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Retail Media Summit UK Recap

Did you miss Retail Media Summit UK in London last month? Catch up on all you missed here.

A mix of retailers, brands, solution providers and marketing professionals gathered in Shoreditch, London, on Oct. 11 for the Path to Purchase Institute's first-ever Retail Media Summit UK. The sold-out event, in collaboration with agency SMG, shined a spotlight on the rise of retail media networks in the U.S. and England, key learnings and different approaches to retail media between the countries, and the opportunities available — both in-store and online — to run more impactful, holistic and efficient campaigns.

Key trends throughout a packed day focused on the evolution of in-store media — from traditional corrugate to digital and dynamic screens — the need for standardized and accurate measurement methodologies to help measure the return on investment, and why investment in creative has never been more important. At the heart of all the sessions was the need to put the consumer first, with retailers in the ideal position to ensure that the delivery of content on retail media networks entertains, informs and helps shoppers by providing relevant and time-appropriate messages, in the right format.

Read on for a few key highlights from the day and click here to share your interest in our next Retail Media Summit UK. 

Chris R. High Res
Chris Riegel, CEO and founder of Stratacache

In-store Digital 2.0: Enhancing Revenue with Sensors and Personalization

Combining cart tracking and loyalty card data can provide a rich seam of insights for brands and retailers, unleashing the power of in-store screens, according to Chris Riegel, CEO and founder of Stratacache.

The company manages about 3.2 million screens globally and Riegel said that the industry is moving from a 1.0 network to sensor-based, with much more intelligence and based around data sets.

“The evolution is about bringing in better positioning with [General Data Protection Regulation] that is personalized but not overstepping the mark,” he explained of the process and privacy challenges.

“CPG and FMCG companies frequently discuss wanting smarter networks, so we need to consider how we drive more data from stores, because retailers garnered $88 billion in global advertising revenue last year, and this year it is set to be $101 billion,” he said. “While e-commerce growth is stalling, physical stores still attract 70% of all consumer spend.”

Riegel said that the U.S. – where privacy laws are less stringent than in the U.K. and Europe – has seen a boom in retail media networks, and claimed that the U.K. is not far behind. In the U.S., screens tend to be aimed at shopper conversion and engagement, while in the U.K. there is more of a similarity with typical out-of-home marketing.

He stressed that retailers needed to think about deeper data that drives up advertising rates, which are a high-margin revenue source, and ask to bring online metrics into the store and make that trackable.

“Traditionally brands are paying for eyeballs,” said Riegel, warning that stricter privacy regulations meant that traditional ways of capturing information were no longer viable. He proposed an alternative approach: “Every digital display is a capture point. Put a tag on a cart or basket so that you are tracking the trolley, not the person and match them back to the customer loyalty point when they check-out,” he said. “That way you are building real-time data to rival click through.”

Riegel added: “In tracking the path, you can build very precise categories. Retailers know what [consumers] buy but not what they don't buy or express an interest in. The fact that someone showed interest in a TV is valuable for an electronics company, because they can be retargeted online. The store is the most data-intensive opportunity and then they can micro-target the customer.”

He encouraged retailers to look at their store as a data lab and added that some retailers have already optimized their stores around some of the sensor data they have recorded, so above and beyond the media aspect, they can also drive back to the merchandising teams.

“A conversion network can be far more valuable than an impression network,” said Riegel.

Tom W.
Tim Woollias, sales director and CPG, Pinterest

Pinterest Insights and Trends

Using Pinterest as an inspiration platform and as a predictive tool for trends can help brands and retailers refine their product and marketing strategies, according to the U.S. social media platform.

“We see it as a visual discovery platform at the intersection of search, social and commerce,” said Tim Woollias, sales director and CPG, Pinterest. “In all, 97% of searches are unbranded and 88% of our weekly users are on the path to purchase. We call it ‘discover, decide, do.’”

He warned that “consideration is shrinking” as he pointed to the company’s annual Pinterest Predicts report, due out later this year, which uses expert interpretation of the data the company collects to make predictions about the year ahead.

“We look for patterns and trends and filter, then refine them into a trend, then vet them for inclusiveness [that they apply to everyone], and accountability – because we also go back and check how we have done,” he said.

