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Digital advertising uses impressions as common currency. There needs to be a comparable planning currency for shopper media

As the advertising landscape continues to fragment, planning and buying effective media campaigns is more complex than ever before. Brands are now choosing from thousands of media opportunities, so they need a simple way to determine a media plan’s value based on a simple and consistent measure. This can then be used to determine the media channels that will deliver their objectives in the most efficient way.

In my mind, the shopper advertising industry needs to act now to develop a common currency that allows for better and more robust evaluation of media plans. This is particularly hard today, not least because there is no consistent form of planning currency that everyone is working from. As a somewhat niche segment of advertising, there has never been a comparable planning currency for shopper media – it can be quantified through anything from Opportunities to See (OTS) to duration (it’s live for three weeks). This is one of the reasons why brands and media buying agencies can be reluctant to invest in this type of media in the first place – it’s simply too hard to quantify its relative value in the media mix.

If leveraged, establishing this common currency can allow for much easier cross-comparison of plans. For example, a brand can compare the relative value of the money spent on a shopper media campaign to TV or print. In many cases, I believe it will perform favourably in this analysis.

More from Matt Lee: How to make your shopper media budget an investment, not a spend

This will not only remove the barrier of securing marketing investment, as brands will be able to better justify their marketing spend in retail media, but it will also result in faster investment decisions being made by media planners. As a result, I believe media buying agencies will be more likely to reconsider shopper media in the planning process for their clients.

Think about digital advertising as an example. The use of impressions has been deemed its common currency. Despite the limitations of the measure, impressions imply that breadth is more important than reach, it can be tracked by every site, and it is simple to understand and use. So why can’t we establish something similar for shopper media?

With a wealth of data already generated within the industry, it would be fairly simple to establish a formula for a consistent impressions model, across all media touchpoints and in any store. Firstly, we can tap into some simple but effective metrics provided by the retailer – store footfall.

We could then add some further richness, using factors such as share of voice, compliance and position in-store to factor up or down the impressions measure. If required, we could even go one step further and split the impressions into proportions based on where in the shopper’s journey they occur – ie out of store, front of store, at the fixture, and so on.

However, in order to establish this common currency and for it to become an effective metric, there needs to be transparency and collaboration between retailers, media owners and agencies. Once established, the common currency will not only revitalise this advertising category, but clearly prove the power of shopper media in delivering return on marketing investment.