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Uber is joining the ranks of platforms expanding retail media offerings.
The mobility company announced on Wednesday that it will stand up a new advertising arm, and bring advertising to its ride experience.
Key details of Monday’s announcement:
Uber now has a dedicated advertising division. It will be led by Dr. Mark Grether, who was previously with Amazon Advertising and led the company’s ad-serving platform Sizmek.
Journey Ads are a new ad type being launched by the company that are designed to reach users during the ride. This expands in-app advertising across both Uber's ride and delivery services. Through this format, users will see ads in their Uber ride-hailing app while ordering a ride, and during the trip. The company said 40 brands have already run these ads, including NBCUniversal, Heineken and United Artists Releasing.
What it offers: Uber said it has an audience of 122 million monthly active users. With the Journey Ads, Uber said brands have 100% share of voice during a trip. Early results showed that riders were exposed to two minutes of ad content during trips. Between the lines, Uber ads come at a time when people are waiting, and checking the app. That’s a moment when a customer is “uniquely attentive,” Dr. Grether said.
”We have a global audience of valuable, purchase-minded consumers who, as part of our core business, tell us where they want to go and what they want to get,” said Dr. Grether, in a statement. “While these consumers are making purchase decisions and waiting for their destination or delivery we can engage them with messages from brands that are relevant to their purchase journeys. And with 1.87 billion trips last quarter, that means we can connect advertisers to consumers on average five times per month across rides and delivery.
A growing menu: The new format will be added to a network that also includes a variety of ads that are served in Uber Eats, which is the company’s delivery service. These include sponsored listings within the Uber Eats marketplace that elevate a brand’s placement on menus, checkout or the homepage.
Reaching across these two modes, Uber is in position to combine purchase and location data as it seeks to serve relevant ads for users. That’s the kind of first-party data that is making retail media a compelling offering for many marketplaces.
The advertising division is launching with a number of ad formats in its arsenal. These include sponsored emails for exclusive offers across both the ride and delivery sides, storefront ads that place CPG brands atop a virtual storefront and out-of-home Car Top Ads that reach users through screens on a driver’s roof based on location and time of day in several US cities. Uber is also set to pilot ads on in-car tablets in LA and San Francisco.
Here are a several more updates announced this week:
TikTok: Smart Performance Campaign
TikTok describes Smart Performance Campaign as its "first end to end automation solution that leverages machine learning to optimize for best performance and marketing goals. In order to reach the right people and maximize results, Smart Performance Campaign is designed to run performance campaigns at scale, while reducing the number of manual steps to drive results."
TikTok said all that's required to get started is a marketing objective, budget, country and creative assets.
Among the top potential beneficiaries: Advertisers who are new to TikTok, highly performance-oriented or businesses that don't have hands-on campaign management resources.
Google: Seasonal templates
As flagged by Search Engine Journal, Google has new seasonally themed ad templates that have audio and video for specific moments, including Black Friday-Cyber Monday, Hanukkah, Christmas and Diwali. Google will take creative assets such as images, logo and brand colors, then put together a video for the moment.
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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.