Last week, it was revealed that Walmart
But the marketing landscape has shifted and, especially with out-of-home advertising spend decimated in 2020, brands need to find new ways to reach customers. One newer, if not brand new, form of media is the type seen toward the bottom of product results – typically below them entirely – on Target.com and other multi-brand commerce sites.
You’ve seen them before and you inevitably do a double-take, questioning whether what’s appearing is part of the site you’re shopping and related to what you were searching. “Sort of” and “hopefully” have been the answers in the past. But now, with the power of ad tech behind it, this retail media is carving out its own space in brands’ marketing budgets and serving retailers, brands, and customers alike.
Geoffroy Martin, EVP and General Manager of the Growth Portfolio at Criteo, an advertising platform, describes this new form of media as a “win-win-win” that allows retailers to monetize traffic they’ve already invested in acquiring; brands not only to drive sales but to gain visibility into engagement metrics since retailers will share first-party data with them; and, consumers to see organic search results that are augmented by additional and relevant product listings.
Ulta Beauty is one such retailer now serving as a billboard of sorts for this developing ad presence. “Retail media is a growth opportunity for Ulta Beauty
One reason brands may have more money to spend now on this ad tech form of retail media, or what Criteo competitor Promote IQ (now owned by Microsoft
And before stores across the U.S. were forced shut in 2020, there was a new form of them emerging. It was the multi-brand discovery marketplace, brought to bear by organizers such as Pop Up Grocer, Neighborhood Goods, and Naked Retail, who secured leases and began filling spaces with brands paying to play.
Elevaate, in the retail media or e-commerce vendor marketing space alongside Criteo and PromoteIQ, is focused on using this ad tech on grocery sites and helping consumer packaged goods brands secure on “space on the digital shelf,” noting at the time of their acquisition by Quotient in 2018 that sponsored product discovery was in demand. On the opposite end of the spectrum from the mass brands that often participate in retail media on mass retailers’ web sites, Pop Up Grocer is not only a brick-and-mortar store, but one that Founder Emily Schildt describes as focusing on independent food and beverage brands that meet niche or other criteria in order to earn the right to pay for shelf space.
Like the win-win-win described by Criteo’s Martin, this is a model that simultaneously satisfies Pop Up Grocer as a retailer, brands in need of discovery and discovery-seeking customers. While Martin says the ad tech version of retail media is “the only product I can think of that benefits the person who’s paying the money and the one who’s receiving the money,” he agrees the offline manifestations are good lower tech analogies. And David Matthews, Managing Director of RevTech Ventures, describes Neighborhood Goods, in which he’s invested and which bills itself as a new type of department store if not mall, as “a retail business model that aligns the interests of retailers, brands and customers.”
From a brand’s point of view, if native digital ads need to blend in with product results, commerce display ads are a way to guarantee placement on the right real estate, and with desired creative. What’s happening offline is more the former, where Naked Retail, Neighborhood Goods and Pop Up Grocer all maintain some consistency of merchandising and visual presentation throughout their spaces. It’s all retail media.
Both the digital and physical multi-brand formats are marketing at their core and reflect new types of online and offline spend. Not only can certain flavors of this advertising replace lower-funnel marketing spend, but they add value higher in the funnel with their forays into video, home page takeovers and co-branded campaigns.
Matthews, of RevTech Ventures, adds about Neighborhood Goods, that “their artful approach to highlighting the unique value each product brings to their customers enables the deeper customer connection many brands fail to foster. It was, and is, the right concept for retail, and has the potential to change everything we know about the retail experience.” Naked Retail is similar in that regard and to the way malls might have been described during their ascent in the 1950s, and to how Pop Up Grocer is setting a new standard in grocery.
While there appears to be little overlap between the smaller brands paying for placement in physical marketplaces and the larger consumer products companies appearing via ad tech on even larger retailers’ sites, the objectives are similar: Retailers need to leverage their real estate and traffic, brands need new opportunities for placement and consumers are on a quest to discover what’s new, or at least what’s new to them.