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A partnership announced at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) highlights the convergence of two growing areas of digital commerce and advertising: streaming TV and retail media.
The news: Media services firm Omnicom Media Group (OMG) is partnering with Albertsons Media Collective, which is the grocer’s retail media arm. The collaboration will result in new a solution designed to help marketers target and measure return on investment for advertising through Connected TV (CTV), which describes streaming platforms such as Hulu and Netflix or devices like Roku and XBox.
How does it work? OMG is set to combine audience data from its Omni marketing orchestration system with Albertsons Media Collective data on more than 30 million shoppers of the company’s grocery stores. Using this, it can buy advertising directly within the platform of The Trade Desk, which is a media buying solution.
Why is this important?
For CTV: The new solution is designed to help brands optimize CTV campaigns. With the growth of streaming platforms, advertising opportunities have followed. A September 2021 study from Innovid found that CTV devices accounted for 52% of all CPG video ad impressions over the prior year, and advances like ad-supported tiers on Netflix and Disney+ only figure to bring more. CTV is held out as the best of two worlds of advertising: It presents the opportunity to reach a captive audience while they are watching content on their television, just like linear TV ads. But since the platforms are powered by the internet, CTV also holds the promise to help brands reach specific shoppers based on their profile and interests, as well as measure results. In the end, the thinking goes that it can tie advertising on TV more directly to sales. But the tools that power this new frontier in digital marketing remain in building mode.
For retail media: Retail media is growing quickly in its own right. eMarketer projects spend in the category will reach $61.2 billion in 2024 in the U.S., which is nearly 20% of total digital ad spend. Retail media is typically thought of in the context of running ads on ecommerce marketplaces. But this partnership shows how the valuable first-party data that powers it can be used beyond a retailer’s website, and power other forms of emerging advertising. This was also on view in another Albertsons announcement from CES: A clean room collaboration with Pinterest and LiveRamp.
Key quote: "Connected TV is the fastest growing advertising channel, but as OMG said when we published our CTV Standards Call-to Action in 2021, targeting and measurement deficits in the space are a significant barrier to investment," says Megan Pagliuca, chief activation officer at Omnicom Media Group North America. "Combining Omni audiences with Albertson's shopper data within the Trade Desk, our clients will be able to tailor CTV messaging and spend directly to Albertson's shoppers and measure the impact of their media dollars where it matters most - at the cash register."OMG adds to retail media partnerships: The CES announcement marked the latest retail media splash at a big industry event from OMG. Last year, it announced deals with Amazon, Walmart, Instacart and Kroger Precision Marketing at the Cannes Lions festival. It was at that event that Albertsons Media Collective and The Trade Desk also launched a partnership. With Albertsons, OMG said it aims to for this to be a start. It wants broaden the firms' work together beyond CTV to a media activation tool and its programmatic private marketplace for point-of-purchase screens. Retail media has a role in a number of levels of an emerging ad ecosystem that is comfortable moving between channels, and puts shopper data at the center.
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New advertising opportunities are being beta tested for in-store audio and product demos.
Retail media’s fast growth isn’t only limited to increasing spend. The advertising itself is also poised to appear in more places beyond ecommerce marketplaces, and even beyond the web.
The latest example comes from Walmart Connect, which is the retail media arm of the world’s largest retailer.
Walmart shared details on testing that it is completing for in-store retail media. To this point, Walmart Connect has been considered the advertising platform for Walmart’s ecommerce site. But these tests indicate that’s poised to expand.
Stores present a potent opportunity for Walmart. It has 4,700 big box locations around the U.S., and customers returned to them in droves last year. In 2022, 88% of the retailer’s customers visited Walmart stores.
Walmart Connect already has already dipped a toe into in-store advertising, with a TV wall, self-checkout ads and integrated marketing. The new pilots aim to take a step further.
“The next frontier of retail media is in-store experiences, and it’s one we’re excited to chart,” Whitney Cooper, head of omnichannel transformation at Walmart Connect, wrote in a blog post on the new tests. “But it’s still an emerging opportunity for us, as we continue to test what serves customers best and which solutions are scalable to Walmart’s size.”
Here’s a look at the two new offerings currently under beta test:
Walmart suppliers will be able to integrate product demos into campaigns across in-store and digital environments.
Product demos aren’t new to store floors, but Walmart Connect is seeking to give them an update that blends digital and physical experiences.
“Part of our test is how to enhance the omnichannel experience by bridging the physical back to digital: For example, by pairing a demo cart with QR codes that link back to a curated Walmart.com landing page so customers can find inspiration and shop their list all in one spot,” Cooper wrote.
Walmart is currently offering 120 demos at stores each weekend, and plans to scale to 1,000 by the end of 2023.
Walmart Connect will now offer advertising placements on Walmart’s in-store radio network. Suppliers will have the option to purchase ads by region or store, enabling targeting of key markets.
“This is the first time brands will be able to speak directly to Walmart customers through this medium,” Cooper writes. “These ads also create a new upper-funnel touchpoint for brand marketers and out-of-home (OOH) buyers to create awareness, because in-store audio is about connecting with customers wherever they are in the store — they don’t have to pass the brand in the aisle.”
With the tests, we’ll be watching for how this advertising is measured, and whether Walmart Connect is tracking impact across different types of formats, and not just a single campaign.