NEW YORK — The quickly growing retail media channel is a hot topic at Advertising Week New York, with some expressing the desire for retailers to eventually “decouple” their first-party data and allow that information — an increasingly rich asset in the lead-up to cookie deprecation next year — to be used for a wider array of applications.
While a full peek behind the curtain may be a long shot, brand marketers are clearly calling for greater flexibility in retail data usage and these demands appear to be resonating. During a session yesterday, Kroger Precision Marketing (KPM) at 84.51°, the retail media arm of grocery giant Kroger, announced it will soon roll out a solution with The Trade Desk addressing decoupling.
“[Retail media networks] are sitting on something that’s so incredibly powerful, but in some cases, we are trying to solve for many things, and the best way to do that, potentially, is monetizing that data and allowing your advertisers to go and be very specific through self-service or a managed service,” said Aracely Moreno-Mosier, senior director of omnichannel marketing and head of retail partnerships at PepsiCo, during a panel at the conference Monday. “If we can look at it from that perspective, I think that could open up a whole other opportunity in terms of growth.”
KPM’s solution, which will be detailed further in the coming weeks, was born out of advertiser feedback and aims to let partners use KPM purchase data from their existing “seat” on The Trade Desk, a demand-side platform (DSP). Seats are the licensed accounts that ad buyers are assigned on DSPs to be able to conduct transactions and access other features.
“This fall, we’re launching a new programmatic offering with The Trade Desk where we’re decoupling our audience, the inventory and the measurement data,” said Jill Smith, vice president of media sales at KPM, during the talk. “In terms of transparency, we’re now allowing brands to activate from their own seat, enabling our retail data to be added onto that buy. It comes from your seat, we don’t want to compromise any brand safety, any reach and frequency.”
“We want to make it easy to offer our data and also offer that daily measurement,” Smith added.
A pivotal moment
As retail media continues to grow, one big question hanging over the channel is whether retailers will follow legacy digital platforms — the Googles and Facebooks of the world — in building walled gardens where getting a transparent view into data is difficult. Decoupling could be the answer brands are looking for.
Retail media networks showing signs of becoming more open with their first-party data arrives as standardization across the channel sits top of mind. Publishers are aware of frustrations with the current model and are seeking to preserve momentum as retail media networks scale to be profit drivers. The retail media category on the whole is forecast by GroupM to surpass the combined revenues of linear and streaming TV by 2028. Kroger has helped the Interactive Advertising Bureau develop its retail media measurement standards, as has Albertsons, a rival the grocer is attempting to merge with if it can clear regulatory hurdles.
The theme of the Advertising Week panel, which also had a representative from Bayer and was led by The Trade Desk, was around “retail data,” a term that doesn’t carry a shared meaning, exemplifying the fractured nature of the current landscape.
“I think we’re at the interesting toddler years of retail media and retail data,” said Stephanie Paterik, the panel’s moderator and general manager of The Trade Desk’s editorial division.
Among advertisers, 81% use retail data in their campaigns, according to a study conducted by The Trade Desk’s intelligence unit in conjunction with Materialplus. But definitions of what “retail data” means varied: 44% of those surveyed believed it is data that retailers collect about their business; 40% said that it is data collected by advertisers around purchasing trends; and 16% said it is data collected by researchers on purchasing trends.
Panelists also had divergent perspectives. Smith stated that KPM thinks of retail data as Kroger’s first-party shopper data applied for media planning and buying for both offsite and onsite channels. PepsiCo’s Moreno-Mosier, whose role supports the food and beverage company’s commercial and sales operations, had a broader perspective.
“For us, it’s really around anything that can inform the business. Retail data can be inventory levels, it can be how things are moving within the store,” the executive said. “It absolutely is about the shopper behavior, but it can inform your promotional calendar.”
Broadening use cases
A push for less rigidity around retail data comes as marketers try to wring utility out of the channel beyond lower-funnel ad formats like sponsored product listings. Experimenting with regional brands was one prospect cited by PepsiCo. NatuChips, a plantain snack focused on Latin America, might play well in certain areas of the U.S., like the East Coast, while not warranting a national promotional blitz. Retail data could be used to target those localized campaigns more precisely to promote trial and brand awareness.
PepsiCo is also now running a pilot around what Moreno-Mosier called household elasticity. A diehard customer, or someone with “low elasticity,” might get served less steep discounts since they’re more likely committed to the marketer’s products, which include Pepsi, Doritos and Quaker Oats. Similarly, consumers of different means may get served more tailored ads with the aid of retail data as inflationary pressures continue to affect messaging strategies.
“We’re seeing the bifurcation of wealth happening more and more. It’s getting much more aggressive,” said Moreno-Mosier. “I think there has to be a win for the shopper in this case.”