Retail Media Up the Funnel

​​​​​​​Nielsen executives discuss their company’s role in the media landscape, including measurement.
Cyndi Loza
Managing Editor, Member Content | profile
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focus retail media
Left to right: Jenny Park, Jeffrey Schmidt and Wendy McClintock

Technology, including mobile phones, smart TVs and a growing list of streaming services, is driving a rapid and dramatic shift in the television ecosystem. Today’s audiences are in control of what they watch, when they watch it and by what medium they watch it — and they have an abundance of content choices. We recently caught up with Nielsen’s Jeffrey Schmidt, senior vice president, client solutions; Wendy McClintock, vice president, client solutions; and Jenny Park, senior director client solutions, on what role the 100-year-old company plays in this rapidly evolving media landscape. Additionally, they discussed how Nielsen is measuring what programming audiences engage in (and where), so that the makers of content, distributors of content, advertisers and sponsors of content all have a truth set on which to conduct business with each other. 

Where does Nielsen fit in the omnichannel landscape?

Schmidt: Although retail media has exploded within the past five years, the truth is that Nielsen has been supporting retail media since inception starting in 2014. Nielsen fits into retail media as a source of audience measurement, planning and analytic comparability.

Over the last few years, Nielsen has been building out a cross-media audience measurement solution (Nielsen ONE Ads) that helps provide a comprehensive reach and frequency of computer, mobile, linear TV and CTV media. Nielsen ONE Ads covers 100% of linear TV, 90% of computer mobile and 85% of CTV media spending, inclusive of walled garden coverage of Meta and Google properties. Nielsen ONE will also aid advertisers to understand the benefits of investing in retail media partners, through the comparable independent lens they have already been using to evaluate the rest of their media plan for reach and frequency optimization.

Retail media is growing, in part, by increasing its allocation of media spending from other marketing channels, including TV. It is only by understanding the impact of media spend across all platforms that brand advertisers can intelligently allocate their cross-channel spend, for the maximum incremental gain within and across the retail media channel. Clients can take advantage of their retail media-based targets, to either measure audience performance within those targets, or pull those segments through to planning as the advertiser or agency builds out plans for optimization period to period.

Finally, beyond reach-based metrics, Nielsen offers its analytic solutions to enable third-party independent sales lift or purchase intent KPI lift, again, in a comparable way to how advertisers or media companies evaluate their spending for their national media buys and return on investment.

What are Nielsen’s retail media solutions and offerings?

Park: Our solution suite is geared toward audience measurement (reach and frequency optimization), media planning and sales impact analytics. Retail media is moving up the marketing and sales funnel into new formats, including open web, social and streaming TV formats, even taking them into the store experience as part of the omnichannel journey. We believe retail media will disrupt traditional TV advertising with its ability to use first-party data for targeting and measurement, and it will need partners like Nielsen that can uniquely match to first-party identifiers and bring in both big data and panels, as well as measure CTV, streaming, podcasts and brand engagement at the shopper and household level.

What is the company’s approach to retail media measurement?

McClintock: Inclusive coverage of the media landscape for retail media is consistent with Nielsen’s vision to capture all audience exposure to media within the cross-media landscape. It is not new, but it is set up to serve with this additional focused reporting.

We are exploring unique partnerships within key retail media partners to offer audience measurement in Nielsen ONE directly through the retail media partner, instead of through Nielsen as a third party, and we are also seeking similar arrangements to use our industry-leading analytic practices as a bridge in comparability for those same retail media partners.

Today’s retail media networks fall into a few distinct categories: digital marketplaces or platforms, mass merchandise or department stores, category specialists, commerce intermediaries and other commerce verticals. Grocery and grocery e-commerce still leads the sector growth. These high-growth verticals are areas where Nielsen has held particularly deep relationships within the industry, as we sit at the nexus of partnerships with advertisers, their agencies and the complex landscape of sell-side providers and supporting tech company enablers. More broadly, we look at our central role in the industry as a helpful asset to the retail media landscape that can bring synergistic partnerships together for mutual gains within the total media landscape.

What is the biggest challenge in retail media?

McClintock: Through the lens of the advertiser, represented by the ANA and other publications, the growth of retail media spending has made it a significant focus of the advertiser media budget, which in turn, makes the need for standardized metrics to compare media investments a huge priority. Nielsen strongly believes that we are on a path to enable that standardization as a common language already available and in use throughout the industry.

Can you share a bit about the company's digital ad ratings to solve for retail media fragmentation?

Park: Whether you’re a seller or buyer in the RMN/CM ecosystem, Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) can help deliver value by providing world-class insights on your audiences.  

Media buyers (brands, agencies and their partners) can maximize the return of their digital investment by having a comparable view of reach and frequency across CTV, web and mobile, including a retail media network’s on-site and off-site channels, from the audience their ads are reaching and optimizing in-flight campaigns to reduce waste.

Media sellers (retailers, FP data owners, DSPs, etc.) can better prove the value of their inventory and monetize based on audience rather than click-throughs.

The current DAR solution at Nielsen is integrating into Nielsen ONE, which combines the power of its best-in-class digital measurement across CTV, mobile and desktop with Linear TV, which is seamlessly deduplicated to enable better transparency for measuring audience reach, frequency and on-target percentages, and to refine cross-media optimization.

Combined with our ability to match and measure retail media first-party audiences, we provide them with the ability to utilize Nielsen to prove the effectiveness of both their on-site and off-site performance to their brand partners. Nielsen enables retail media networks to showcase their ability to build incremental brand reach and sales, even beyond their own properties.