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THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

Retail Media Roundup: Spring 2024

15 May 2024

Updates on noteworthy initiatives across the retail media marketplace from Mars United’s Commerce Media team.

To keep the industry updated between the quarterly editions of our Retail Media Report Card, The Mars Agency is monitoring the efforts at leading retailers and platforms to improve and expand their capabilities and services.

We’re focusing on the initiatives that are expected to impact the way advertisers effectively plan, execute, and measure their marketing programs on these networks, either directly through new behind-the-scenes tools and capabilities, or indirectly through shopper engagement activity that will enhance (or at least alter) the way brands interact with shoppers.

The information covered in these updates will be used by our Commerce Media analysts to inform the network assessments presented in future editions of the Report Card.

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AD Retail Media

Ahold Delhaize USA’s AD Retail Media is leveraging partner CitrusAd Powered by Epsilon’s Core ID technology to help advertisers identify potential buyers at the individual level rather than by demographic or location-based audiences. Using artificial intelligence, Core ID lets advertisers make real-time decisions about where, when, and how often to engage with specific individuals, who are evaluated on their likelihood to buy. Epsilon claims to be the first retail media platform using person-first identity. AI targeting is estimated to be three times more effective than traditional segment targeting.

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Amazon Ads

Amazon Ads is expanding the Prime Video media menu by adding shoppable carousels during content breaks; “pause ads” when users click that button on their remote; and translucent, “Add to Cart” and “Learn More” on-screen ads during programming,

Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC) now provides signals for sponsored TV campaigns on the Twitch streaming service owned by its parent. All advertising partners with an AMC instance (secure data subscription) now have access to deeper insights, including cross-media customer attribution analysis, holistic campaign performance, and long-term (12.5 month) customer journey tracking.

Elsewhere, an upgrade to Amazon’s Responsive Ecommerce Creative (REC) tool lets users create ads in all traditional sizes (both IAB-defined or non-IAB types). The update facilitates easier creative optimization across available ad variations, faster generation of responsive ads, and potentially broader audience reach. Advertisers can still make ads for predefined sizes when targeting specific ad slots (which was the only previous option via REC).

Meanwhile, the Amazon Prime Video ad program launched in February is offering CPMs in a bargain-level low- to mid-$30 range. This could put pressure on other streaming services to keep their CPMs low or risk losing ad share. Amazon’s strategy is partly a move to undercut competitors, but also an indication of the retail titan’s scale, the appeal of its vast first-party data pool, and its enviable ability to operate the streaming business as a loss leader.

Amazon’s new Persona Builder lets advertisers combine existing audience personas to create custom targets for DSP campaigns based on their own inputs. (Example: “interested in technology” plus “in market for headphones” plus “in market for fitness clothing.”) The tool is available via managed service or self-serve in select markets worldwide.

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Asda Media Partnerships

UK-based grocer Asda has revamped its retail media operation under a new name: LS Eleven Media Services. The change follows the hiring of London-based SMG (Shopper Media Group) to manage its retail media planning and operations in January. SMG was brought in to help Asda expand the network by adding more physical stores and new digital channels to the media opportunities, and by more closely aligning the retailer’s shopper loyalty program and data. LS Eleven refers to the postcode of Asda HQ in Leeds.

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Best Buy Ads

Technology news website CNET will provide objective product reviews, expert recommendations, and other curated content for Best Buy to use across its website, store app and physical stores. The partnership also includes closed-loop advertising opportunities spanning Bestbuy.com and CNET.com that will have a combined unduplicated reach of 50 million unique monthly visitors.

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CVS Media Exchange

CMX affirmed its commitment to adopting the measurement standardization guidelines issued by the Interactive Advertising Bureau last January by touting its ability to measure and report attributed sales based on viewable impressions (one of the IAB’s recommendations). The network is also working with The Trade Desk on attribution modeling to extrapolate unknown data. Both improvements were accompanied by upgrades to the platform’s client reporting dashboard. IAB-recommended measurement improvements to iROAS (incremental return on ad spend), new buyer metrics, and online/offline sales segmentation are on the horizon.

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Gopuff Ads

Powered by Gopuff is a new business initiative providing white-label logistics and technology services to brands that want to launch their own direct-to-consumer ecommerce sites. Partnering brands can opt either to have their “Storefront” (a customizable template from Shopify) managed entirely by Gopuff or self-manage the site; either way, Gopuff handles warehousing, logistics and delivery. Orders placed on the partner’s Storefront are automatically routed to the nearest Gopuff micro-fulfillment center, where they’re picked, packed, and delivered. The service already has been tested with numerous CPGs.

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Hy-Vee RedMedia

The network gained new leadership when Midwestern grocery independent Hy-Vee named former Saatchi & Saatchi X CEO Jessica Hendrix CMO of the company and president of RedMedia. Hendrix will oversee “growth and strategic operations” for the network, Hy-Vee said.

