Get more from your eRetail Media spend #2

June 6, 2022

n this episode our guests John Maltman, CEO e.fundamentals and Ben Taylor, Head of Omni-channel Commerce at Publicis Commerce discuss the accelerated rise of eRetail Media, its myriad formats and the importance of retailer’ data transparency and accountability to give CPGs clarity for their ROI.

Welcome to The Digital Shelf Cast by e.fundamentals. The monthly podcast dedicated to helping growth-driven brand leaders win in ecommerce.


How to play for Digital Shelf growth

The future of CPG growth is ecommerce. It’s time to talk through what it takes to win. Follow our expert discussions on digital commerce trends and take away thought-provoking, actionable insights on how to beat the competition online. The discussions are led by our host Julia Glotz – former editor and managing director at The Grocer and experienced podcaster herself. Each episode will close off with key tips and tactics leaders can put to the test to drive digital shelf growth. Enjoy listening!

Get more from your eRetail Media spend

In this episode our host talks with John Maltman, CEO e.fundamentals and Ben Taylor, Head of Omni-channel Commerce at Publicis Commerce about the accelerated rise in eRetail Media — essentially advertising placed by CPGs on retailers sites or their apps — the best practices and ad formats that enable brands to stand out on the digital shelf and convert shoppers’ eyeballs into purchases, but also views on how retailers need to improve their reporting transparency and accountability to give CPGs clarity for their ROI.

📝 The Show Notes

  • The big international developments in eRetail Media over the past 12 months (08:30)
  • Inspirational examples of US retailer (07:12) the status quo in the UK (23:16)
  • breakdown of key ad formats and their best practice execution (12:34), examples from grocery retail and why Ben is a fan of check-out media
  • The tools available for brands to measure ad performance on the digital shelf (15:22)
  • Developments in banner ads tracking currently under way and how it can positively influence retail search results (19:51)
  • Examples of brands’ ad execution on the digital shelf (25:45) and suggestions for 30/60/90 days plans for how CPGs can get started (32:72)
  • Why a ‘test and learn’ approach is critical to succeeding now and in 2021, and how upskilling sales and marketing teams is essential to driving scalable growth on the digital shelf (30:42)
  • Predictions for ad formats, how retailers will need to improve their ad services, and why social commerce is ‘the next big thing’ (41:02)
  • Finally, the one actionable #22secondsmart tip to really drive digital shelf growth with eRetail Media.

Ready to scale your digital shelf growth? Don’t miss out on your free consultation with our ecommerce experts.

References, Links and People mentioned in this episode

🎧 Missed the previous the previous episode?

Get the lowdown on how to optimise your digital shelf strategy with last month’s episode A CPG’s Guide to Black Friday #1

Abbreviated Transcript

Please enjoy this transcript of our conversation John Maltman, CEO e.fundamentals and Ben Taylor, Head of Omni-channel Commerce at Publicis Commerce. This comprehensive discussion highlights the rise of eRetail Media and why it’s becoming an increasingly important vehicle for both CPGs and retailers to reach today’s shoppers and drive hypergrowth on the digital shelf.

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Julia Glotz: Welcome to Episode 2 of the Digital Shelf Cast, it’s great to have you with us. Today’s episode is all about eRetail media. Why are we choosing to eRetail media right now? Well, there are several good reasons, and as is so often the case at the moment, the changes we’ve seen in the wake of COVID play a big role. More shopping is happening online, more shoppers are turning to ecommerce for the first time. And so brand owners need effective ways to attract and speak to these new online shoppers. That’s where eRetail media really comes into play. It is in essence, advertising placed by brand owners on retailer sites or apps. And it can make a significant difference to a brand’s ability to stand out online, catch the eye of shoppers and convert eyeballs into purchases. That’s always been important, of course, but the stakes are particularly high right now.

According to eMarketer global ecommerce sales are forecast to double by 2024 and UK ecommerce sales are predicted to grow by 56 billion pounds by 2023. So it’s no surprise that the eRetail media strategy is an absolute priority for lots of CPGs. Having said that, getting this right isn’t all that easy. Different retailers have different platforms that work and have to be optimised in different ways. There’s a bewildering array of products you could potentially buy into as a brand and reporting transparency and accountability. So shall we say, works in progress. So how do you CPGs navigate this tricky landscape and who is getting this right? What are the pitfalls to avoid and what can we expect from eRetail media in 2021?

