Home retail media Putting The ‘Fun’ Into The Fundamentals Of Retail Media Standardization

Putting The ‘Fun’ Into The Fundamentals Of Retail Media Standardization

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You know you’re at an advertising conference when people get excited about the idea of setting retail media standards.

“That’s when the fun starts,” said Amman Badlani, executive director and head of search at GroupM, speaking at Advertising Week in New York on Monday.

By “fun,” Badlani means being able to consistently measure return on ad spend tied to retail media campaigns and easily comparing results across different retailers.

As much as there’s been hype and excitement around retail media, the category could grow faster if there were standards in place to make data collaboration easier, automate ad buying across networks and improve measurement, particularly with more transparency in reporting.

Stanning standards

According to research released by the IAB in September, 69% of advertisers said the retail media ad buying process is too complex, while 62% pointed to a lack of measurement standards as the top challenge.

The push for standards is a sign of maturity in any market. A few years ago, as the number of RMNs proliferated, no one was talking about standardization. Shiny-object syndrome is real.

Now, brands and agencies are “craving” standard workflows, templates and tools for running and measuring their retail media campaigns, said Melissa Burdick, president and co-founder of Pacvue.

Striking a balance

And there is a lot of low-hanging fruit to pick – or, rather, to standardize. So it makes sense to start with the basics.

PepsiCo, for example, still spends a large portion of its marketing dollars on “tried-and-true approaches,” such as retail search, but there aren’t industry-standard KPIs for measuring it, said Karthik Yemmanur, head of product, ad tech and commercial capabilities at PepsiCo ecommerce.

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“Every retailer today has a slightly different methodology for attribution as well as a slightly different attribution window,” Yemmanur said. “That makes it really difficult for us to compare the performance of sponsored product spend across retailers.”

But just because standards are a work in progress doesn’t mean there isn’t room for innovation in the interim, he said.

Last year, Pepsi was an early Instacart test partner for shoppable video and display formats that allow brands to bundle multiple products together, often as part of a recipe or tied to a seasonal moment.

These types of formats are a branding opportunity, but they’re also a utility, Yemmanur said, because consumers can save money on product bundles.

“That’s how we’ve balanced standardization with innovation,” he said.

Add standards to cart

Meanwhile, there has been some progress on retail media standardization, though it’s not an easy thing.

Some aspects of retail media are almost un-standardizable. Take viewability as an example.

On the web, an ad is considered viewable based on the industry-accepted Media Rating Council (MRC) standard of at least 50% of pixels visible for at least 1 second for display ads and 2 seconds for video ads.

But retail media can encompass many different media types. For instance, what does viewability mean for a screen mounted above the deli counter in a grocery store or attached to the front of an EV charging station in the parking lot?

These are the types of questions the industry will have to answer to devise standards, which it is trying to do.

The IAB and the MRC released a proposal for standards in September, the comment period for which just ended last week. At the same time, an independent group of programmatic and retail media tech companies is working to develop OpenRTB standards for RMN.

Standard operating metrics

Partnerships between retail media players and brand safety, fraud and viewability vendors should also prompt some degree of standardization, said Michael Greene, SVP of global vertical strategy at Criteo.

Over the summer, Criteo struck a partnership with Integral Ad Science (IAS) to measure viewability and invalid traffic for the retail media partners in its network. In a similar vein, Instacart recently announced partnerships with IAS and DoubleVerify to do viewability and invalid traffic measurement for Instacart Ads.

Adopting metrics that have become the norm for transacting in the traditional digital world will help shift retail media out of its shopper marketing silo, Greene said.

“Viewability, brand safety, ad fraud – these are standard operating metrics when you’re running any other digital media campaign,” he said. “But they’re only nascent in retail media.”

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