Full-Funnel Brand Strategies for Retail Media Networks

Brands seeking a healthy marketing mix typically aim to balance their short-term sales goals with long-term brand engagement objectives. However, the digital challenges facing companies seeking long-term brand health have never been greater than now.

Competition for audience attention is skyrocketing in fast-growing platforms like connected TV, taking awareness/reach CPMs to unsustainable levels. Meanwhile, the ongoing third-party cookie phaseout, including Apple’s and Mozilla’s restrictions, continues to bring a sense of urgency to expanding first-party data. And on top of that, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of privacy rights, spurring marketers to establish trust through value-based engagement.

Taken together, these challenges lead to a reduced addressable prospect base, higher upper-funnel costs and skewed attribution. Expectedly, the marketer’s path of least resistance is to target the bottom of the funnel and prioritize short-term sales goals and ad spend ROI. This is more often the case with retail media networks, whose core value proposition of closed-loop sales attribution, consistently fits the marketer’s bill for return on ad spend (ROAS) and ad sales lift KPIs.

However, retail media networks also offer a trove of upper- to mid-funnel opportunities and should be at the top of the consideration list for brands looking to build long-term brand health in cost-effective ways.

Retail media networks—not just for ROAS

When it comes to full-funnel opportunities, consider what retail media networks can do:

Expand brand awareness and influence consideration: Retail media networks use first-party data to create a pipeline of future customers who can be converted at lower acquisition costs.

Offer personalized engagement opportunities: Retail media networks help consumers see value in engaging with brands, urging them to consent to opt-in for content (including ads).

Leverage first-party attributes and are measurable: Retail media networks ensure campaign targeting is relevant, and performance is tied to value delivered. The role of upper-funnel campaigns is to create brand awareness and drive consumers to consider and eventually purchase a product, essentially widening the bottom half of the funnel.

Present relatively superior targeting opportunities for upper-funnel tactics: Audience selection can be based on first-party behavior signals from off-platform media engagement (clicks, video views), including email, app push, SMS, etc., as well as category page visitors that do not visit your brand pages.

Suggest scalable audience segments: These segments can be scaled for size or geography using tactics such as lookalike segments seeded from first-party segments (from the retail media network and/or the brand) and data partnerships with media networks for in-platform audience expansion.

Not only are these high-quality audiences (in-market, high-intent signals), but they are also potentially available at a lower CPM compared to traditional retail media network purchase segments. This allows brand marketers to stretch their budgets while expanding their reach in a meaningful fashion, leveraging brand-relevant and high-quality first-party attributes.

Provide tailored measurement and optimization frameworks: These can help improve upper funnel KPIs, such as the number of visits and visitors to brand pages; the number of first-time visitors to brand pages; as well as brand recall (through query volume of branded search terms—both absolute and share of basket).

It’s time to future-proof

With third-party cookies being phased out, consistently investing in upper-funnel campaigns allows brands to expand their addressable first-party audience dataset within the retail media network, thereby future-proofing scalable tactics and cost efficiencies.

Also, it’s now possible to target actual shoppers for building trust via value-based, personalized engagements (as opposed to “buy now” calls to action), ensuring ad dollars deliver sustainable long-term brand equity and loyalty. Plus, the measurement framework reassures leadership there is clear reporting oversight in place connecting ad spend to value delivered.

It’s also important to note the potential for applying similar scalable frameworks to other use cases, such as influencing consideration along the path to purchase. Again, this depends on each brand’s individual needs as well as the appropriate channel, targeting and call-to-action mix.

Brands need to shift away from thinking retail media networks are just for ROAS and, instead, engage retail media partners for innovative media planning, data and measurement frameworks. These partnerships are a win-win for both parties, combining complementary skill sets toward a unified strategic goal and ultimately delivering value to consumers.