In a move that further cements its position as the king of retail media, Digiday has learned that Walmart has launched an expansion to its demand-side platform efforts that reduces waste for media agencies when they use it along with that of its partner The Trade Desk.
And Omnicom Media Group is among the first media agencies to embrace the new offering and line up its clients in the food and consumer packaged goods space.
The retail giant’s retail media offerings have grown so vast that earlier this year it announced a demand-side platform (DSP) in partnership with The Trade Desk that’s gone live recently.
Though sometimes worth it, using more than one DSP creates potential headaches for agencies and clients on a few fronts, said Megan Pagliuca, chief activation officer, Omnicom Media Group (OMG). “Bringing another DSP into the equation means you can’t manage frequency, you’re making a tradeoff with unique reach, and sometimes you’re bidding against yourself. There’s a lot of waste that happens,” she said. Walmart has eliminated all those obstacles, she added.
“We listened to marketers,” explained Stephen Howard-Sarin, vp of strategy and transformation at Walmart Connect (formerly Walmart Media Group). “This ability to frequency-cap across campaigns, regardless of whether the campaign is running in a traditional TTD seat or in the new Walmart DSP seat, we didn’t know we could do. We’ve been able to eliminate this additional tax, this barrier of starting off with a new DSP accessing the data because we can now do campaign-level managing frequency so [agencies] are not bidding against themselves.”
Walmart’s efforts are just the latest example of the growing importance of e-commerce, which supercharged the retail media space to the point where many major retailers — notably in the grocery and food space — offer sophisticated options for CPG advertisers to sell their wares on the retailers’ far more robust websites and digital destinations. And the media agency side has taken to this growing world of marketing opportunity like a fish to water.
“Retail media is a huge part of the discussion and probably the fastest growing element we talk about with our CPG and FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] clients,” said Sam Bukowski, group director, commerce strategy, at GroupM agency Wavemaker.
Walmart’s move speaks to the growing sophistication of the retail media space, but it’s not alone. In mid-September, grocery chain Albertson’s partner with video platform Firework to turn its websites into the “Pinterest of food,” according to Jason Holland, president of Firework. That includes adding livestreams and shoppable videos across Albertsons’ 20 store brands, from Vons to Jewel-Osco and Balducci’s.
“We believe businesses have to start owning and controlling the connectivity to their consumers again,” said Holland. “We’re entering the platform era, where an Albertsons or a Kroger or a Macy’s or a Nordstrom all compete with TikTok and Snapchat, because we’re going to be blending on the open Web upper-funnel entertainment, or shoptainment, with lower-funnel conversion, all taking place in one ecosystem, which is a website.”
Holland said that allows businesses to own their first-party data, they can attribute consumer views and can map it through to conversion of the sale — with greater return on investment. “The ROAS component on this is incredibly powerful. The conversion we see relative to the conversion of media exposure in the walled gardens is probably close to 5X,” he added.
“We are aiming to bring digital shopping and online experiences closer to the … sense of discovery, freshness, and community that a customer experiences in our stores,” said Albertsons’ vp of digital marketing Usman Humayun. “It’s what today’s customers expect and their ever-growing digital engagement continues to validate this for us.”
Wavemaker’s Bukowski is watching all these developments with a careful eye. “It will be interesting to see where people [are] trying to force shift in consumer behavior versus where are the natural cues that consumers want something more,” she said.
And just because media agencies have taken to these opportunities with gusto doesn’t mean it’s easy, said Bukowski.
For one, what used to be clearly delineated budgets (shopper, trade, advertising & promotion, coop) now gets blurred with these new options, and it requires agencies to break down internal walls to effectively use retail media. For another, agencies have to keep up with constant changes and updates to the ad platforms (such as Walmart’s news above), along with their data/measurement abilities, physical ad unit capabilities and then having a perspective on all those changes.
“You have to do your due diligence on what capabilities exist, their maturity, keep in mind brand safety, and keep your own independent tracking,” said Bukowski. “And it demands a lot of agility.”