The Drum and InMobi recently sat down with key experts to get industry viewpoints to help retailers prepare for and capitalize on the retail media revolution. Here is our interview with Boots UK and ROI's Ollie Shayer.
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What role has retail media played in Boots’s response to the pandemic?
Retail media has always been a big part of Boots’s heritage. We have a great retail media team working in close collaboration with our supplier partners. The latest evolution is our own in-house agency, Boots Media Group, which we launched in partnership with Threefold in September 2021. Our goals are to provide a much broader range of media to our suppliers and to help them optimize and scale their campaigns by leveraging our incredibly valuable first-party data.
How long standing is the Boots Advantage card program? Other factors like the deprecation of third-party cookies is turning attention to other ways of finding your audience, it's almost as if the data there is just going to come of age.
It's 25 years, would you believe it? And it obviously played a huge part during that period, so it's definitely a key part of our future. Brands want to work with partners that have the verified first-party data they need to find their target audiences. With our new retail media offering, we want to enable high-performing marketing campaigns for our supplier base and maximize their advertising ROI. And as we evolve and have less third-party data, it gives us more of an opportunity to use remaining available data to help them find the audiences that they want.
What do you think retail media as a channel brings to the table for advertisers that other channels can't match?
Retail media is an incredibly exciting space. It was one of the main reasons I wanted to return back to the UK to work with Boots. And this proposition is an incredible space to work in. It's really evolving fast. And I think the interest is clearly growing. Retail media gives a real breadth of offerings to suppliers in store, on-site and off-site. Also, what it allows you to do most critically is really close that gap between advertising and sales – and increasingly between the online and offline world because it’s an integrated omni approach; so really understanding if I'm spending a pound here, what's the effect of it in the online environment and in the offline environment? I think that's key.
So it’s that closed loop structure that is particularly attractive to the advertisers?
100%. Particularly now, when everyone's conscious of the investment that they're making in advertising, and really understanding that return, I think those are key to being able to showcase that, as it's becoming increasingly important.
Back to the deprecation of third-party cookies. Has that made retail media an easier sale in terms of engaging advertisers with the proposition, particularly in terms of digital retail media as well?
It's one of those things where we're all looking towards what the future will be. We know that the digital landscape is evolving and there's a lot of understanding that the value of first-party data is only going to increase. Obviously brands and suppliers want to work with partners who have verified first-party data. And so it is something that actively they've spoken to us about – how do we look to reach our audiences in a better way?
Who do you see as the major players in the retail media space right now?
The US definitely are the flag bearers and our colleagues are doing a great job with Walgreens. And I know that obviously the rest of the industry in the UK from a retail perspective is also very interested in recent announcements that a number of different retailers have made around what they're doing in the space, so I think it's only going to grow. But from a major player perspective, I would look to the other side of the Atlantic.
So is it fair to say that you fully expect to see more brands allocate ads budget to retail media with you over the next 24 months?
I definitely think so based on the conversations that we're having. What we're seeing in the industry, it's becoming an increasingly interesting area, not only for what were probably retail budgets, but equally as we move into brand budgeting as well, because increasingly partners want to be able to understand the return that they're getting. And if you're able to do that, and at the same time access the inventory they would have accessed before anyway, then again that's only beneficial to you.
And in terms of the actual inventory that you have on offer for your digital spaces, does that include video, or is that something you're working on at the moment?
Ultimately we want to provide a full omnichannel offering to our suppliers; we want to be able to offer in-store and on-site, which we do already, and then our off-site proposition is something that we are developing and we're still working on partnering with some beta partners on that. But it will definitely include all of the channels: video, display and more. Broader than that, we’ll start to look into some offline channels like outdoor, and channels where we can leverage our data in that way and offer that to suppliers. Based on the conversations I’m having with clients, that’s absolutely what they want.