Sam's Club aims to stop serving ads for items customers already bought

Retargeting capabilities are taking retail media beyond the Sam's Club marketplace.

Sam's club map illustration

(Courtesy photo)

The retail media network at Sam’s Club is reaching beyond its own marketplace.

The news: Sam’s Club is making retargeted advertising available on tens of thousands of sites across the open web. Called the Sam’s Club Member Access Platform (MAP), the feature is being powered by The Trade Desk and LiveRamp.

How it works:

First-party data: The feature uses data from Sam’s Club members, including “exact data on purchase history, demographics, recent purchases of similar items and basket size.” While this data already powers advertising on the Sam’s Club marketplace, it will now be used to reach members as they browse the open web.

Intent: This data can be used to deliver personalized ads to Sam’s Club members who expressed interest in a product, but have yet to make a purchase. This is important because it allows ads to be better matched to the products that members want to buy. Ads are automatically connected to membership data and membership behavior.

Examples: Retargeting could be directed to a member who has an item in their cart, but didn’t buy it. Or, they could’ve visited a specific landing page, brand page or shelf page. Relevant ads can also be delivered to members who are going to pick up an order in the store, and plan to continue shopping.

Know when to stop: The feature also takes aim at a key issue in digital advertising: Ads keep being running, even after a purchase is made. MAP stops serving ads once a related purchase is completed.

Technology capabilities include automated audience building, onboarding and targeting. It is using AI and machine learning technology from The Trade Desk for optimization, and data permissioning and access controls from LiveRamp for work with supplier brands.

Results, including incremental ROAS (return on ad spend), are third-party verified by IRI. A reporting feature allows for tracking of results to the point of sale.

Key quote from Mic Zavarella, VP of Marketing at PepsiCo: "We’ve been waiting a long time to be able to retarget using the real-time data that Sam’s Club has. This allows us to automate targeting, personalize messaging and create sophisticated media workflows that maximize the efficiency of our campaigns.”

What it says about retail media:

Beyond the walled garden: While retail media allows ecommerce platforms to offer advertising, its not-so-secret weapon is the first party data that is collected directly from a purchase, and is tailor-made for the privacy-first mode that digital advertising is moving toward. MAP shows how the valuable data from Walmart-owned Sam’s Club can be used to power advertising not just on a retailer’s own ecommerce site, but across the entire web.

Hitting the target: The feature aims to tackle two key areas of strain in digital advertising: People see ads for items they already purchased. “Advertisers are now able to target based on what we know members are actually in market for, right now. We can then stop serving these members ads once they complete their purchase at any Sam’s Club or on any device,” said Austin Leonard, head of sales for the Sam’s Club Member Access Platform. It shows how retail media brings opportunities to improve the experience for everyone.

MAP grows: Sam's Club launched MAP last year as it aimed to provide self-service capabilities, joining a number of retailers who ramped up retail media capabilities. It came in a year that Walmart reported that its growing advertising business generated $2.7 billion.

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