Budgets under pressure
Competition is intensifying amid rising consumer prices and supply constraints, two trends that could weigh on brand budgets. The consumer price index hit its highest level in four decades at 7.9% last month than the prices on the essentials as food and household items skyrocket.
Swiftly, a nearly five-year-old startup, is one of a host of new companies partnering with grocers and pharmacies such as Family Dollar to expand their e-commerce sites as well as media networking capabilities for their own canals. The company, which recently raised $100 million in a Series B funding round, said he was seeing increased interest from retailers keen to navigate the congested field, especially at a time when shoppers are limiting their spending.
“Consumers have shown that when prices start to rise, they are hungry to be able to stretch their money as much as possible,” said Sean Turner, co-founder and chief technology officer, noting that retailers can take advantage of this thirst by offering better services around discounts and inventory on their own channels. For example, if Tide runs an ad promotion through a retailer’s media network that offers $1 off a product, Swiftly will help the retailer show a shopper exactly how much the product will cost with coupons and if they’re in stock.
“We not only provide the advertising layer, but we also provide the retail platform that sits under that advertising layer,” Turner said. “That’s how you can take an ad placement and make it something that’s native to the platform and looks like content, it doesn’t look like spam.”
Delivery to store
According to experts, one of the biggest opportunities retailers are exploring is in-store, both in terms of ads and data. Despite the explosive growth of e-commerce during the pandemic, grocery essentials is still taking place within brick-and-mortar boundaries and retailers are giving brands new ways to reach these shoppers. These offers include television screens in stores, an initiative startups such as Cooler Screens experiment, as well as in-store audio ads.
Albertsons Co., the parent company of grocers including Safeway and Jewel-Osco, recently hired Kristi Argyilan, who ran Target Roundel’s media business, build your own media network. Albertsons Media Collective went live a few weeks ago, said Argyilan, senior vice president of retail media at the Boise, Idaho-based company. For brands, Albertsons is currently offering “the opportunity to participate in in-store sampling and audio and plans to roll out additional initiatives later this year,” she added, noting that in-store “creates an engagement among our customers and an opportunity for brands.”
At Criteo, Smith said the company is responding to many requests from retailers with gas stations to integrate digital screens at the pump for advertisements.
“They get creative and think about how they put it together on every level,” she said. Of course, effective measurement of such advertising depends on the knowledge of buyers when making transactions. Encouraging shoppers to use loyalty programs at checkout, rather than cash, can help identify customers and provide more data.
“The moment you start showing the impact of online ad exposure on those in-store sales, it completely opens up that ROI equation and it starts driving a lot more investment,” Lipsman said, noting that the strategy of introducing offline sales data for targeting and measurement purposes is still nascent. “E-commerce offers a tight closed loop: when you buy a search ad from a retailer’s website, you see a closed loop, but it’s much harder and the systems aren’t ‘architected’ to measure in-store sales,” he noted. .
Additionally, marketers need to be careful not to be too intrusive with in-store displays. Cooler Screens, which displays digital ads on freezer and refrigerator doors at select Walgreens stores, recently caught flak confused customers, for example. A buyer complained about being constantly advertised, according to CNN. “Ordinary glass works great,” wrote a consumer on Twitter.