To unpick these questions and many more, I am joined by two ecommerce and eRetail media experts. Ben Taylor who is Head of omni-channel Commerce at Publicis Group and John Maltman is founder and CEO of e.fundamentals. Gentlemen, welcome. To get us warmed up, I want to start by quizzing you a little bit on your own personal online shopping habits: Tell me about the last item you purchased online and why. And in light of our discussion today: did you see any ads that stood out to you? Ben I’m going to start with you on that one. What was the last thing you bought online?

Ben Taylor: So, although I’m far too old to shop, the last thing I bought online was a pair of trainers from ASOS. And the reason I did that is because I was in lockdown and I needed a bit of a treat, but they also have a very good way of sending timely emails to me with reading relevant discounted offers. And this kind of matched my mood and enabled me with a personalised offer to go and get a pair of trainers. Now, this is very interesting if you put it in the context of why I shop at ASOS in the first place. They offered me a 50 pound discount on my first purchase if I downloaded the app. Effectively for the last five years, 60% of my clothes have been bought from ASOS because they encouraged me onto the app in the first place. And I suppose, where this is relevant for CPG is that there’s a lot to learn from clothing to consumer electronics about how eRetail media can influence and can lead to growth and brand success. Certainly ASOS is an interesting model.

Julia Glotz: Fantastic, returning to you John. What was the last online purchase you made?

John Maltman: We just took a delivery this morning of a Gazebo, believe it or not it’s my daughter’s 30th birthday coming up in November. Because we can’t mix, except in the garden [due to COVID-19], we’ve taken the precaution of buying this thing so that we can have at least six of us huddled together underpinning a really solid site here. I bought it from Amazon because I get most things from them when I want it. And I was influenced by Amazon choice by something that looked like it fulfilled my needs, in particular what was helpful, was the multiple images for this particular Gazebo which made it look like something I could actually erect in under a week.

Julia Glotz: I think it is certainly among the more extravagant items, you could expect to be buying online. Now, we all know that ecommerce is booming. And there’s been lots of coverage and discussion around what retailers and brand owners have done specifically to boost their online capabilities in recent weeks and months. What’s perhaps a little bit less on the radar is how eRetail Media specifically has changed during this period. So I just wonder John, if you could perhaps pick out some big developments announcements or changes that really stood out to you in eRetail Media over the past six to 12 months.

John Maltman: For sure. So thinking much more about CPG. First thing is just this massive shift of funds to online advertising particularly through eRetail Media. Quite a lot of it is speculative. What we do see is that a lot of retailers are rushing to more populous funds increasing offers that they have different ways of spending. I think one of the things that interested me a lot was Walmart Media Group, bringing forward some analytics that really would help CPGs to understand the effectiveness of both product adverts and banner media and I think that it’s very insightful that they’ve done it that way working in collaboration with some larger CPGs, because I do think that, as more money comes into this area, CPGs in particular are going to want to get better sense of return on investment and will demand better return on investment. I think Walmart embracing that by providing really clear data on what’s working is a really smart move on their part. And I think a lot of other retailers are simply seeing it as a way of mopping up supplier funds. I think that will actually work for a while, it won’t work forever.

Julia Glotz: And I think the point you raised about analytics and having that clarity on return on investment of course is something we’ll come to you in a bit more detail in our discussion as well, certainly something that’s really top of mind for lots of CPGs at the moment. Ben, what was the sort of standout moment or landmark moment for you in this space in the last few months.

Ben Taylor: Well, actually, I’ve been kind of really looking at this space for 12 months really fascinated by it. I have been looking at things globally and seeing how things are developing in China, and in the US, and it’s like a wave, which is basically looking to reach the UK very soon and crash on the shore.

