Target Media Network (TMN)
In its third year, Target Media Network comprises three major ad channels: Target.com; external websites under the Bullseye marketplace (mostly premium publishers including Meredith Digital, Hearst and Evolve Media); and social media (primarily Facebook). TMN positions itself through strength in audience identification. First-party data allows Target to create rich segmentation profiles based on a shopper’s purchase history (i.e., where she shops, frequency of visits, what she buys, how she pays, etc.). The TMN platform generates 25 million unique weekly digital visits, while Target overall has 30 million weekly store transactions, 38 million Cartwheel users and 2.5 million registries.
- On Target.com: Home page advertising (custom leaderboards and megaboards); display ads (sticky ads, baseboards, category pages, product listing pages, search listing pages, product detail pages); category page titles (content tiles, browse tiles); brand experience pages (customized digital endcaps).
- Bullseye Marketplace: display ads, audio, in-stream video.
- Social media: Facebook product ads and carousels; Pinterest.
Keys to Success
Transparency and consistent communication. TMN conducts weekly or bi-weekly status meetings between its account managers, creative leads and media planners and the brand’s shopper marketing teams and agency. Its exposure to Target’s merchandising and marketing teams gives brands an extra advantage. “TMN has direct contact throughout the entire organization,” says Epsilon Catapult’s Nichole (Nikki) Johnson, account director, Target team. “They are in tune with what the merchants see as priorities for their categories and assist with bringing all cross-functional parties together to tell a cohesive story.”
Georgia-Pacific’s Wright meets every other week with his TMN contacts. Although based in Atlanta, he visits Target’s Minneapolis headquarters (where TMN is based) to meet in person approximately 75% of the time. “Go in early and often,” he says. “You have to establish a regular cadence because so many programs run at the same time.”
Transparency is also key. Marketers can achieve a bigger line of sight by sharing full-year calendar plans with TMN even before committing to a dollar amount on the media investment. “If they’re going to get behind something in a big way – whether it’s a major seasonal play or launching new fulfillment tactics or a restock – having them know we are open to it early enough allows them time to pull us in,” says Wright. “This year, having that early dialogue and communicating our desire to participate went a long way toward us getting consideration for programs we never did in the past.”
Negotiation: Ask the tough questions. As TMN seeks to push a brand’s investments further, marketers must come to the table well informed and prepared to negotiate. “It’s important to have intimate knowledge of their tools and platforms so both sides can challenge each other and push each other toward creating the best possible brand solution,” says Abbey Oslin, management supervisor, Target team, Epsilon Catapult.
When working with TMN to establish campaign goals and KPIs, marketers must resist the temptation to try to check off every box for every program, says Johnson. “Brands need to be clear and consistent when prioritizing objectives for a program and identifying whether the main goal is to build awareness or drive trial and sales.”
TMN is receptive when marketers ask tough questions under the right circumstances. For example, because search is one of its newer (but growing) platforms, TMN may not have all the answers for marketers on how to optimize search-based campaigns that run internally on Target.com and on external sites (e.g., Google). “TMN is committed to the partnership,” says Oslin. “They’re willing to go back to Google with hard-hitting questions so that the program can be executed across the retailer’s sites and at the national level.”
Creative control: Choose your battles. All ads that run through TMN must adhere to Target’s style guidelines. Thus, marketers have to be selective in deciding when to insist on some measure of creative control for their brands. It often comes down to deciding between must-haves and “nice” to haves.
In some cases – such as when there are specific product claims or a core benefit for a new product launch that need to be communicated verbatim – marketers may be justified in making that request of TMN. Otherwise, it is a matter of working with TMN to balance a consistent look for a brand that is appropriate when viewed under the Target.com lens. “Leverage your TMN contacts. They are happy to bring in someone from the creative or planning side to work through issues,” advises Wright. “They’ll work closely with you and give you a deeper understanding of what works with their guest. Just be sure to put it all out on the table as early as possible.”
Wright says that experience has taught him how to examine creative more intuitively for its potential application on Target.com. In a recent campaign for Dixie Ultra Moments, Georgia-Pacific was able to borrow some elements from the national campaign (e.g., lifestyle imagery such as plates with high-end finger food). Says Wright: “The more experience you gain in working with TMN, the more you can look at your own assets and know right away if they are going to work.”