Retail Media’s growth is obvious. From innovative in-store campaigns to comprehensive digital strategies, retail media has become an imperative tool for retailers and brands, and it has become an integral part of shopper journeys.
There was no way to miss it at Advertising Week New York 2023, which began Oct. 16. The topics of discussion varied and included insights about in-store strategies, shifting consumer habits, measurement and more. But the main focus surrounding the future of retail media always returned to one central idea: value.
How does retail media continue to show value, and just as importantly, how does the industry appropriately and adequately convey such value?
Thoughtful omnichannel strategies provide the best value for all
The path to purchase is not linear. A consumer might first encounter a product while scrolling on Instagram. Maybe they see a digital circular on a retailer's website. An in-store display might be the first time a shopper sees a product — or it just might be what pushes them to make a purchase. The point is, there isn’t one path to purchase. Retail media campaigns must be thorough and employ data-backed strategies across channels to meet shoppers wherever they are.
This was the main line through an insightful panel discussion between Insider Intelligence’s Andrew Lipsman, Grocery TV’s Marlow Nickell and Colgate-Palmolive’s Diana Haussling. Haussling put it simply: the store is important, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most important part of the equation moving ahead. Consumers are demanding, their attention spans have gotten shorter and they hear a lot of noise. Successful campaigns provide a seamless experience across touchpoints that meet shoppers where they are and how they want to shop. That said, these campaigns aren’t just copied and pasted across channels either, they are uniquely designed and adapted to meet shoppers in the best way for the medium, whether that’s in-store or digital.
Strategies must be thoughtful. Nickell noted that shoppers could be “ticked off” by certain types of intrusive advertising. To truly be valuable, retail media networks must be careful to ensure that in-store strategies do not annoy shoppers. Successful retail media campaigns educate consumers and provide them with necessary assistance on their shopper journey. As Haussling noted, a brand isn’t the main character in retail media — the shopper is. Making the shopper experience better is why we’re all here, and it’s paramount to every decision the Threefold team makes.
Looking at our future in the US, we’re thrilled we already have so much in-store experience from our omnichannel campaigns in the UK. We know how to execute campaigns across the store and digital, so we’re excited to see the rest of the industry focused on delivering omnichannel retail media strategies moving forward. The Drum highlighted our recent campaign for Fenty at BMG. We took a data-backed, omnichannel approach that was tailored to each individual touchpoint in the shopper journey with media across the full funnel.
First-party data presents unrivaled opportunities for marketers
The real value of retail media to brands is the rich first-party data they provide about their shoppers. As marketers deal with signal loss from the deprecation of the cookie and shifting consumer privacy laws, retail media networks are set to thrive, as marketers turn toward retailers to get information about consumers.
And therein lies some of the biggest value — the ability to provide specific, quality data about consumer behavior that informs how brand marketers act. This data is often more beneficial than other data types because it’s more precise. Purchasing behavior is a clear indicator of what a shopper might buy next, especially compared to demographic data and other previously used signals, said Bayer’s Paul Gelb.
Retailer data is fresh — often much fresher than other types of data. Jill Smith of Kroger Precision Marketing explained that one of the best factors of retailer data is that it is essentially real-time information. Marketers don’t have to wonder if the data they’re using is weeks, months or even years old. It’s not modeled — it’s real, it’s new and it’s informative.
Fresh data has been pivotal to our strategies at Threefold. We’ve been ahead of the curve here in the UK due to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations. Some of our retailer partners, like Boots, have opted to take that even further and use data for just six months to ensure activations are fresh and relevant for brands and consumers alike.
This data can be used to attract customers at any point of the funnel. There’s a myth that retail media can only meet shoppers at the bottom of the funnel, said Smith. In reality, the data from retail media can be used to meet shoppers anywhere on the journey, including through Connected TV (CTV).
It’s our mission in retail media to show brands how this data can create value at any point of the funnel, from awareness to purchase and loyalty and everywhere in between.
The strongest retail media emphasizes value outside the retailer’s four walls
The industry is desperately calling out for more measurement standards to help retailers more clearly communicate value to brands. We commend leaders throughout the industry for working to address this complex problem. Threefold recently shared our thoughts on the effort.
But one area where retail media networks should focus on communicating value to brands: outside their four walls. Because the path to purchase is no longer linear, shoppers may view retail media at one retailer and make their purchase somewhere else entirely. That still brings value to brands.
Comprehensive sales lift studies can help address this question and establish the ultimate value of retail media. It’s about more than just the short-term benefits of retail media. In the next era of retail media, we have to think about how we communicate long-term value to brands and consumers.
Mario Mijares, 7-Eleven’s VP of insights, loyalty, marketing and monetization platforms, explained how this beyond-the-four-walls approach is a key part of its Gulp Media Network. Convenience store shoppers tend to be less loyal than shoppers in other retailer categories. According to Miajres, the average 7-Eleven shopper visits six other convenience stores in a year. That means it’s necessary to illuminate how retail media campaigns pay dividends to brands by growing product sales overall, not just within one retailer’s ecosystem.
Value is so important to us at Threefold. We’re laser-focused on creating campaigns that generate sales and increase profits for brands and retailers alike. We know that true, effective retail media is omnichannel and above all else improves — and does not hinder — the shopper journey.
As we push forward in this next era of retail media, we’re keen to focus on how we can best create and convey that value to everyone in the ecosystem: our retailer partners, CPG brand advertisers and consumers.
Founded in 2008, Threefold is the world's leading Retail Media Network (RMN) specialist, headquartered in both London and New York. As part of the SMG agency network, which employs over 250 retail media experts, Threefold's primary mission is to unlock incremental CPG budgets, curate media campaigns that supercharge sales and elevate its retail partners into top-tier omnichannel media owners, spanning in-store, offsite and online.
Threefold's services include consultancy, evaluation, and a white-label in-house solution that has seen the agency build, run and operate over 10 Retail Media Networks to date. In the UK, Threefold runs and operates Walgreens' Boots Media Group and Morrisons Media Group, and additional live partners include major retailers like The Co-op, Signet Group and The Very Group.