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How retail media acts as inspiration for strategy shift within traditional publishers

Paper-based marketing is still effective (Image: Fotolia)

For Retail Media insiders the opportunity associated with Retail Media is obvious – but what about the wider media world looking on Retail Media; what do they see with fresh eyes?

For Brian Morrissey who writes The Rebooting newsletter about how media is changing as an industry, Retail Media is very interesting and he as some very interesting takes on the business.

Here are some of his thoughts reflecting on what he saw in Cannes:

  • “Advertising and commerce are blurring. Businesses just want to buy customers, not tell stories.”
  • “Receipts matter. Hanging around the hoop (the sale) is always a solid strategy.”
  • “Commerce data is gold. Contextual data has always been an imperfect proxy.”

Great insights as well as being quotable quotes.  A fuller quote is even more insightful:

“The advantage retailers have is a stronger intent signal. Google created what is often called the world’s best moneymaking machine because of its position at the commanding heights of information flows, but mainly because it harnessed specific intent through search terms. Retail media offers a similar proposition with people’s shopping behaviour. Critically, at a time of signal loss that is more troublesome in attribution than targeting, retailers offer a handy way of proving they drive sales.  

The key words here are ‘intent signals’ and ‘proving sales’ – in a cookieless world, proving intent is a USP.

Morrissey believes that all is not lost for traditional publishers: The opportunity for publishers is to partner with these retail media networks for access to publisher inventory. Contextual data might not be as valued as commerce data, but it matters.”

Morrissey uses the example of publishing company Hearst, an ‘old school’ publisher. Hearst offers its own ad products that mimic retail media by tapping into the transaction data publishers now have through their nascent commerce operations. Hearst has historically aimed for brand budgets, while leaving performance marketing budgets to Google and Facebook. However, the growth of retail media means that they must adapt their advertising offerings to be closer to retail media.

Hearst has built a new ad platform called Aura that combines its contextual data with the $2bn-worth of shopping data it collects through its affiliate and commerce operations. This way Hearst can “find patterns in behaviour, interests, shopping and integrate commerce-focused units within the right context” such as native commerce ad units.

In other words, traditional publishers could reclaim some former glories if they focus on ensuring they combine their audiences with some form of commerce capabilities?  Hearst is showing one path forward.

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