So what I’ve been looking at is similar to some of John’s comments I’ve been looking at how American retailers have adjusted. They’ve seen the success of Amazon. Amazon is the third largest digital advertiser globally. And all of a sudden target and Walmart and Kroger are saying I want some of that too. I’m having to sell these products for like, 5% margin or less or I can make a 2% margin on a media business this just makes sense. And we saw a lot of developments in the US but what’s kind of most encouraging is we’re now seeing this more sophisticated level of system, starting to occur in the UK. Obviously Amazon has been here for a while so prior to that Sainsbury’s announced with Citrus that they have a new buying and planning platform going live on this site, which really is transformative. And really, Sainsbury’s was probably the one retailer where behavioural data online wasn’t very good at all when now it’s gone to excellent overnight. And this is kind of symptomatic of the whole eRetail Media industry at the moment, data and systems are becoming more sophisticated making it a much more viable mainstream media option for brands and sales teams.

Julia Glotz: We’ve talked quite a bit about retailers so far and some of the sort of key developments we’ve seen on the retailer side. Looking at it from a CPG perspective and again John if I can perhaps turn to you and from what you’re seeing in the market. How are brand owners changing their approach to eRetail Media at the moment, what are some of the changes that you’ve seen in recent months.

John Maltman: I think they’re First of all, they’re giving it much more attention and planning to spend more money in this area so I expect more funds to flow towards digital media. They’re starting to get ready though for being asked the question “where are we getting a great return on investment?” And so there’s a lot of work going on in understanding the analytics behind media placement. And it’s not easy, and it will take quite a bit of time to get to having a strong answer but in a world where ecommerce expanding quickly, where budgets are shifting towards ecommerce, but at the same time, shoppers are going to be increasingly shopping for margins are going to come with a terrific measure both for retailers and in CPGs. Value for money in every part of the investment cycle is going to be extremely important. I think that’s where a lot of people are focused, trying to get a better handle on where the value is.

Julia Glotz: Ben, when you’re having conversations with brand owners at the moment, what are some of the key talking points, how are you seeing their attitudes towards eRetail Media change?

Ben Taylor: Like John said, it’s all incremental attention that’s now occurring. The bigger companies are looking to refine what they do, because they already probably have an existing body of work. The medium sized companies are moving beyond dabbling into making it a part of their strategy and the smaller companies are beginning to say right, this is something we need to engage with. And there are two drivers of that, I think the first for those bigger companies is profitability, that eRetail Media can no longer be seen as like the customer sales tax’ something that gets you distribution and listings; it must stand up on its own two legs is a viable medium. And the other which we’ve kind of touched on already is that ecommerce is just becoming this huge channel, not only for conversion but for reach as well. The pandemic has changed the way that we buy and ecommerce has become a much more valuable channel. And so, no client is ignoring it. You know, sometimes it takes a while for those resources to meet that initial desire to make things work.

Julia Glotz: And of course this is quite a complex landscape as well isn’t it Ben? There’s so many different ways for brand owners to spend money on eRetail Media. I wonder in fact before we dive into the nitty gritty of exactly what is working and what we think cpgs should be focusing on whether you could give us a quick primer on some of the key media formats available in the UK eRetail at the moment.

Ben Taylor: Yes, of course. The first thing to say is eRetail Media sounds like it’s complicated but is in fact really simple as most media is. Basically, all it is is space that turns up where you can supply a message to change people’s purchase behaviour. And you know, agencies and retailers their own city so the main places they put their media, the places where we frequent most when we shop, because that’s when you have the biggest likelihood to adjust our purchase behaviour and switch brands or trade up whatever people would like. So those most common place areas where we search and we would all recognise this is search favourites if you’re a grocer, maybe check out. And also, taxonomy. So choosing your projects via that little categorization on the left hand side of the page. I think other areas that are growing, are the off site elements of return media which is very unusual and a lot of people can’t get their head around, people think that retail media is about buying conversion in store or on site but actually there’s a really rich offer in programmatic and social delivery which is coming through here in eRetail Media. And lastly, one thing which we all like, which has been around for a while, particularly if you’re used to store based media is kind of e-couponing and sampling activities as well where you go out with samples with people’s shops as they buy online. So there are some broad areas. There are many different media that you can buy across all the different retailers. That’s where it kind of gets a bit more confusing, because, you know, unlike with standard media there’s more formats that we recognise but there is a huge proliferation of options out there.

