amazon Books.
Strategic partnerships with retail media networks should aim for relevancy in any given experience. Think about Google and how it always tries to provide search results that are relevant.
FORUM SOUND BITE: Janine Flaccavento ...
Best Practices for Shopper Marketers and Media Buyers
Moderator: Jason Young, Digital Industry Expert, and panelists: Kasey Moss, Brand Director, CHOMPS; Katie Neil, Director, Connected Commerce, The Coca-Cola Co.; and Nicole Rainey, Shopper Marketing Manager, Mars Wrigley
Brand marketing organizations are utilizing retail media networks as both an advertising tool and sales driver. When looking at a retail media network’s suite of product solutions, brands have to learn by doing to determine where and how to best deploy the capabilities. As some networks are able to provide data in near- or real time, brands could test anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to decide how to use the solutions.
At the outset, marketers have to frame up and connect with the consumer in the right place with the right message at the right time. Depending on the end goals, either offer shoppers the option of conversion, or make it an awareness play. As the brand journey evolves, establish benchmarking and decide “What do we want to learn out of this?” And then once you learn it, “What’s the path forward?”
Brand marketers have to set the tone with any retailer media network and make clear:
- What you know moves the needle on your business.
- What exactly you need to have measured.
- Your need to know where the retail media network is on its journey to providing what you need as your partner.
- Your need for the network to be as nimble, agile and transparent as possible to optimize along the journey.