An Interview with ViralGains’ Resident Retail Expert: Adam Brock

It’s no secret that retailers are facing a number of challenges in the advertising landscape. Third-party cookies are being deprecated, consumers are increasingly concerned about data privacy, and the economy is constantly fluctuating. In this interview, Adam Brock, our Strategic Partnerships Director (and resident retail expert 😉), discusses emerging trends in the retail advertising space, tips for securing higher advertising ROI, and how retailers can balance the need for personalization and targeting with concerns around data privacy and security.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing retailers in today’s advertising landscape, and how do you see these challenges evolving in the coming years?

AB: One of the most obvious challenges, third party cookie deprecation, has been at the top of many lists for years and it appears we are on our way to a cookieless Chrome in 2024. Since Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) update in 2021, retailers saw customer acquisition costs soar – setting off alarm bells for what’s to come next. The lack of an agreed upon attribution method has made marketers also consider other forms of attribution like Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM), which has evolved over the years and with advancements in AI and machine learning can generate these reports in a matter of days or weeks.

As the economy continues to fluctuate, consumers are constantly seeking better deals/value and convenience, which has an impact on brand loyalty and overall market share. Retailers are making it easier for consumers to make a purchase, which means retailers need to not only prospect for new customers, but also defend their own against DTC and challenger brands.

How can retailers balance the need for personalization and targeting in their advertising with concerns around data privacy and security?

AB: I swear if I see another one of those product grids from Retailer X following me around – I’m gonna cry. So often most of the products on them are sold out or completely irrelevant. I’d love to see a retailer do something different. Consumers are hungry for new ways to engage with brands and retailers. Just look at how TikTok has taken off as a major commerce platform. Retailers need to go where the consumers are and offer the most seamless and enriching user experience. Zero party data enriches the customer experience through a moment of value exchange. Retailers can utilize a zero party data strategy as a way to gauge brand consideration and drive down customer acquisition costs by segmenting audiences based on their survey responses and then targeting them with more relevant advertisements.

What are some emerging technologies or trends in the retail advertising space that you’re particularly excited about, and how do you see these technologies evolving in the coming years?

AB: I’m excited to see the evolution of brick and mortar. Physical brand experiences are still crucial for some verticals, but how these brands are using the space is changing. I’m eager to see the advances in D-OOH within retail stores, but hopeful it’s not going to make the store resemble the likes of Las Vegas. When done right, strategic D-OOH placements can enrich the customer experience – very much like zero party data.

Retailers are also toying around with different brick and mortar setups with the emergence of Buy Online, Pay In-Store (BOPIS) and Shop-in-Shop – a new type of partnership trend that allows one retailer to setup a pop-up shop within another retailer. Target has been a big proponent of Shop-in-Shop – doubling down on their partnerships with Apple and Ulta Beauty. These pop-ups are another way retailers are getting consumers back in-store while making it easier for them to get everything they need all in one place. Some retailers like Kohl’s are leveraging a Shop-in-Shop strategy to also attract a new target market with their Sephora partnership – with Kohl’s gaining 1 million new customers since launching in August 2021.

How do you think the use of zero party data can help retailers drive more effective ad targeting and higher ROI on advertising spend?

AB: I think retailers could certainly get more creative in their approach to retargeting and reach. Imagine a world where you go onto a retailer’s website – browse a few items and are asked through a survey your likelihood of making a purchase within the next month. By simply asking this question and negatively targeting those who are not making a purchase, retailers could save a lot of money over time. The same could be said for a reach-focused awareness campaign. A brand could ask a favorability or consideration question using a Likert scale – establish the brand’s Movable Middle (2, 3 and 4 stars) as our primary target audience and negatively target the 1 star responders. By doing this, retailers are gaining efficiencies by negatively targeting two important audiences – consumers who have the highest (5 stars) and lowest favorability (1 star).

What advice would you give to retailers who are just starting to explore the use of zero party data in their advertising efforts?

AB: Test & learn. Test & learn. Test & learn! Always keep that mindset. Identify your key performance metrics across audiences and take note of their performance relative to its channel, format and creative. And stick with it. Data is most powerful when viewed over an extended period of time so you’re able to identify trends and learnings. Maximize the usage of your survey responders by using them for lookalike modeling and suppression. With a big enough suppression segment, over time you’ll start seeing your costs decrease.

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