Julia Glotz: So the underlying principles are straightforward but perhaps the specific execution across different platforms is where some of that complexity comes in. Now John you’ve, you’ve raised earlier on this point about CPGs really having to drill into ROI and really understanding what is and isn’t working. Before we talk specifically about which formats, we think are working at the moment. I just want to return to that point about measuring and measuring success in particular, what kind of data is available to you as a brand owner at the moment. What are some of the tools that you could perhaps look at or use to figure out if what you’re doing is in fact effective.

John Maltman: Oh, I’m sure Ben’s got a lot more experience in this area than I am so look forward to him helping me out on this, but the. I think the initiatives like Walmart’s initiative which is basically supplying quite an in depth analytical panel, and then Ben’s described Sainsbury’s initiative. I think these are absolutely essential because I’m sure that CPGs will need to buy for value are going to come under tremendous pressure. The other piece though and I think it’s an area that’s relatively unexplored is how eMedia can combine with in-store promotion and be used as part of a campaign that takes both of those elements. I see great opportunities to increase the efficiency of [in-store] promotions by harnessing the power of the eRetail Media alongside it. And that has the possibility of generating far greater returns. I did actually do a quick search for the most recent information I could find on return on investment from a retail media, and I couldn’t find anything that was particularly useful or or current. I don’t know if you’ve seen anything Ben?

Ben Taylor: Yeah, so it is really changing. I think this whole area we could talk about for a long time. I used to be that guy who used to go into retailers back in the day when there’s to be no data there and you’ll be struggling to understand how you’re going to measure it Now suddenly you’ve got a lot of options. This was the bit that always held a retail media back and now it’s coming through in spades. So, the developments in the market is that Amazon for three, four years has had a really good day to refer and has been able to tell you what kind of return you’re getting across a number of different measures. Criteo is really good, Dunnhumby of the grocers are really leading the charge. And now all of a sudden these guys have developed and also Sainsbury’s have come on board and you’ve got four mainstream retailers with really comprehensive data packages to tell you what’s what. And when I say comprehensive there are impressions reach cost per clicks cost per acquisitions, conversion rates – a wide variety of data which when you’ve been used to nothing too all of a sudden having a lot is a big deal. So that’s why it’s encouraging and that’s why you know it’s not across the board at the moment. And it’s not like consumer media but the change is really coming really strongly and the major players really have a key offer now and I expect more people to follow suit.

John Maltman: Ben, you think that funding will flow to those retailers who have that analytical package to support decision making?

Ben Taylor: Well, having been in both positions when you’re a supplier selling into a retailer, you know that part of businesses investing in their media. Whether you know it works or not. But what I think will happen is and why I advise clients to do now in my new role is to say, test and learn, go with those guys that are going to really tell you, if this media worked or not. So everybody has a test and learn budget, everyone’s looking to explore this area, vote with your feet and vest with those guys that can tell you what’s happening. And I think this is the best possible thing for all retailers in the market because you encourage everybody to evolve and to realise, as I said earlier, that this medium needs to stand up on its own two feet, as opposed to being something which has been used to compliment a JBP.

Julia Glotz: What you’re seeing are some of the formats and placements that are currently generating particularly good results for CPGs at the moment?

Ben Taylor: So, I’ll cover grocery and Amazon, I think for grocery it really is about search and favourites. You can only secure those if you have a really competitive price promotion – obviously retailers determine prices, but they’re kind of effectively the online equivalent of the Gondola end, that’s the two pieces of activity you really want to secure if you want to get a campaign right. I’m a fan also of checkout media of cross sells checkouts because it drives an impulse cross sales because it’s a lovely creative way to link with your products to another area which conveys a use. So, if I may, toothpaste the sensitive toothpaste then I look to link up with ice creams and hot drinks because, you know, that’s a common challenge for people with sensitivity. With Amazon you see the same patterns to a degree: search is very popular, it works really well, so sponsored brands, sponsored products are really good. But with Amazon it just goes a bit wider. They’re two or three years further down the road so their display packages and Amazon DSP and their retargeting services off site driving people and their demographic and behavioural targeting is just a step on from the groceries at the moment, although I think the groceries will catch up.

