Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Retail media as the missing piece of the omnichannel puzzle

By Steve Martin, VP of Data Partnerships EMEA and APAC at The Trade Desk

Go back ten, twenty years – you’ll find a time when retail advertising meant seeing product deals at the end of the checkout as the cashier counted your change. 

The world has evolved at a dizzying pace since then, and retail media along with it. Now, retail advertising can mean anything from those same physical placements in your local supermarket, to a display advert on The Guardian.

There’s been a lot of buzz around retail media as an emerging channel with a bucket load of potential – and rightly so. Increasingly, it’s become clear that no effective omnichannel strategy is complete without this missing piece. 

Threading the needle between online and offline

Retail media today is steadily looking like the most sophisticated way to merge the online and offline worlds together, as closed-loop measurement means advertisers can incorporate in-store touchpoints into their stack of consumer insights.

Not only can brands now glean valuable insights from consumers’ in-person purchase activity, but the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the importance of up to date insight on consumers’ changing behaviours and preferences – insight which retailers are rightfully taking advantage of. According to Omnicom Media Group’s Chief Activation Officer, Megan Pagliuca, “Retail has evolved very quickly. Technologies that were previously ‘in the works’ have now become a reality.”

Across the pond in the US, The Trade Desk was proud to collaborate with Walmart as it announced last year its plans to revolutionise the way brands can use Walmart data through its media arm, Walmart Connect. Rich Lehrfeld, Senior VP of Walmart Connect believes that for advertisers, this signifies “a new frontier in digital advertising [that can] offer advertisers an open, transparent, and objective platform that they will want to use and benefit from.” 

Back on home soil, this looks like a trend only going in one direction, as household name Tesco revealed its intent to dramatically increase the opportunities to reach customers through media powered by Tesco data. And it’s likely that we’ll see many others follow in its footsteps. But how can this channel, with its huge pools of valuable data, be harnessed to its greatest potential?

Channels combined bring double the benefits

It’s becoming evident that retail is a lost piece of the omnichannel puzzle for marketers which, when used alongside other powerful channels such as CTV, brings advertisers valuable benefits. Advanced capabilities in retail media such as targeting and sales measurement can also be applied to CTV. This means that Walmart’s DSP, for example, now has access to the most premium video inventory on the market. 

This is crucial as The Trade Desk has spent years-and-years building this CTV and premium video marketplace. What we’ve now unlocked is the ability to put sales measurement in Walmart stores and online properties in conjunction with what is the most effective form in the history of advertising – the television in the living room.

It’s apparent, then, that the size of the opportunity at hand is enormous – and one that advertisers should be firmly grasping with both hands.

Embrace the first-mover advantage whilst you still can

It’s now clear as day that when properly utilised, retail media can enable advertisers to have a totally different set of tools in their box. Advertisers that embrace this with open arms by volunteering to try new channels first, or participate in testing phases, are those who reap the greatest rewards. 

In order to seize the moment [before the moment becomes the mainstream], advertisers must ensure they’re using all tricks up their sleeve, or even combining them by using retail and CTV channels together, to get as close to the point of purchase as possible.