Media Planners’ New Secret Weapon: Digital Retail Media

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weapon_smallADOTAS – As media planners head into fall, where they will decide how to strategically divvy up nearly 80% of their clients’ marketing budgets for 2011, many will take the proven path of taking a close look at how each of their client’s channels performed during the past year and selecting the right combination for the year ahead.

What most media planners don’t yet know is that there is a new “secret weapon” they can add to their arsenal called digital retail media. Yet with the success that national advertisers like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble are experiencing, digital retail media won’t be a secret for long.

Simply put, digital retail media is advertising within an online retail environment. Unlike the “pay and spray” ad network approach, digital retail media enables advertisers to target consumers on retail sites when they are in a very distinct shopping mindset. With Compete reporting retail sites now trumping search engines as the starting point for researching product purchases, it only makes sense to have your brand message right there, loud and clear in the online store while consumers are in this critical research phase.

Not only does this help drive online sales of the advertised product, but it greatly affects in-store purchases as well. In fact, one major retailer experienced an in-store sales increase of nine times that of the ad spend on one digital campaign.

The Most Effective Uses of Digital Retail Media
Digital retail media works with nearly all types of advertising campaigns and has been particularly effective with large national advertisers in the consumer packaged goods sector, as well as big-ticket or “considered” purchases that typically require more research. In addition, digital retail media is an effective way to walk consumers through more complicated buys, such as a new cell phone and the associated plans, or credit card offers.

Retail media buys are available on some of the world’s most highly trafficked retail websites, including Walmart.com, CVS.com, Amazon.com, BestBuy.com and ToysRUs.com, all of which receive millions of visitors each day. These sites offer both online ad placements and custom content centers. No matter how large or small your campaign, it’s a no-brainer to be where the buyer is, which is exactly why in-store retail marketing has always been so effective.

Campaign Buys and Setups

When set up through a media planning/buying agency, digital retail media budgets typically replace part of the money allocated to ad networks. Again, the benefit here (vs. ad network buys) is reaching the consumer at the point of purchase and not on a publisher’s website, for example, where they might not be in a shopping mindset. Brands love the visibility they get with digital retail media because it places a quality brand message with related content in front of consumers at exactly the right time.

Setting up a digital retail media campaign is no trickier than any other online campaign and can be implemented rather quickly. In fact, most advertisers are able to repurpose and reuse digital assets from other campaign elements. This is a great low-risk way to experiment with the channel. However, just like more advanced interactive campaigns, custom content centers can take several weeks to develop, as they aim to engage the consumer on a deeper level, so be sure to consider this in the planning phase.

For media planners and buyers, selling the concept of digital retail media to clients should be relatively simple. A store like Walmart accounts for 30 to 35 percent of a typical consumer-packaged-goods company’s sales. With millions of unique visitors to the retailer’s website every day (which includes visits for research purposes in preparation for a trip to the Walmart store), the question becomes “why wouldn’t a brand want to influence sales at such a pivotal point?” This is a proven line item in some of the most prominent advertisers’ media plans, as any brand with a product being sold by large retailers should have a strong brand presence on these retailers’ sites.

Digital retail media presents marketers with a unique opportunity to promote their brands to their best customers when they are in the distinct purchasing mindset. And by including retail sites in their media plans, advertisers are able to go far beyond the banner, engaging potential consumers with custom microsites, content sponsorships, brand stores and interactive promotions with coupons, samples and more. Moreover, digital retail media conversion rates have proven to be significantly higher than traditional online buys, delivering much greater ROI on a smaller investment.

So as you head into your fall planning season, consider yourself ready for the limelight with your refreshed media planning arsenal.

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