• Advertising
  • Media Consumption & Trends

Take 5 Q&A With VMLY&R Commerce's Lauren Blass

Sarah Hughes
Sarah Hughes
5 min read
Posted on April 05, 2022
Take 5 Q&A With VMLY&R Commerce's Lauren Blass

InMobi Commerce’s goal is to provide retailers and advertisers with all the tools they need to thrive in today’s retail media ecosystem. That includes talking with industry experts about emerging trends in retail media, tips on how brands and retailers can work together more successfully, and more.   

In this edition of “Take Five,” Sarah Hughes, Head of Marketing at InMobi Commerce, sat down with Lauren Blass, SVP of Client Engagement at VMLY&R Commerce, to discuss the rise of retail media and how brands and retailers should capitalize on this growing channel.   

You can listen to the full interview here.

Question 1: Why Do You Think Retail Media Has Become Such A Hot Topic? 
Retail media has been an important part of omni-commerce planning for years now. However, due to the proliferation of online shopping as a result of the pandemic, the importance placed on search and display has rapidly accelerated. Shoppers are spending less time in-store, and when they do venture inside, they’re likely not browsing in the way that they did prior to COVID-19.  

So, if you have a new product, and people are no longer going to shop in-store, traditional marketing vehicles are no longer going to be as effective. Marketers must place a heavier emphasis on meeting consumers where they are (online) and on staying top-of-mind. Winning category search keywords and having display placements where shoppers are actually looking is now a necessity.  

Marketers see and understand the shifting trends in shopper behavior, and they also understand the value of being able to create custom audience segments to target relevant shoppers. As we continue to lose the ability to target shoppers through their device IDs, leveraging rich customer data from retailer media networks becomes one of our most favorable options for reaching key customers. 

Question 2: What Do You Think Retailers Can do to Make Their Platforms More Appealing To Brand And Agencies Buying Their Media?  
Transparency in reporting. With such large investments being made on retailer media placements and brand pages, I would like to be able to glean additional insights into who is clicking on my banners, the time(s) of day that display is most effective for my category, what time of a day my search budget should be spent against specific keywords, etc.  

Additionally, I would love to see data informing the creative that’s being delivered to a specific person or audience segment. For instance, the way that I shop the snack category for my kids on a Sunday evening stock-up trip is very different than the way a single Gen Z male would shop for a quick-fill in trip on a Thursday afternoon. How could creative be served up in a way that resonates with both audiences? 

It would also be great to see more flexibility with self-service platforms and the assets that can be built out through that offering. 

Question 3: How Are You Advising Brands to Reach Their Audiences Effectively if They’re Trying to Divide Budgets Across Four or Five Different Retailers? 
Typically, clients are given a set budget to spend against retailer media based upon a percentage of sales or their agreed-upon annual commitment. We are focused less on guiding them on how to break out their spend across retailers, and more so on how to make their dollars work harder.  

Whether we’re focused on only supporting big bets or key tentpoles throughout the year, or whether we’re heavily investing in an always-on search strategy, it really is dependent upon the brand and its needs. We’re also constantly trying to figure out the tightrope of meeting annual spend commitments onsite + creating a holistic offsite program to ensure we’re getting the most possible eyeballs on our programming.  

At the end of the day, our job is to create effective and inspiring campaigns that reach shoppers where they’re at, and that’s typically a mixture of onsite and offsite tactics. Offsite tactics give you more levers to pull in terms of audience segmentation and reaching additional people that you may not be capturing with onsite advertising alone. 

Question 4: As Retail Media Keeps Evolving, How Do You Think Brands and Retailers Can Work Together to Create Better Consumer Experiences?  
It has been amazing to see what Walmart’s test store in Springdale has done in terms of addressable data. I believe that is the future. Retailers sit on such a rich bed of customer data.  

While we’re seeing an influx of online shopping now, there is always a pendulum shift back the other way. Consumers want engaging experiences, and they want experiences tailored to meet their needs. By utilizing highly targeted data, retailers will be able to reach shoppers in-store with ads that are relevant specifically to them and their needs.  

I’m excited to see how traditional in-store POS will be replaced by digital kiosks. I’m also interested to see how buying those placements evolves and who within retailer organizations will own that. 

Question 5: Where Do You See Retail Media Evolving Over the Next Few Years? 

Retailer media will continue to play a major role in marketing plans as retailers place the most emphasis on supporting their omni-commerce offerings. While we’re presently spending against onsite placements, I believe the future will be a blend of onsite and in-store digital advertising.  

As I mentioned, addressable data is and will continue to be incredibly important to capture shoppers based on their need state. Serving relevant, targeted messaging in-store along with ratings and reviews will become an expectation, not a surprise and delight experience. I look forward to the day that I have a tailored shopping experience being a mom of three kids! 

To hear more from Lauren, you can listen to her full interview here or you can follow her on LinkedIn. If you would like to provide your thoughts on retail media in our next Take Five interview, contact us today at https://www.inmobi.com/company/contact. 


About Lauren:  
Lauren is a Northwest Arkansas native with over a decade of experience in shopper, social and digital marketing. Throughout her career, Lauren has focused on multiple disciplines including project management, client services, product development, CX design and digital strategy. She has guided multi-site teams and managed key account relationships with The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, Mars Wrigley, Kraft, Keurig Dr Pepper, T-Mobile and Disney. 

Lauren began her career in social shopper media where she coordinated many successful social campaigns for products across retailers. After years in the influencer marketing space, Lauren switched gears to focus on product development in emerging media. 

During her time at Unilever, Lauren worked in both CX design and account leadership roles on the Walmart/Club business where she focused on building out connected plans that consider all touchpoints along a shopper’s path-to-purchase and how that shopper can best be reached. One of the programs that Lauren worked on, AXE Start His Journey, received a Gold Effie in 2019 and was also nominated for a Grand Effie. 

Most recently, Lauren has worked on both Mondelēz International and The Coca-Cola Company accounts leading frontline marketing across all retailers.

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