Julia Glotz: And John you’ve had Ben set out some other formats that he’s seen work well across Amazon and the grocers. If I could put that question to you as well. Does that tally with what you’re seeing in the market? Are there some other formats perhaps that should be on brand owners radars as well as?

John Maltman: One of the things that we’ve been working on is tracking who’s winning banner positions across retailer sites and the areas that we focus on primarily are the homepage, the category page, the search results for the key search terms, and the product listings themselves. And I think, I think there’s lots of opportunities in focusing in particular on the search results. And the product listings, as a way of switching on or getting conversions.

Julia Glotz: And based on what you’ve seen and the research that you’ve done of any particular differences between Amazon and perhaps some of those grocery retailers that are worth highlighting?

John Maltman: Yeah, well I think Bens Amazon is very much in a league of it’s own in terms of the sophistication. Although that said, having got the blue gazebo arriving at about 11am this morning, just at lunchtime, Amazon did send me an offer on a pink gazebo which I don’t think I’ll be taking up anything soon. I certainly think that if I take my own experience in Ocado for example, I find offers on my favourites very compelling, I  review those on a regular basis because they’re targeted to me. Whereas I find the coupon offers much less targeted and therefore a lot less interesting. So, I personally believe that relevant content delivered in the right place is extremely important that relevance is critical.

You know, I began my career. When it was just physical stores and as a sales rep. And, you know, every few years every chain I’ve ever worked with has had to go through a decluttering of physical stores just to get them back to being easy to shop. And I think  there’s something that is analogous to online: I think that quite a lot of what is getting projected towards the shopper is actually quite cluttered, and it gets in the way of making great shopping purchases. So I think being choiceful about where you’re spending your money. I do think the industry should be in a test and learn phase, for sure, because I don’t think that anybody’s got the playbook completely written right at the stage, but being choiceful and making sure that you’re enhancing the shopping spirits not getting in the way of it.

Julia Glotz: And both of you have talked about Amazon. And of course, Amazon, being seen very much as a, as a leader in the whole eRetail Media space. If you had to pick a grocery retailer, a UK grocery retailer who is impressing you on this or you think is getting this more right than perhaps some of its rivals, who stands out as being particularly advanced, particularly advanced on eRetail Media? Ben if I could come to you on that.

Ben Taylor: Historically, it has been Dunhumby and Tesco have done a very good job having an independent agency to a degree working on your media properties has helped them improve what they do. But I think that the potential now that exists at Sainsbury’s with CitrusAds particularly can eclipse that. What is available in Sainsbury’s now is hourly updates, across 10 different data measures to inform you how your work is performing. And Dunhumby isn’t there yet although they have been very good and a leading light in grocery for a while. I think the other thing to mention there is Criteo. So one of interesting things about the industry is you’ve had Criteo, an independent network that sells space on as Morrison’s and other retailers, come back with cracking inventory and data analysis on that inventory, which is in stark comparison to the groceries themselves when they sell the media direct so Criteo have also been impressive to me and they continue to be like an early leader in this market and from what I’ve seen from them recently though, they’ll continue to go from strength to strength.

Julia Glotz: And if we flip that to the CPG side John if I could come to you and there’s who stands out to you, among brand owners for being particularly smart in their use of E retail media.

John Maltman: I think the biggest players of CPG tend to all be given us a lot of attention. So, for looking at Walmart Media Group doing its test and its analytics they did it with companies like P&G, Nestle Purina mondelez  I think you can expect those companies to spend a lot of time trying to get on top of the analytics, because of such big sums of money involved. I think the other thing to think about is to have great media well deployed. You also need to make sure that fulfilment part is just as strong, and I see an awful lot of out of stocks being heavily advertised on retail sites and that worries me a great deal because I think that detracts from the shopper experience. You need to get the operations, right at the same time as you get the media piece right.

Julia Glotz: Ben I’m just going to briefly say that question your way as well. Are there any brand owners you could pick out that you think are doing a particularly impressive job on this?

