Retail media networks are enjoying a meteoric rise to prominence, but how do you know if they’re a good investment for your company? In this series, we’ll explore common misconceptions about these networks from both the retailer and brand perspective, providing you with everything you need to know to make informed decisions when it comes to retail media commitments.
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Once you have a sufficient data layer and comprehensive tech stack for your retail media network, where should you actually, well, deliver media? While retail display and sponsored search may seem like a natural starting point, these options also come with some important considerations.
Yes, onsite and search have their appeal
Your retail site is a part of the purchase journey. And there’s no denying it: if you have a website, you’re sitting on a treasure trove of advertising appeal. Retail sites are the most visited touchpoint for online buyers prior to making a purchase. In other words, shoppers go directly to the retail site rather than searching the product they’re interested in on Google. And the proof is in the purchase: almost ¼ of shoppers purchase at least two advertised products. Search position also makes a significant difference: 90% of products purchased appear on the first page of search results.
Onsite ads and paid search are also highly coveted by brands, since it’s more difficult to stand out on the “digital shelf” than the physical one. Since brand appeal is the crux of retail media networks to begin with, why wouldn’t you start with onsite? Retail display ads also create a seamless journey from interest to purchase. The CTA button can read “Add to cart” rather than directing shoppers to the website to view the product. Plus, it’s easy to measure sales down to the SKU—it’s all happening right on your site!
But at what cost?
It’s not hard to see why onsite and search are great options to scale your retail media network. But have you considered some of the constraints? First, keep in mind that onsite inventory is ultimately limited. Your site is just one digital property, after all. Can you maximize your revenue based on available brand budgets through an onsite approach? Plus, how are you going to increase traffic to your site to grow inventory and monetization given that most retailers’ owned properties reach only a portion of the overall customer base?
Second, don’t overlook what it takes to launch and manage this type of advertising. Activating these ads and delivering analytics both require significant time and effort from your IT and (often) marketing teams. Onsite requires a substantial internal support effort that your team may not be able to accommodate. They also simply lack expertise in the solution.
Don’t discount the offsite opportunities
One major advantage to offsite advertising is that you can let someone else do most of the heavy lifting. You don’t have to expend internal resources since external parties complete the larger effort involved. Offsite, in most cases, will also go faster, bringing brands closer to the positive ROI metrics they’re after when they invest in your network. And, offsite inventory is virtually infinite. You can deterministically reach your audience where they already are.
In the end, delivering on ROI/ROAS is infinitely more important for your brand partners than the perceived value of onsite vs. offsite at the start of the RMN partnership. Assuming you have a sufficiently scaled first-party audience, you can also make the most of the brand budgets at your disposal with a vastly expanded set of channel options.
Start how you want to finish
A scaled first-party audience is a non-negotiable for any RMN effort, but depending on your internal bandwidth and brand opportunities, offsite will be a better starting point for your advertising network than onsite. When strategizing your network, it’s critical to think holistically about not just the benefits of a certain approach, but also the realities of activating and sustaining it.
We help our retail clients expand and enhance their first-party data to maximize the return on their RMN offering. Contact us today to learn more.