Triad Retail Media CRO Quinn Looking To Add Intelligence Layer For Shopper Marketing With Operative Deal

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Triad Retail MediaAdvertising business management systems company Operative announced today that Triad Retail Media, a shopper marketing services provider, has signed on as a client for its Operative.One product. According to the release, Operative.One will help Triad "create and deliver new, competitive product packages; reduce unsold inventory; conduct inventory reporting and analysis; reduce campaign billing costs and error rates (...)" and more. Read the release.

Brian Quinn, chief revenue officer at Triad Retail Media and former VP/GM, Digital Ad Sales at The Wall Street Journal, discussed his views on digital advertising today including the implications of the Operative announcement.

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AdExchanger.com: Can you talk about what Triad Retail Media is?

BQ: Triad has been around for about seven years and is based in Tampa, Florida. The company started when CEO Greg Murtagh went to Wal-Mart about seven years ago and said, "You have all these brands that have all these resources and budgets trying to work with you in-store. Why don't you get them to promote their brands on your website?" That had never crossed their mind and that's how the company started. It's still a big core of what we do. Today, we have about 35 people in Bentonville, Arkansas, (Wal-Mart's HQ) which service the business.

Since then, we've added close to 15 retailers. Last year we added brick and mortar retailers like CVS, Barnes and Noble, and Rite‑Aid. And starting in January, we started working with eBay, which had been with Yahoo for about four years.

Yahoo was selling them, really, essentially like an ad network would. We're kind of the exact opposite to that approach. We not only have the shopper marketing focus, but also in the major markets we've invested in selling to ad agencies. So for eBay we've hired dedicated sellers to sell just for eBay, mainly at ad agencies.

Also, we're not just a rep firm. We have a 50-person content team. If you go to Wal-Mart.com and click on any banner you'll see robust brand showcases. We create all of that for the retail service.

How does Triad maximize yield for its clients?

By selling [the inventory] directly and selling the value of the audience - not just selling blind audience packaging like an ad network throwing some data on top. I would say that we produce a better yield just because we're directly representing the value, the audience, and the site. It's kind of old school in a way.

When I ran digital sales at The Wall Street Journal for five years, we never worked with ad networks for the most part. We tested them now and then at the WSJ, but I think a lot of publishers, in our opinion, made the mistake that they think that if they're not selling 100 percent of their inventory, then they're leaving money on the table. We really had the opposite view. Our goal was not to sell inventory, our goal was to exceed revenue goals. Sometimes you do that by only selling directly or creating scarcity. At Triad Retal Media, we talked to our partners about selling 60 percent of their inventory and having 40 percent go unsold.

Do you find display advertising getting more complex? Are you trying to simplify it for your clients?

I've been a premium display seller for a while and one of my frustrations has been the "conventional wisdom." You hear statements like, "Oh, display is dead." I say,"Well, wait a second. Who said so?" I think the reason is because in digital you've got all this creative firepower and technology firepower chasing the next thing, whether it be social or mobile or whatever. All I know is that when I look at my time at The Wall Street Journal, dozens of advertisers wanted to have the 300x250 on the home page for the whole day.

And they wanted to be there because it was the right audience. Sometimes we forget that when we're chasing all these shiny new objects, core display actually - if it's done right - is more powerful, especially now with all the data tools.

What would you say is the trigger for using Operative for Triad Retail Media?

When I got here in last July, Triad Retail Media had grown significantly. And because it's not an ad network, there's not a publishing platform. In fact, many of our sites use different ad servers. There's not that much efficiency on the back end consequently. And, we have a lot to sell. My experience with Operative while I was at The Wall Street Journal, was I felt we needed something to overlay all that, get more intelligence on what we have to sell which will help us understand where the opportunities are with inventory and improve our pipeline reports.

We have to report to all these different publishers on where we're at - it's very manual right now. So I thought something like Operative could bring media efficiency once we got it implemented.

Did you ever go through the process of thinking, "Well, the services that Operative is going to potentially provide you. I could build these in house"?

I think that's certainly something that every organization talks about. Look, you don't just sign the contract, plug it in and it starts working on Monday. There are weeks of implementation. We're a very complex partner for them, I know. But what I've always advocated is, look, this is built to do what we do. We have enough of our own, internal projects. To add this to something that already exists where I see the path to greater efficiency and cost savings is pretty clear. [Building this internally] wasn't discussed for too long.

What are the characteristics of the online shopper marketing world in the future as you see it from your Triad Retail Media standpoint?

A couple of things... We've been doing this with Wal‑Mart for seven years and we're still amazed that there are not more retailers with big digital footprints who want to do this. We talk to them. We'd love to partner. There's some that we can't because they're direct competitors of Wal-Mart, but we're still amazed, mainly because almost they don't want to be bothered.

It just seems like it's a no‑brainer. It's a great incremental revenue stream. One of the things the retailers like is we work really closely with their suppliers improving the experience. We do think it will eventually happen.

The other thing is that mobile is going to be enormous. We're trying to stay very close with our retailers on how they're developing in mobile and make sure that they're cautious before they apply a monetization strategy in order to insure a good customer experience.

The same way that Triad can monetize the website, we can do it with mobile. I saw Sean Finnegan CEO of Geomentum on CNBC the other day about hyperlocal. It's all about retail. We're very excited about that.

Also, one of the goals of our retailers this year is to try to get perfectly contextual advertising. They don't want to see any run of site. They want to see - if you're in the garden center, you should see garden related ads. Our clients see advertising as part of the experience.

Creating relevance is key. We try to get as smart as possible with our targeting tools to make it relevant as possible for the shoppers.

By John Ebbert

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