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The marketing and media community is gathered on the French Riviera this week, as the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity returned for its first event in two years after a pandemic pause.
The five-day festival is an opportunity for celebrations, as well as networking. It’s also a place where lots of business gets done. The latter was on view on the wires this week, as many new partnerships between companies were announced. Given that industry leaders are gathered in one place and connecting with each other, it's fitting.
The festival offers a stage for companies to announce new initiatives that point to where marketing is heading. This year’s slate of big announcements points to a bigger role for commerce in the mix, alongside the increasingly blending worlds of media and technology.
Take a look at the major announcements. Together, they make up a group version of our Collab of the Week.
Omnicom’s ecommerce announcements
Marketing and corporate communications holding company Omnicom made a splash with a series of announcements focused around ecommerce with some of the biggest names in the industry. Together, they underscore the rise of retail media networks, which are advertising businesses launched on ecommerce and retail platforms. These networks have access to shopper data that can drive insights. It's exactly the kind of first-party data that's valuable across the digital advertising spectrum. Here’s a look at the partnerships:
- Walmart: An agreement between Omnicom Media Group and Walmart Connect marks the first partnership between the retailer’s advertising arm and an agency holding company. The agreement enables cross-screen planning against Walmart audiences in Omni, which is Omnicom's open operating system. Omnicom said planners can identify the domains, apps and screens with the most effective reach and cost for Walmart audiences. Using Omni’s tools, they can also push advertisers’ first-party data to the Walmart DSP, where it combines with Walmart audiences.
- Instacart: Omnicom Media Group and grocery delivery service Instacart are expanding a partnership. In particular, this will add Instacart data to an Omnicom clean room, providing clients with insights and measurement capabilities. “The collaboration will help brands to understand which products suit their audiences through basket analysis and assessment of content consumption trends,” a news release states.
- Amazon:According to Digiday, Omnicom also revealed details about a partnership with Amazon that includes sharing of insights, tools and talent training. Data-wise, it provides Omnicom Media Group with access to the Amazon Marketing Cloud in order to power ecommerce planning, media mapping and sales forecasting.
- Kroger:Announced Thursday, the partnership will see Kroger Precision Marketing feeding SKU-level data into Omni. This will add a "critical capability" to Omni's Supply Chain IQ Score, which helps brands shift media spend from low-inventory products to another that has more inventory and high purchase intent data around it. “The combination of Kroger’s reach – 50% of US households– and the greater depth of visibility that its unique inventory data enables adds scale and utility to the Supply Chain IQ Score,” said Omnicom Media Group Chief Activation Officer Megan Pagliuca. (Updated to add Kroger 6/24/22)
Albertsons x The Trade Desk
Retail media was also front and center as grocer Albertsons announced a partnership with adtech company The Trade Desk.
The Albertsons Media Collective, which is the grocer’s retail media arm, is bringing new verified-buyer audience and measurement solutions to The Trade Desk platform. In turn, this will provide advertisers such as PepsiCo, Unilver and GroupM, which is working with media agency Mindshare, with metrics and insights to better understand the connection between ad campaigns and customer sales.
“Retail media represents an incredible opportunity for brands that want to connect their marketing spend to sales,” said Jed Dederick, Chief Client Officer, The Trade Desk, in a statement. “As consumer habits continue to change and the identity landscape evolves, our clients are looking for future-proofed, data-driven ways to run impactful campaigns. Partnering with Albertsons Media Collective gives us the ability to provide advertisers what they want, which is targeting that reaches the right consumer and closed-loop measurement to inform media decisioning and optimizations across the whole open internet.”
Shopify x Twitter
While news of this collaboration was part of Shopify’s rollout of 100+ features here in North America, it took center stage for the two tech companies at Cannes. With the partnership, a Twitter sales channel app is now available in the Shopify app store. This enables Shopify merchants to:
- Connect their Twitter account to Shopify admin and access Twitter’s Shopping Manager, as well as free tools designed for businesses.
- Sync inventory automatically between Twitter and their product catalog, enabling updates in the catalog to appear in Twitter.
- Highlight products in their Twitter profile via Shop Spotlight or Twitter Shops. This is designed to build brand awareness and heighten the chance of discovery. Checkout will still take place on a merchant’s page. With this move, both of the Twitter features are now out of beta and generally available.
It’s a move to bolster social commerce, highlighting how interactions with brands and products, as well as buying decisions, are increasingly happening on social media platforms alongside web stores and marketplaces.
“Reaching potential customers where they are is critical to the success of Shopify merchants. Twitter is where conversations happen, and the connection between conversations and commerce is vital,” Amir Kabbara, director of product at Shopify, said in a statement. “Our partnership with Twitter, and the launch of the Twitter sales channel, will let merchants seamlessly bring commerce to the conversations they’re already having on the platform.”
Lowe’s metaverse tools
Home improvement retailer Lowe’s unveiled new virtual goods that are designed to be used to build the metaverse.
The company unveiled 500 3D product assets that are available for free download through a hub called Lowe’s Open Builder. The idea is to equip virtual and augmented reality developers with assets to make creations more useful and stylish. These include patio furniture, area rugs and accessories for kitchens and bathrooms. Lowe’s isn’t opening its own storefront, but rather offering items that are designed to go inside the new structures taking shape in virtual worlds.
"Over the past several years, we have infused new technologies into the planning and shopping experience and know our customers have benefitted greatly from being able to explore and test home improvement projects in the virtual world before taking the leap to implementation in their real-world homes or job sites," said Seemantini Godbole, chief information officer of Lowe's, in a statement. "By entering the metaverse now, we can explore new opportunities to serve, enable and inspire our customers in a way no other home improvement retailer today is doing."
For the first 1,000 participants, Lowe’s is also rolling out a new NFT wearable collection for users in Decentraland that can be used to decorate boots, hardhats, and other accessories.
Future Netflix partnership?
Like any big industry event, Cannes is also a place for meetings. One of the most closely-watched sideline schedules is that of Netflix, which is seeking a partner to launch a lower-cost ad-supported tier of its streaming service.
Attendees will also be looking for clues on who Netflix will partner with for its foray into the advertising world, which it plans to ramp up quickly to start selling ads as early as the fourth quarter. Sources told CNBC that Netflix has met with Google, which makes most of its revenue from ads. It has also met with Comcast/NBCUniversal and with Roku to discuss ad-sales partnerships, as previously reported by The Information. NBC Universal and Google declined to comment.
A Wall Street Journal report said NBCUniversal and Google emerged as the top two contenders.
A Netflix spokesperson said no decisions have been made and that the meetings are “all just speculation at this point.” But that’s unlikely to stop attendees from reading between the lines when Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos speaks at the festival on Thursday.
Trending in Marketing
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.