In 2022 many consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketers are exploring, testing and attempting to understand the expansive Retail Media Network landscape. 

For those of you who may not know, a retail media network is first-party shopper data (most often powered by loyalty card data) made available from a retailer for marketers to leverage in their advertising campaigns for audience targeting and shopper sales lift measurement. 

Three reasons stick out as the driver of their popularity. One is the transition to ecommerce over the last decade, a shift particularly evident during the pandemic. The second is the continuing decline of third-party cookies and the need for CPG marketers to access first-party data to understand their shoppers’ buying behavior within the walls of their key retail customers — similar to Amazon, who paved the way for a successful retail media network, according to eMarketer. The third reason is the blending of the physical and digital buying experience that catalyzed commerce in the wake of Covid-19.  

While first-party shopper data provides an invaluable platform for specific retail marketing efforts, the complement of a people-based advertising software allows CPG marketers to realize the full benefits of retail media networks across all biddable touchpoints of a shopper journey. 

The Rise of Retail Media Networks

Retail media is not a new concept. Most marketers know the topline value of the traditional and mutually beneficial retail media business model: A retailer buys a product from a brand and, as part of their joint business partnership, the brand commits advertising dollars to promote the product at that specific retailer. 

Traditional retail media and shopper marketing includes end cap displays, in-store signage, coupon programs, in-store demos, sampling and other in-store driving tactics to incentivize consumers to purchase while in a physical store. 

As mentioned, the online and offline lines of the shopper journey have become blurred, resulting in a major increase of brand advertising dollars from in-store to online digital channels including both retailer onsite and offsite media executions.

Retail media networks developed — and are still maturing rapidly — as retailers realize the rising importance of first-party data while third-party cookies continue to disappear. 

Even though this has changed the relationship between retailers and brands from partnership to buyer-seller, both parties benefit. Retailers now have a new revenue stream, while brands can utilize a retailer’s first-party shopper data for their marketing efforts, including in campaigns outside of a retailer’s website.

While retail media networks serve their purpose for retail-specific lower funnel sales driving campaigns, they are still nascent when it comes to understanding the entire consumer’s path to purchase across the programmatic ecosystem in a full-funnel capacity.

Driving Consumer Path to Purchase by Focusing on the Household

Knowing that retail media networks still fall short when it comes to serving as a full-service DSP, CPG marketers need a more holistic and programmatic people-based approach with a focus on the household to craft a full-funnel marketing campaign using retail media network data. 

Why the household? 

Think of this way: Buying decisions still occur at the household level. This behavior intensified with the rise of multi-generational households during the pandemic. With that in mind, advertisers need to be able to match the first-party approach they are taking with retail media networks across their entire media mix, not just when activating lower funnel retail-specific campaigns. Viant’s Household ID (VHHID) and identity graph provide CPG marketers with that solution. 

Together with our partners, Viant tracks 449M+ loyalty cards—deterministically matched on a 1:1 basis from NCS, Catalina and IRI to Viant’s identity graph. CPGs can use VHHID to leverage offline buying behaviors across brand/product line, basket size, purchase cycle and loyalty/consumption levels entirely without the presence of cookies. Thus, whenever one of the 449M physical loyalty cards is used at checkout, those basket items are mapped back to Viant’s identity graph of people-based identifiers.

This level of determinism eliminates the guesswork and modeling that has historically plagued brand managers and agencies executing purchase-based tactics due to the ambiguity and inaccuracy of cookies. 

With a householding approach, CPG marketers can also seamlessly bridge the gap between shared household-level devices such as TV to individual shoppers’ devices such as desktop, mobile and tablet. VHHID serves as that connective tissue to reach a shopper, regardless of what device they are on, with relevant messaging to seamlessly move them along the path to purchase and ultimately in-store to buy.

Let’s Look at an Example

A major soap brand is looking to increase their household penetration and category share across the US at a few key retailers, and also planning on executing specific retail media executions to accomplish lower funnel ROAS at each store. But how is the soap brand reaching shoppers at earlier stages and on other channels beyond the walls of a retail media network? By messaging them wherever they are in their path to purchase — while watching TV, listening to their favorite podcast or reading the news on their mobile device — all while maintaining persistency throughout the consumer journey.

It is critical the major soap brand reaches shoppers across all of these channels even before the retail media networks can drive in-store to buy to ensure they are promoting awareness, consideration and intent prior to purchase. Viant’s people-based approach with a focus on the household knows exactly which households and linked devices fall into their target audience through the matching of household identifiers to shopper data. Now the soap brand can manage reach and frequency across all stages of the purchase journey to ensure not only the largest qualified audience is reached, but that they are managed by way of a persistent identifier (i.e., the VHHID).

By maintaining persistency via people-based identifiers matched to shopper data, brands can solve for audience fall out and data loss caused by cookie-based methodologies due to their lack of presence in ~78% of digital ad opportunities, tailor messaging to consumers based on wherever they are in their individual path to purchase and avoid audience churn throughout a campaign. 

By the time these audiences reach retail media network style executions, CPG brands will know they are ready to buy and drive incrementality at shelf.

Perfecting the Path to Purchase: Reach, Frequency and Measurement

Using tailored messaging to move consumers down a path to purchase is a great use of the household identifier-matched first-party data from retail media networks. But it is only one part of the puzzle. 

A people-based approach focusing on the household also allows for increased reach and frequency management, not to mention closed-loop in-flight and post-campaign measurement to understand which channels are actually driving consumers in-store (and which are not) and thus providing optimization efficiencies along the way to retail media network execution

So, alongside tailored messaging, marketers can strategically execute campaigns to target audiences across each device without fear of over messaging. Measurement-wise, the persistency of aggregated loyalty card data matched to Viant’s Household ID allows marketers to see if media drove an in-store purchase on a true 1:1 household basis.

As consumers return to stores after over two years of mostly digital buying during the quarantine, brands will need sophisticated campaigns to navigate this emerging retail landscape. 

Retail media networks, paired with a people-based advertising approach like Viant’s Household ID, provide marketers the tools to craft a full-funnel path to purchase that can encourage brand loyalty as the shopping experience enters a new era.