Part 3: Retail Media Standardization–How Connected Data Drives Better Results


The third installment in our series on retail media standardization delves into the pivotal role of connected data in enhancing marketing outcomes. We explore the unique challenges and solutions for different types of advertisers and the indispensable role of connected data in providing a comprehensive view of advertising performance and in driving more informed, efficient investment decisions.

Read all of the posts in this retail media standardization series.

As advertisers wait for retail media networks to standardize, partners like Skai can help them scale growth through tools and partnerships that offer greater data transparency, connectivity, and control. We already covered the benefits of data transparency. Now, let’s focus on connectivity.

“Connected data” means something different to each advertiser based on individual programs and goals. But all of us can agree on one thing: retail media can’t be disconnected from all other marketing efforts. Even marketers working only in retail media are typically managing multiple networks that need to be connected for a full picture of performance. According to the Association of National Advertisers, 56% of advertisers are managing at least five networks at a time. And that’s just retail media – consider all the additional channels that most advertisers manage! 

Consumers don’t shop in silos, so why do marketers still advertise that way? Managing retail media in a vacuum, separate from other media channels like display, CTV or social, limits a marketer’s ability to transform consumer experiences and drive incremental performance gains in the long term. At Skai, we view retail media as more than just a channel. We see it as this transformative layer that stretches across various marketing strategies and advertising touchpoints like search and social media. All of these digital touchpoints need to be connected for advertisers to make good, informed decisions about how to spend and where to reinvest. 

Let’s dive deeper into the connectivity needs of different types of advertisers.

The single-platform advertiser

Those who advertise just on Amazon need connected data across all the different ad formats that Amazon Ads offers to target consumers at every stage of their journey. A holistic marketing program for Amazon-only advertisers includes onsite ad formats like sponsored search, offsite formats like Amazon DSP or Amazon Prime, and fully offline custom packaging ads.

The biggest challenge that Amazon advertisers face is this: Amazon owns all of its customer data, regardless of whether the brand sells via first-party Vendor Central, third-party Seller Central, or a hybrid. And Amazon doesn’t make it easy to connect the dots across data. That makes it challenging to understand user journeys, conversion paths, the effectiveness of different media combinations, and the incremental impact of media combinations. 

Things are looking up for Amazon advertisers, however. Amazon is coming to terms with the fact that being able to prove performance from different ad types drives more investment, and that answering advertisers’ questions (like ”How does upper funnel media impact lower funnel media effectiveness?”) is a necessity for them to grow and scale their ads business. But Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC) still isn’t set up well for extracting actionable insights in a user-friendly way in the native platform.

How Skai helps Amazon Ads managers overcome connectivity challenges

Within the Skai platform, advertisers can run unlimited customizable AMC reports, transforming Amazon’s extensive data sets into intuitive visualizations. This helps advertisers understand Amazon campaign incrementality beyond standard last-click attribution in the native platform, unlocking multi-touch models and providing further insights into customer behavior and journey for performance optimization.

Here’s an example: A Skai client embarked on its journey with AMC via Skai and promptly identified key insights that significantly improved its campaign strategy. The organization needed help with a sub-brand that was contributing a meager 5% toward overall sales and was seemingly unprofitable. Initially, the brand considered eliminating investment. But Skai’s AMC Reporting revealed the sub-brand’s substantial brand introduction impact on their other brands. It featured in 14.3% of occurrences in the path-to-purchase report, a significant incremental value across the brand.

The retail media manager

Connectivity needs are more complex for retail media managers who work across multiple retail channels; they need connectivity not only vertically across different ad formats within a single retailer but also horizontally across multiple retailers.

The challenges that retail media managers face are more complex, too. Massive fragmentation, a lack of standardization, and different maturity levels across retailers all make it harder to connect data in a meaningful way.

How Skai helps retail media managers connect paid media

Skai helps unify all paid media in one place, but that’s just the beginning. With consolidated data, retail media managers can then add the true magic – automating and optimizing workflows.

Automated Actions allow marketers to schedule rules that kick in when certain conditions are met across all of the retailers they manage. Let’s say that costs per click have suddenly spiked on one retailer, or the return on ad spend is down week over week on another. When you manage multiple retailers individually, it would take time to realize this was happening. But with Skai, you get an immediate alert so you can take action.

There are even more sophisticated tools within the Skai platform. Pacing Monitor is a good example. It can be used to track how budget paces across channels, which would be a time-consuming and error-prone process via spreadsheets. Pacing Monitor can prevent costly overspending by automatically detecting and notifying retail media managers of any performance deviations from preset key performance indicators. 

Managing campaigns within native platforms could never offer this level of connectivity across retailers.

The direct-to-consumer and marketplaces manager

Many brands that sell on retail sites have their own direct-to-consumer (DTC) channels, too. And since consumers are everywhere online, activating across lots of different digital marketing channels, this advertising world is huge – and connecting data across all of it is important.

In a Skai survey of 150 marketers, 83% consider “search shopping” ads part of their retail media program, and 78% consider “social commerce” to be part of it, too. DTC and marketplace managers need connectivity across all digital, walled garden media, but they face the biggest challenges of all advertisers. Not only are customer paths to purchase increasingly non-linear and diversified but there are also so many more touchpoints to manage across the entire digital footprint. That’s why 80% of respondents to our State of Retail Media 2023 study stated that they have more work to do when it comes to tying digital channels together.

How Skai helps DTC and marketplace managers create deep connections across channels

Just like the retail media advertisers managing multiple retailers, DTC, and marketplace managers benefit from having all of their paid media in one place. But for these complex programs, it’s not just the hands-on-keyboard teams that need cross-channel connectivity. Increasingly, media executives realize the value of having one unified view of all programs.

Skai Decision Pro is a suite of features designed and built to help media executives stand taller than the walled gardens so they can see across them all and make better, faster decisions. Omnichannel visibility and connected data deliver the tailored alerts and insights needed for media forecasting, planning, and optimization. 

The bottom line: connectivity requires a third-party partner

For programs of all sizes and levels of complexity, running connected campaigns is key to success – yet it’s impossible to achieve true connectivity on your own or within native platforms. Truly connected, omnichannel advertising requires both unification in one platform and user-friendly tools that transform ingested data into insights and actions. Another key element to an omnichannel experience is advertiser control over how data is interpreted and used. Read more about data control here.