Over the last three years, 80% of Pinterest’s predictions have come true, said Woollias, which he said was a far higher rate than most predictive studies.

“As a marketer these offer creative inspiration, product development, and merchandising guidance,” he said.

Gen Z is the fastest growing demographic on Pinterest and Woolliass referenced a number of trends that last year’s report had identified and that had become ubiquitous since, including mushrooms as a trend of home decor in fantasy. This picked up and grew over the course of the year.

“Trends tend to last longer,” he said. “And we saw that cross over into fashion and beauty.”

In 2022, “dopamine dressing” (or very bright colors) dominated the year and in 2023 has expanded into decor.

Because of the nature of homewares and furniture, he reflected that this is a harder category to adapt to a trend, compared with fashion.

“Trends on Pinterest take off faster, last longer and cross categories. You can use trends to drive sales and you can also trust the predictions,” he stressed.

Woollias also pointed out that Pinterest users tend to search early, meaning they are good indicators of emerging trends.

“Insights and marketing can help with tailored-to-vendor needs,” he added.

Dan Sands
Firework Director Dan Sands

The Role of Interactive Video for Retail Media

Video commerce platforms can be used to drive conversion and loyalty, bridging the gap between in-store and online, according to Firework Director Dan Sands.

“The pandemic saw video become a primary communication method,” he said. “It also shows desire for human connection, which doesn't leave us when we become shoppers, whether in a physical or a digital environment.”

Video plays an important role in the customer journey, according to Sands, who pointed to research that shows that more than 55% of shoppers worldwide say that they use online video while shopping in-store as evidence of the importance of screens and appropriate content.

“We can see marketers using video increasingly across the media channels. It also helps to drive loyalty as it provides the opportunity for brands to tell their story,” he added.

However, he also stressed that in order to get the full impact of content, agencies, brands and retailers needed to understand the role of in-store media and video on websites and begin to think more deeply about how that fits with the customer journey and the brand objectives.

“How do you bring more of the video media into the online journey?” he asked. “We believe that video commerce will drive the evolution of retail media, with a shift away from sponsored searches and static images [on web pages]. It will help brands to deliver at the top of the funnel and become more personalized against specific requirements and more immersive and interactive.”

Video created an opportunity to move away from static imagery to an approach combining sight, sound and motion, Sands said. He said that brands which had tested short form video had experienced higher click through, higher conversion and higher average order value.

Higher dwell on social media shows that consumers are happy to engage with video content, and can provide ideas for occasions, bringing in relevant suppliers and partners to showcase relevant content.

“The chat column [on social media videos] also provides valuable insight,” Sands said. “Some of the best content we see is also authentic, like an in-store employee putting their expertise in a product category online. There is also the opportunity to build experiences like meals for the week, things that matter to consumers.”

Driving Retail Media Results: The Pivotal Role of Omnichannel Marketing in Transforming Your RMN

The way we buy has changed beyond recognition, according to Lee LeFeuvre, chief commercial officer, SMG, who pointed out that consumers are switching across channels all the time.

“We have seen a huge proliferation of media channels, making it hard to pick one alone that will still reach a sizable audience,” he added.

LeFeuvre said that the industry tends to use the word omnichannel to describe multi-faceted marketing campaigns “a little too generously” and, in reality, most companies have adopted multichannel marketing for their promotions and campaigns.

“The customer journey is no longer linear,” he said, as he advocated a focus on loyalty programs and the rich data that they can reveal.

“The U.K. has looked to North America to take inspiration in maximizing retailer first-party data,” he said, pointing to the take-up of loyalty cards when greater price incentives are introduced for card holders. “[U.K. grocery chain] Tesco has seen its Clubcard usage increase from 60% to 80% and an increase from 14 million to 20 million users since it introduced Tesco Clubcard prices.”

However, even that is still below loyalty program membership in the U.S., where some retailers have achieved 95% of sales via loyalty cards.

LeFeuvre also pointed to the advantages of joined-up campaigns, especially with traditional cardboard in-store media moving towards digital executions.

