Albertsons Is Getting Into the Digital Media Business to Compete for Money From CPG Brands

Target, Kroger and Walmart have made similar moves

Albertsons wants to tap deeper into shopper marketing budgets.
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Albertsons’ website lists 128 products with the word “banana” in them, and to adapt a phrase from Arrested Development’s George Bluth, there’s always money in the digital banana stand.

On Thursday, Albertsons unveiled a program called Albertsons Performance Media that works with consumer-packaged-goods brands to place ads all over the web and track the promos to see if they actually drove people to buy something in a store.

Here’s how it works:

Tech vendor Quotient plugs into Albertson’s data collected from the chain’s more than 30 million loyal program members and in-store data from its 2,300 stores. Think of it as a way for a retailer to combine the online and offline worlds of its customers.

Albertsons is far from the only retailer betting on its audience to win over brands. Walmart, Target and Kroger all operate similar media networks that pitch brands their scale and audience, much like publishers do. If orchestrated right, the opportunity is significant. A study from Cadent found that CPG brands spent $225 billion—or 19.5 percent of sales—on marketing in 2017.

Narayan Iyengar, svp of digital and ecommerce at Albertsons, declined to say how much money the brand anticipates making through the platform but said it was a “material” amount.

“I would think of it less in terms of stores and more in terms of audience,” Iyengar said. “Digital and ecommerce is extremely important to us.”

Albertsons, which has an ecommerce site with home delivery, acquired meal-kit service Plated last year to beef up its tech infrastructure and works with Instacart on grocery deliveries.

Albertsons said brands like Kimberly-Clark and Pepsi have run campaigns with Albertsons Performance Media and added that it has tested the program across all of its stores. One of the lessons it’s learned so far? CPG brands are using the ads to promote new products in a handful of markets and then using lookalike modeling to run ads more broadly.

Quotient’s technology goes through Albertsons’ demand-side platform that’s used to run ads for CPG brands across social platforms like Pinterest and Facebook as well as programmatic and display media buys from publishers. The service allows CPG brands to “target customers that shop with us by the CPG’s products through our stores and to help build a digital relationship with them, much the same way that we enable them to do that in the physical store through merchandising tactics and so on,” Iyengar said.

Quotient takes CPG brands’ assets and stamps them with a call to action—a coupon, for instance, or a link that automatically adds items to the shopping cart—that points users to Albertsons properties.

“We call it immersive, real-time creative—that’s very powerful in achieving or delivering that brand message to the consumer but then getting them to take action that finally drives sales,” said Mir Aamir, president and CEO of Quotient Technology.

And with the data, attribution stats are at the core of the technology. On top of sales data, there is purchase-intent data that keeps tabs on people who clip coupons and put items in their shopping carts.

“We’re focused on looking at which of the specific consumers actually saw the ad no matter where they saw the ad and which of them came in to purchase the product—it’s attribution into actual sales,” Aamir said.

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