Media Planning & Buying Opinions

From Endcaps to eBay: How Shopper Marketing is Evolving

Posted by Brian Quinn on May 3rd, 2011 at 8:21 am

With shoppers’ media consumption shifting from traditional to digital channels, it’s surprising that media buys still aren’t following this shift as closely as they should. While 28% of consumers’ media consumption is online, only 13% of media spend is online (source: Morgan Stanley).

Smart marketers recognize that the strategy is simple: Follow the consumer. With 81% of shoppers conducting research online (source: Booz & Co.) before going to the store (typically spending an hour or more researching), digital really needs to be a cornerstone of, and not just an add-on to, media plans. Digital shopper engagement is now core to a brand’s success.

There are several techniques companies use to complement their in-store promotions and endcap displays, including advertising directly on a retailer’s website. Unlike the “pay and spray” ad network approach, the new approach – referred to as “digital retail media” or “digital shopper marketing” – enables advertisers to target consumers on retail sites while they are in a very distinct shopping mindset. With retail sites now trumping search engines as the starting point for researching product purchases (source: Compete), it only makes sense to have your brand message right there, loud and clear in the online store – just as you do in a store aisle. Not only does this help drive online sales of the advertised product, but it greatly affects in-store purchase behavior. In fact, one major brand experienced an in-store sales increase of nine times that of the ad spend on one digital retail media campaign.

This approach has been particularly effective with large national advertisers in the consumer packaged goods sector, as well as big-ticket or “considered” purchases that typically require more research (i.e., televisions, appliances). In addition, digital retail media is an effective way to walk consumers through more complicated buys, such as a new cell phone and the associated plans, or credit card offers.

Retail media buys are currently available on some of the world’s most highly trafficked retail websites, including, and, all of which receive millions of visitors each day. These sites offer online ad placements and some even offer custom content centers. No matter how large or small your campaign, it’s a no-brainer to be where the buyer is, which is exactly why in-store retail marketing has always been so effective.

The evolution of in-store marketing certainly will not end online. It will encompass many digital avenues – particularly mobile and social. We’ve already seen some successful examples of mobile shopper marketing campaigns launched this year, and PepsiCo’s Ruffles brand is currently running an innovative flavor contest on Facebook in conjunction with Walmart. This is only the beginning!

The customer’s path to purchase is changing rapidly – and so should the way you communicate with them.  Digital shopper marketing presents brands with a unique opportunity to promote their brands to their best customers by going beyond the banner ad, engaging potential consumers with custom microsites, content sponsorships, brand stores and interactive promotions with coupons, samples and more.  In addition to offering real cross-channel synergies, digital shopper marketing programs demonstrate solid effectiveness and ROI on a much smaller investment.

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