“Retailers and brands need to have one point of contact to oversee a campaign, especially a 360-degree campaign which can also be assessed,” he said of consolidating activities. “The chosen touchpoints then need to achieve their objectives; execution has changed but the strategy is the same – target the right shoppers with the right message using the right media.”

RMS UK panel
L-R on sofa: Michael Schuh, VP media strategy & product, Kroger Precision Marketing; Jemma Haley, business lead retail media & supplier insights, John Lewis Partnership; David Berube, head, retail media, UNFI; Rosie Houston, managing director, Boots Media

Panel: Evolving the Retail Media Industry – How Will We Know as Retailers If We've Been Successful?

“I'm excited for the day that retail media just becomes media,” said Michael Schuh, vice president media strategy & product, Kroger Precision Marketing, as part of a retailer panel discussing how implementation and measurement of retail media is evolving.

“We have a very strong loyalty program and what we've proven time and again is that any store purchase is often influenced by digital, whether that's a coupon or an advert online or TV. It's about how you connect with the consumer digitally,” he said. “In all, 96% of Kroger sales are via loyalty card. So that provides access to lots of data information, which can help brands be more effective.”

However, Schuh warned that for retail media networks to really gain traction the industry needs to agree on some common measurement methodology so that brands are able to compare like-for-like results.

“It’s a myth that it is about digital only,” Schuh said. “What's important is that retail media has grown so fast and without the right standards in place everyone is doing things differently. Everyone can have a different system, but if you are going to use metrics, you have to be transparent about that to help lift the industry."

Jemma Haley, business lead retail media & supplier insights, John Lewis Partnership, agreed and added: “Retail media has existed in different guises, but why it's come to prominence is through data insights for brands. Ultimately that's why brands invest in us. Also, there are very few channels out there with full-funnel solutions. We know we have a fantastic suite of touchpoints for brands to use, but we need to work harder on where brands can be part of our overarching campaigns, which is a key focus for us.”

She said that JLP – which includes department store group John Lewis and upscale grocery chain Waitrose – wants to help brands understand customer behavior and to ensure that if the retailer is building a campaign for them that it can help with insights.

“We need to change the perception of a retail media as a trading tax, but we can’t do that if there isn't a return there or it’s not addressing their needs, which is why it's so important for retailers to have a structured proposition in place,” she insisted.

David Berube, head of retail Media, UNFI, added that as a grocery retail distributor, he believed that the industry needed to look at “how we bring similar capabilities across a huge number of retailers and a lack of standardization.”

He added: “Stores are extremely important, over 90% of sales and orders happen in-store. But consumers often start that journey online.”

Rosie Houston, managing director of Boots Media Group, insisted that there had been huge progress [in measurement] but said that currently different retailers are at different points in the journey.

“At Boots, we have made good progress with the brands and feels more of a choice now,” she said. “But there is a fair way to go. When we first started, it always felt more than just an investment stream and there is a big difference in how BMG is viewed within Boots now.”

Recently the CMO called BMG the “jewel in Boots' crown,” she said. “You have to convince the retailer there are more benefits. However, the biggest myth is that it's plug and play, but in fact so much goes into it. My advice is don't just go where the noise is; really think about your customer and your brands.”

The Industry Is Calling for Measurement Standards, but How Do We Make It a Reality?

With so much variation in how the impact of retail media networks are measured, Clare O'Brien, head of media performance and effectiveness, ISBA, and Bianca Hall, insight director, SMG, outlined progress on a framework for responsible retail media.

O'Brien said that the aim was to champion the creation of an open and consistent landscape where “brands know what to ask for and retailers know what to aspire to.”

With the retail media sector a diverse industry, the focus has been on data availability, definitions of impressions, definitions of new to brand/category, and transparent attribution.

“We’re looking at common metrics on impressions, clicks, sales/spend, and noise,” she said.

Hall added that barriers include technical, loyalty card data coverage, and the complexity of the retail media landscape. She conceded that tech stacks can prove hard to extract information from.

“In terms of loyalty cards, we must have good enough coverage to gather the insight and metrics,” she said. “Retailers have very diverse toolkits and that means working with multiple different media owners, all with different tech stacks, KPIs and metrics for success.” 