Ben Taylor: Yep, I think the initial three are people that we’ve known well because they’ve been doing a good job on the content aspects of ecommerce for a long time so that’s P&G, Coca Cola, Unilever very good job and their retail media works pretty good. I’d say they’re probably better at the likes of Amazon and Criteo than they are maybe on eRetail Media across, you know that the retailers direct. And I think other mentions – GSK are very forward thinking, I like what they do. And actually, my alma mater – my old job with Nestle Purina, one for Petfood standing out amongst the crowd in the instance.

Julia Glotz: Now we spend quite a bit of time talking about what is working and let’s turn to what isn’t working and basically you have already alluded to some, some problem areas that are on your radar. But if we could perhaps start with that sort of big picture. When eRetail media strategies go awry, or don’t generate good results. What are the most common reasons for why things don’t work ou. John Are there any sort of recurring themes that you tend to see?

John Maltman: Yeah, I think, even in retailers who claim to have a very high level of targeting for ads. What I suspect is they’re not getting enough throughput to do their targeting accurately. So, by way of example I was just about to buy a lager in a US retailer. When I was offered as an alternative and orange juice. I don’t know about you but that’s never a good alternative for me. I’m sure there is a target engine in there that could work really well. If there was sufficient quantity of ads going through it. And so I think that on quite a few sites you can see there’s a big opportunity just to give people a bit more relevance in terms of what’s been shown to them.

Julia Glotz: And Ben, John highlighted relevance there’s Is that something you see as well as as a particularly common problem area?

Ben Taylor: Relevance yes and John’s alluding to, sometimes they’re just situations where maybe your ad doesn’t get served to the right people, which is just about the background setup to retail media news from time to bidding. For me, I think that there are just always times when your eRetail Media won’t work and that’s sometimes because of things that are beyond your control. That’s because you’re at the sharp end here where you’re talking about prices as well. And if a competitor comes up with a really great price immediately it’s not gonna work. Because, you know, price is stronger than media in this kind of lower funnel neck of the woods. I think the other thing to say is that sometimes some of the media just doesn’t work. It’s a trial, it’s not working yet some stuff where it’s great some stuff doesn’t. And, you know, we just need to be conscious of that.

I think the only other thing I’d like to add on this because John mentioned it earlier, which I think is true, and we should use our voice to influence people a bit but sometimes we’re just setting too much space on one retailer and your offer can’t cut through, we’re focusing too much on monetizing your media, rather than creating a credible eRetail Media platform, and for the long term health of eRetail Media that kind of needs to change. And you know the retailers will make more money if they do so as well. But at the moment, it’s a bit overplayed on some retailers, definitely not all. And there’s something for them to think about there.

Julia Glotz: And on the CPG side is there anything that you’re seeing in terms of team structures workflows tools budget priorities that sometimes get in the way of successful eRetail Media executions. John if we start with you on that.

John Maltman: Yeah, I think we see generally in the whole area of ecommerce still too much reliance on ecommerce specialists. And we believe, and a lot of our clients think this way too, it’s really a time to upskill everybody who’s working in sales and marketing to be able to effectively work in the omnichannel. And that doing that we see as an important route to be able to execute at scale. Everybody can do a good job on a project. But if you’re really going to get a competitive advantage you need to be doing a good job every day. And that becomes increasingly important as ecommerce becomes a big part of a route to market for your retail customers so I think that just broadening out the skill base and making sure the tools are fit for purpose in terms of being easy intuitive directed to people’s job roles.

Julia Glotz:And is that something that you’re seeing as well and do you see the boom in the wake of the pandemic as a potential opportunity to redress and upskill?

Ben Taylor: Yeah. Okay, that smartpoint. You know, a lot of CPG businesses have masters of the store based method of selling. And that’s essentially true and you know ecommerce hasn’t been a big enough volume to really make people think differently about that and all of a sudden we do now so we have to upskill people to think differently is very different. And the other aspect, I would say is silos. And having been on the client myself I know exactly what this is like: you’ve got probably four or five different teams working on eRetail Media. Brand team, sales teams, shopper teams, ecommerce teams, digital teams – all with different objectives and budgets sitting in different pots. And you know what, no one can solve this yet, it’s, it’s terrifically hard. That is the one big obstacle I think that needs to change. Either you have to solve it by organisational design or create a way of working that brings everybody together on eRetail Media because if you don’t, you end up with a body of work which just isn’t fit for years.