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Instacart Ads

Expansion of an existing partnership with NBCUniversal will let brands use the last-mile leader’s first-party shopper data for targeted, measurable, and shoppable ad campaigns. Beginning this quarter on NBCU’s Peacock streaming service but with plans for extending to linear TV later, the pact lets advertisers use Instacart’s audience targeting and closed-loop measurement tools for ad programs enticing TV viewers to order products for delivery.

Elsewhere, Instacart struck a deal with PubMatic allowing its first-party shopper data to be used in programmatic buys on the third-party ad tech provider’s Convert self-serve platform. Approved advertisers will be allowed to use Instacart data with a curated inventory of ad opportunities that include connected TV and premium video. PubMatic will measure return on ad spend (ROAS) and sales impact, and help brands measure against specific objectives such as awareness, consideration, and purchase. The vendor vets inventory opportunities across a network of nearly 1,800 publishers.

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Kroger Precision Marketing

KPM struck a deal with Yahoo Advertising to let advertisers use Kroger’s first-party audience data to run programmatic campaigns through the search engine/publisher’s demand side platform, then measure the sales impact at Kroger stores. KPM’s purchase-based shopper data will complement Yahoo ConnectID, a collection of 205 million authenticated U.S. users.

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Lowe’s One Roof Media

The network became one of the first partners beta-testing Google’s Search Ads 360 platform. The partnership initially involves running campaigns on Google Search and Google Shopping via managed service, although Lowe’s is partnering with Google “on the journey toward self-service options,” the search giant said. The partnership represents One Roof’s first offsite media offering.

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Meijer Media

The Midwestern mass merchant introduced closed-loop measurement capabilities for onsite and offsite display advertising via partner Google. Meijer is also now offering enhanced capabilities for customized messaging and content targeting onsite, in-app, offsite, and on social media.

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Orange Apron Media

The above moniker is the new name of The Home Depot’s retail media network (formerly Retail Media+), unveiled during the retailer’s first in-person marketing summit in late March. Among other announcements at the event was a partnership with Univision that will cover both streaming media ads and new in-store opportunities.

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Walmart Connect

The new Walmart Luminate Insights Activation self-serve offering will give Walmart Connect ad clients access to the retailer’s category performance and consumer trend data for the first time. The goal is to let advertisers identify trends and target audiences using the rich shopper data available in Walmart’s two-year-old Luminate analytics platform. The service is expected to roll out to Luminate charter subscribers by the end of 2024, in time for holiday sales data and 2025 planning.

While integration with Luminate is a major step ahead for advertising effectiveness (as well as advertiser satisfaction), it wasn’t the only platform enhancement that Walmart Connect unveiled recently. Also planned for 2024 are:

Expanded ad creative: Ad partners should soon be able to plug into Walmart Creative Builder, a machine learning-powered self-serve tool for optimizing ad creative. Creative-level performance reports will also roll out soon.

Expanded access to onsite display, which primarily will become programmatic and auction-based. The changes include providing first-time access for Walmart Marketplace sellers and other emerging brands through the self-serve Walmart Ad Center.

More in-store opportunities: Demo stations and sampling programs will be expanded, more placements for seasonal programs and single-supplier events will be introduced. And self-serve campaign management will become available through the Walmart Ad Center, starting with TV Wall ads.

Offsite media partnerships: Pilot programs with the Roku streaming service and TikTok social media platform are rolling out.

Stronger measurement tools: Tests are underway on in-store attribution for sponsored search ads. Conversion lift for in-store campaigns, along with store lift and reach for in-store demos are on the way. Brand lift measurement and rest-of-market analysis will be introduced for both the Walmart DSP and in-store audio. Consideration metrics will roll out as well.

Brand shop enhancements: In addition to the self-serve capabilities that already became available, video options, new templates, and expanded discoverability are on the way.

Increased international support: Internationally based technology providers are being added to the Partner Network (which includes Mars United Commerce, by the way) to support businesses outside the U.S. The next step is localized self-serve support tools and education.

Increased non-endemic support: Walmart Connect is actively soliciting advertisers with complementary products and services that aren’t sold by the retailer, with a promise to work with brands that will appeal to shoppers looking “for help saving money and living better across all their needs.” The initial outreach is focusing on automotive, entertainment, financial services, quick-service restaurants, and travel.

Finally, Walmart Connect and Disney Advertising formed a partnership to let advertisers use Walmart’s first-party shopper data to help target audiences and measurement impact for campaigns on the entertainment giant’s streaming services. The Disney Audience Graph database has information on 110 million households.

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Mars United Commerce is an independently owned global commerce marketing practice that aligns people, technology, and intelligence to make the business of our clients better today than it was yesterday. Our worldwide capabilities coalesce into four key disciplines — Strategy & Analytics, Content & Experiences, Digital Commerce, and Retail Consultancy — that individually deliver unmatched results for clients and collectively give them an unparalleled network of seamlessly integrated functions across the entire commerce marketing ecosystem. These disciplines are powered by our industry-leading technology platform, Marilyn®, which helps marketers understand the total business impact of their commerce marketing activation, enabling them to make better decisions, create connected experiences, and drive stronger, measurable results. Learn more at https://www.marsunited.com

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