She suggested prioritizing KPIs and added that, “if I was a brand, I would question all metrics.”

The Magic of Measurement

Ross Paterson, measurement partner, TikTok, called for simplicity as he stressed that, in creating KPIs, brands needed to be clear about what business problem they are setting, and what they are trying to test.

“If you test everything, it can come out muddled,” he said. “Identify what you are trying to do and learn from that. At TikTok we're really big on creative. Brands should always be creating content for the specific platform and making it an engaging piece of entertainment. But tell them the what and why, sometimes in creative we don't focus on the why enough.”

Paterson also recommended media alignment was best practice, as an example saying that a nine- to 12-week campaign saw greater efficiencies through cumulative frequency and also noted that brands and retailers need to be wary of external factors that can occur during a campaign, such as competitor activity, or availability issues.

Natalie Collins, U.K. strategic partnerships director, Dunnhumby, agreed and advised retailers and brands to start with a simple framework because “it's really easy to get caught up in the complexities.”

She added that for the best results: “For brands, bring your key teams together and align on a single KPI and get out there and test, but don't try and test everything at once.”

Naomi Yonge, data science consultant manager, LiveRamp, said that KPIs are dependent on the category and she said that larger companies with a strong market share would typically look at share and new customers, while for a new company, growth would be more important. 

“Pick one key thing to test across campaigns,” she said. “The future for brands will be tracking across different store formats and a budget shift away from cookies to new media channels, which is where measurement is going to be really key.”

Paul B
Paul Brenner, SVP retail media and partnerships, Vibenomics

Closing the Loop: In-Store Digitization and the Future of Omnichannel Retail Media

Replacing cardboard with audio or digital content will require major capital commitments of up to $1 million to equip a store, warned Paul Brenner, SVP, retail media and partnerships, Vibenomics, of the transformation from traditional to new in-store media.

He pointed to insufficient technology solutions, fragmented retail media channels, operational inefficiencies and questioned where in-store fits.

“In-store is one to many, measured as one to one. Whatever tech or content you put in, has to keep working and be maintained,” he said. “Omnichannel is about reflecting the marketing efforts on the store, with content aligned with the function of the zone. Don't think of it as separate. It has to be engaging. If you do it right, you'll get the best results.”

He said that he saw growing use of the triggering of the loyalty app, but this has to be triggered holistically and retailers need to ask: “Where should I put the screen? What format? What activity [should match the location] and what should be paid and non-paid.”

“I think 2024 will prove a growth year for audio, when we’ll see a test for the first six months,” he said. “Then 2025 is when it will really come to life.”

RMS Panel
(From left to right) P2PI Editorial Director Jessie Dowd moderates session with (from left to right) Lee Roberts, head of sales, Dunnhumby, Michele Dainty, head of shopper & display, Pladis, and Neil Robins, head of digital & media, Kenvue

Confessions from the Retail Media Trenches

Retailers and brands need to focus on retail media networks as a store opportunity, not just as an e-commerce play, with in-store screens blurring the lines between in-store and digital channels, according to a retail and brand panel “reporting back from the trenches.”

“From a brand perspective, there is so much opportunity, constantly getting pressure internally, and as a biscuit brand, we have had to look at all the different touchpoints before [customers] get in store and how we get shoppers down the aisle,” said Michele Dainty, head of shopper & display, Pladis.

In a market that is impulse and promotion driven, the company has been looking at additional activities over and above promotions to target shoppers outside that purchase.

“We need to build back the equity, especially against own label,” she added. “As a business we have step-changed out of silos, all the way up the funnel, looking at it from a shelf back point of view.”

Neil Robins, head of digital & media, Kenvue, said that his company wanted to be at the cutting edge, trying new things and getting the learnings from them.

“Retail media networks are more complex in terms of attributing sales,” he conceded. “People tend to look at short-term ROI, which is a bit short sighted. One of the more intangible benefits is to try and drive innovation and stronger relationships with the customers.”

While he supported the removal of silos and more focus on campaigns and less on specific activities, he said that he was waiting to see how the “tug of war about how investment is allocated” would play out if all the different functions worked more seamlessly, rather than being attributed to their own distinct budgets.