Julia Glotz: And I suppose taking that longer term view on eRetail Media investments can be a little bit of a challenge as well. But is there anything that you have seen or that you might be able to suggest that you know as a sort of 30 / 60 / 90 day plan for CPGs to sort of start exploiting a eRetail Media as part of their marketing mix and just get that longer term perspective into things a bit more.

Ben Taylor: Yeah. I think this is a good point. And again, it’s something we touched on a bit earlier but first of all, I would advise auditing the current state of play, understanding your capability internally, understand the capability with your retailers, and just generally get a feel for what you can and can’t do. And I think that’s pretty important because there’s no point in embarking on sophisticated eRetail Media strategy if you haven’t got the people in the customers to deliver it with. Stage two, I see people very often, choosing media because they like the sound of it and not because it’s integrated with what their business wants to achieve, what their objective is or what their KPI should be. People are choosing media at random and what we all know is, according to your objective you choose the right media vehicle: if you want to drive market share, you choose certain favourites, if you want to drive trial you do sampling and e-couponing. That level of thinking that your eRetail Media because it happens at the back end of a kind of a company’s thought process doesn’t often happen.

So that would be us kind of step two, and then step three after that, you know, and you’ve got all your e-content right then and only then start thinking about how you plan create and review your reRetail Media work, we jump in a bit too often quickly, and we just need to create the time and the resource to get it right. And I think that’s really important.

Julia Glotz: And John in terms of getting that longer term perspective on the investments. Are there any sort of tricks or ways of thinking about your investments that you think helps CPGs, perhaps, think about 30 / 60 / 90 day horizons in a slightly more differentiated way?

John Maltman: I don’t think every CPG has quite caught up with the pace of change that’s going to occur over the next period. And that’s because that change is gonna be stimulated by the fact that retailers are now investing such a lot of time and effort in getting their online offer right. They’re doing a lot of testing a lot of experimentation in their own right, but changing the way they organise, you got Walmart bringing online and physical stores together under one buying operation for example. So, this speed of change is very very important and CPGs are going to have to get used to ‘test and learn’ in a very rapid environment that is constantly changing. So, and that for many many companies means having an increased tolerance for failure. As you adopt a testing methodology, and then being prepared to bet against the things that you can prove are working really quickly. So I just think that that’s going to change the culture of working with retailers, going forward at just a pace of things that are going to happen.

Julia Glotz: And both of you have talked about accountability, transparency, the need for robust reporting and consistent metrics at various points. I just want to really drill into that in a little bit more detail because of course these are all things. We hear a lot in conversations about e retail media, usually from brand owners complaining about a lack thereof. And so specifically, what are some of the priorities that you think retailers need to address when it comes to accountability and transparency and really give CPGs the confidence they need to invest, Ben, what are some other sort of problem areas that stick out to you on that side.

Ben Taylor:  I think the big challenge for retail media is they need to be seen in the same light as consumer medium. And, in which case, it’s about getting the data right as early as forecast as well as it is reviewed so a lot of retailers will give you some good review data, maybe not in the timeframe that you need it. But at forecasts at the start of the campaign and retailer needs to be able to tell you what you’re going to get. And at the end they need to say this is what you’ve got. And so that’s that’s a key thing and that’s about standing up and competing with the likes of Facebook and Google and other digital media providers. And I think the other aspects are just need to see a full funnel, in terms of behavioural data. So from impressions to reach to click throughs to conversion rates to sale. We need to be able to join the dots, and there are a lot of measures within that spectrum, but we need to be able to join the dots between, between kind of awareness and conversion. And if retailer media can provide that for us, then it will be in a very strong position and an end, rather than being perceived as weaker compared to consumer media, we’ll start to look at very very enticing offers.

Julia Glotz: John, you raised the need for robust reporting on several occasions, what are some of the grey areas that you’re still seeing where you would like to see better transparency.

