Yesterday, I hosted a LinkedIn Live episode of Skai’s ongoing “Ask the Experts Live” series on the topic of commerce advertising. The panel of marketing experts that joined me for this event included:
- Lex Josephs, Vice President Sales & Ad Operations @ Walmart Media Group
- Kerry Curran, Executive Director, Marketing and Growth @ Catalyst, GroupM Services, US
- Mark Stamps, Vice President, Digital Commerce @ Harvest Group
Commerce advertising, the fastest-growing channel in marketing
As you can read in our recent report, Commerce Advertising: Retailer Private Ad Marketplaces Cater to the New Needs of Manufacturers, the retail and shopping category has gone through a major transformation over the last decade. Manufacturers, once solely focused on brand marketing, now engage in digital advertising to stimulate online sales and to reinvent the way that they build relationships with consumers.
Within online stores, retailers are creating new opportunities for manufacturers to speak directly to their customers through new types of advertising and product promotions. Commerce advertising offers manufacturers a powerful and rapidly expanding marketing channel that can reach interested shoppers further down the funnel than ever before—at the point of purchase. As branded manufacturers become data-driven performance marketers and are able to show high and expanding ROI to their finance organizations, more ad dollars are unlocked to flow to retailers.
With commerce advertising solutions taking off, we thought it would make an interesting topic to discuss with leading marketers.
Insights from the Ask the Experts Live panel
The following are a few excerpts from the LinkedIn Live event.
Panel Question: What could be the COVID-19 impact on consumer behavior that could persist when we get back to the “new normal?”
Josephs: I’ve been saying recently that “we aren’t going to be what we were, but we’re not going to be what we currently are.” There’s quite a bit of ambiguity on what’s going to happen, but I think the one thing we can all safely say is that we’re not going to revert back into standard customer behaviors. What I see at Walmart that will likely continue is concern around customer safety—both shopping in the store as well as doing anything that could potentially negatively impact families.
Curran: One area of consumer shopping behavior that I think will continue is the increased usage of online grocery shopping. I’ve been a huge advocate of online groceries for so long time and as a working mom and have been trying to convince many friends to do it, but they’ve been hesitant. But at this time, they’ve had to try it. A lot of people have and will continue to buy groceries online moving forward.
Josephs: Our grocery app was the number one app downloaded in April.
Panel Question: What convinced Walmart to go down the commerce advertising path?
Josephs: We understand that we have a really great competitive advantage with omnichannel sales data. We know how 95% of America shops both in-store and online across every touchpoint—in-app, on desktop, etc. We realized early that we really had something here.
For many years, we had a media business outsourced to another company, but the reason why we decided to in-source this was because we really needed to have a handle on what type of data we could offer to suppliers, what type of customer experience would exist, and how that is complemented by the ads experience. Also, we wanted to make sure that we had the best product, data set, value proposition, and consultative sales solution that suppliers expect.
Stamps: Brands and advertisers have been demanding more data and control over their digital investments—and Walmart’s new platform has been giving them what they need which has created the confidence to invest more in the Walmart ecosystem.
Curran: To have that level of data and control over advertising with such a big partner like Walmart is very valuable to media strategy and planning.
from the LinkedIn Live event, clockwise from the top right:
Lex Josephs, Mark Stamps, Kerry Curran, Josh Dreller
Panel Question: How do brands pivot to maximize this new opportunity?
Stamps: Just like new product innovation, it’s a bit of an iterative process of testing and learning. Brands that are moving the fastest are flexible and investing early. I’ve seen a lot of brands “wait and see” as new digital channels have opened up throughout the years and they’ve been left out of the opportunity.
Curran: Brands that are seeing success right now have an integrated team internally across brand, ecommerce, and digital marketing with all parties getting a seat at the table. They’re looking at this channel as a priority and not as an afterthought.
Panel Question: What’s the future of grocery?
Curran: Historically, online grocery was about perishables that you didn’t want to be shipped for 2 days or longer. Now, online grocery is everything including shampoo, over-the-counter medicine, and laundry detergent. But it’s also your bread, your frozen goods, the right kind of hot dogs your kids want…it’s the holistic basket. Everything you would have gone to a brick and mortar for. I recently ordered a bouquet of flowers for a neighbor from my online grocer because I didn’t have time to get to the store.
Stamps: This is so important for brands from a holistic perspective—and it’s not just like other marketing channels which are measured on a strict “dollar in-dollar out” approach. For example, in online grocery, if a consumer buys from your competitor, it’s going to be harder to get them to buy your product in the future because every time they go back to that online grocery store, they will be prompted to buy that competitor product again. That’s why I continue to encourage brands to invest in this space now because the early acquisition of that consumer is going to be important.
Watch the Ask the Experts Live event and download a complimentary copy of the report
The excerpts in this post are just a fraction of the valuable insights shared by our expert panel. Please visit Skai’s LinkedIn page to view yesterday’s event to learn more.
Also, read the Skai report, Commerce Advertising: Retailer Private Ad Marketplaces Cater to the New Needs of Manufacturers, where you will learn more about this fascinating channel, what is its driving growth, and just how big the opportunity can be for retailers.
- The rise of commerce advertising
- The 5 powerful value propositions for marketers
- The major retailers involved in the channel
- The infrastructure requirements to offer commerce advertising
- Whether retailers should build, buy, or partner to accelerate their solutions