martijn bertisen quote web

A key area of focus for global retailers I spotted on a recent trip to the US is helping suppliers with improved accountability on trade marketing investments.

Retailers can maximise revenue streams and guide supplier marketing strategies by transitioning into media owners. Supermarkets, department stores and grocers all have a range of online properties, from price comparison to transactional sites, that they can offer as advertising inventory.

Brands have long worked with retailers offline to promote their products via traditional media channels like TV, catalogues and inserts or with in-store opportunities such as point of sale. But digital connectivity has provided retailers with amazing amounts of customer insight via purchase data, search, loyalty programmes, social and apps, while search, particularly, has provided data about intent.

Now digitally gathered data can be combined with offline and in-store data to help brands plan and execute effective online media campaigns - offers and creative that can be finessed in real time for maximum impact and engagement. The technology exists to buy ads efficiently to target the right customer at the right time with the right product via the retailer’s digital real estate.

Some supermarkets are already exploiting this opportunity: Walmart started testing its ‘Media Exchange’ a couple of years ago. UK subsidiary Asda flagged its intention to leverage its media inventory last year with Dom Burch, senior director marketing innovation & revenue, saying: “By adding unique targeting opportunities for brands to advertise to the audiences they want, we believe asda.com will become a very desirable publishing platform.”

Retailers can generate revenue with ads even if they are not those of a direct supplier. Stores have millions of website visitors every day and this scale is attractive to other brand advertisers, be they endemic or non-endemic, to the retail environment.

It’s a model already adopted by many of the larger US retailers and other e-commerce sectors, such as travel and real estate. Many transactional sites in other sectors, including marketplaces like Amazon, aggregators like Skyscanner and branded sites like ThomasCook.com, are already tapping this lucrative revenue stream.

In a fiercely competitive environment with pressure to maximise revenue, it seems crazy that retailers do not explore the real media potential of their sites and mobile apps. Grocery and supermarket marketers should take the lead - the incremental revenues from a publisher experiment will make great headlines for the board.

Martijn Bertisen is country sales director at Google UK