John Maltman: Well, I think that, I start with just commenting on strategy from a retailer point of view. The my last trip to the US before lockdown was to the National Retail forum in New York last January, and there were a lot of people that are presenting and exhibiting talking about the huge margins, you can make on eRetail Media and encouraging each other to get stuck in, and that it just struck me then and more so now that that will probably play pretty well in the short term, it won’t play well on long term. I think retailers need to see themselves as sellers of marketing services to CPGs. And they need to make sure that their offer is highly tuned, providing best relevance and generating really provable return on investment. So really knowing how to attribute. And the ones who do that and who do it because it’s the strategic choice to be sellers of media – Ben’s phase earlier resonated with me –  and posing a customer sales tax. I think those are the long term winners and I think you can see that in the Far East, you certainly see in the States and I think you’ll see it here. It may take a bit a while for that to play out but I just think that there’s so much money coming to the CPGs just simply can’t afford not to know where the value is and to go for that.

Julia Glotz: I’d like to just briefly talk about what’s coming down the line in the next 12 months in 2021. Both of you have talked about some of the developments on the international scene that you’re following with great interest that are exciting you. If we think specifically perhaps about some media formats that are available in the US already on say, Amazon Walmart eBay, potentially, and are there any in particular that you think are going to start playing a bigger role here in the UK. Ben, are there any new formats that spring to mind?

Ben Taylor:  Yeah, I think broadly what I expect to see is we’ll expect to see retail media get richer and more creative, and what expect to see traditional digital media owners become more commercial. So, two good examples of that. One is live streaming, something we’ve seen on Amazon in the US, and we’ve seen on taobao.com, which is Alibaba like QVC but on retail. And I think that will be something that will come in, if not a big reason but the other thing which is creating quite a stir in the US is social commerce on Instagram, and the fact that you now don’t have to leave the social media platform in order to buy a product. So that’s genuinely a big step forward for those social media giants. And so that’ll be interesting to see how the more aggressive commerce approach of traditional traditional media owners and an evolving eRetail Media offer will exist in the market together.

Julia Glotz: And what kind of opportunities are there for UK brand owners to dip their toes into those, those formats at the moment.

Ben Taylor:  So at the moment they’re not here currently. They’re both on Instagram and are supposed to be coming here next year, sometimes getting a few delays. I think here in the UK, where the new grand is a lot of people understand the value of programmatic and social with a retailer, and of the value of teaming up your consumer media with retail via ad tech. And that’s the big area that’s been explored now at some companies that have been doing it for a while, some are kind of testing it out but those are the immediate things that we need to look at and the knowledge that maybe these more advanced platforms will come to us in the next six months.

Julia Glotz:  John, let me put that question to you a question. What are some of the format’s that you’re seeing overseas that excite you and that you think could start playing a role here in the UK?

John Maltman:  Ben did a good job of calling over some major developments. I think that the skill you’ll see emerging amongst leading CPGs will be to combine eRetail Media media buying with trade promotion and the management of search. If you bring those three things together, and you get really good at that, then I think you can really build  some fantastic growth and market share, and also manage mix to get a more profitable share as well. And I think that’s something that folks will be aiming to get a handle on.

Julia Glotz: So, if we bring our discussion to a close, I want to ask you for your #22secondsmarts, your piece of advice for brand owners on how to use eRetail Media to really drive digital shelf growth in 2021. One piece of advice, what would it be, but I’m going to go to you first.

Ben Taylor: Okay, I’d say, invest time and resources in this now knowing is going to be a big thing in a year or two. Don’t expect perfection and expect to learn as you go this is about exploration not perfection. Be brave to request data, and take time to get it right. And don’t treat the eRetail Media as you have done in the past, because it’s a very important medium for the future, and you need to have no bias against it, in order to get it right.

Julia Glotz: Fantastic. John you’re #22secondsmarts

John Maltman: Build capability to test and learn and bring agile thinking into the way you adapt to what’s going to be a very fast evolving landscape.

Julia Glotz: Nice and concise. Great Ben, John, thank you for a fascinating discussion and thank you for joining me.

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