“I can see there being a little bit of friction there. How do we budget across total media channels?” he asked.

With the power of loyalty cards a constant theme throughout the event, Lee Roberts, head of sales, Dunnhumby, pointed to the breadth of data and research that had come from the 21 million Clubcard holders in its venture with Tesco, providing scale, geography and demographics.

“Customers are always shopping omnichannel, and we now have 1,000 digital screens in-store [at Tesco], and have also built out relationships with TV media. The opportunity is to engage across all media on the journey,” he said. “There is a tendency to default retail media networks to e-commerce, but actually retail media is about many channels all at once and there's a lack with some brands operating across all those channels.”

He said that the company was active in building out the connected store, linking channels and getting all key stakeholders around the table, to plan holistically.

“There is a lot of fragmentation still. There are big opportunities for bigger activations such as content like World Mental Health Day,” he said.

Towards True Omnichannel Retail Media: Where Does In-store Media Fit?

“Omnichannel is bigger than we all realize, but are we really offering that true omnichannel solution?” asked Alison Dunham, senior director partnerships, Advertima, pointing to a $100 billion opportunity for the next third wave of display and search.

“In all the excitement, digital advertising is much larger than online, it will be fueled online but in-store is being spoken about so much. Online and offline have to work in tandem,” she said. “There is a massive opportunity being missed if you are not thinking about how you connect with shoppers in-store.”

The challenge was that in terms of the audience, addressability and real time measurement remained difficult away from the digital channels and Dunham insisted that these needed to be brought in-store.

She said that the next stage for digital in-store retail network media would be about dynamically changing the content to suit the shopper on a real time basis.

“Not every shopper is visible in-store, which we've been used to online,” she added. “We need to segment in real time, target the shopper in real time. In-store is about discovery, but how many times have we walked past static point of sale and it’s just not relevant.”

Meet the Tech! Innovative Solutions Driving Value for Retail Media and the Brands Investing in Them

A successful retail media network requires an equal balance of value between the consumer, brand, and retailers, according to Chris Grimsey, VP of sales EMEA, Clinch.

“That way you can generate incrementality and customer satisfaction. We need to look at offsite formats across in-store, digital and out-of-home,” he said. “There are tactical goals to focus on, speed to market, operational efficiency, rapid optimization, data application and enrichment.”

Grimsey recommended using automation to “scale very quickly” and said that brands needed an agile platform, enabling them to “implement a model that works and rinse and repeat.”

He said that the focus should be on rapid optimization and looking at what works best per audience.

“Look at different cohorts and what works best with different audiences,” he suggested. “Your media dollar doubles up as a research dollar.”

The Trends That Define Retail Media’s Higher Purpose

“Advertising is changing the world. Retail media is changing advertising,” said Michael Schuh, VP, media strategy & product, Kroger Precision Marketing, in the final session.

“There is a higher purpose. We want to deliver a great customer experience,” said Schuh, identifying a number of key trends.

“Retailers know shoppers better than anyone. Retail data science is helping to drive efficiency for brands,” he said. “When you send the right message to the right person you can make an impact with meaningful messages.

“You can deliver the same impact as third-party programmatic advertising for 51% less impressions, which is also an environmental boon, because 1 million ad impressions equals 1 metric ton of CO2,” he stressed.

He also advocated for measurement that matters and stressed that better measurement can drive growth, even optimizing campaign performance if brands, retailers and agencies can use real-time data and redeploy it.

“All kinds of factors are making it harder online to use data,” he said of the growing restrictions to do with privacy regulations. “Retailers are in a great position to help brands make smarter decisions.”

Schuh also pointed to what he dubbed “modernized marketing” and said that traditional tech stacks were built for third-party data, but first-party data that protects privacy represents the next generation of advertising technology.

“We chose to develop that part ourselves, where we can help consumers through a consumer facing approach. It’s a consumer-first future,” he said. “We should serve up what they always order first and then provide inspiration for something new. This is just the beginning of an industry-wide change in media. Inefficient media is really no longer an option. It has to evolve and help lift a consumer-first environment.”

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