Madison Ave. Meets the Merchants
A Report from the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting

By Larry DeGaris, Executive Director, Medill Spiegel Research Center

“Signal Loss”—Avoidance and Magical Thinking
I attended the IAB’s Annual Leadership meeting at the end of January. The primary topic of the conference was “signal loss” and how the industry will adapt to the coming cookie-less world. In my informal poll of conference attendees, the level of preparedness for data deprecation was a 3 out of 10. That might be generous. The most common reactions to the loss of cookies seem to be: (1) avoidance—according to an IAB survey, about a third of industry execs don’t think it’ll happen (it will), and (2) magical thinking— “people” are working on “things.” There’s a sense of optimism that things will work out, but very little detail about how.

Retail Media and 1st-Party Data
Retail media was a major track at the conference, as it’s one of the few concrete ways of addressing the loss of cookies. While there’s a lot of excitement about the potential of retail media, the industry is still finding its way. In an effort to move retail media forward, the IAB unveiled its measurement standards for retail media, which Medill RAC helped to draft.

While the measurement standards have been drafted, there has been little actual measurement outside of the retail networks grading their own homework. Consequently, the Medill Retail Analytics Council and Spiegel Research Center are currently working with the IAB and its retail members on an “incrementality” project to isolate the effects of retail media on product sales. Our plan is to run some Randomized Controlled Tests (RCTs) to establish a baseline of results and then see how well different models stack up.

A conference attendee from a major brand asked, “How do I know the results are from retail media and not something else?” Good question.

How retail media should be interested in the broader JBPs, and integrated marketing communications plans is a big question. As one panelist noted, it would be a shame if all that comes out of the rapid growth of Retail Media Networks is that retailers tap into Madison Avenue money. The RAC will continue to work with the IAB on developing a playbook for budget allocation and optimization, integration into JBPs and IMC, and measurement.

Where digital advertising fits into the broader integrated campaigns raises the issue of budget allocation. Where will the money come from? Will it be incremental or taken from existing budgets elsewhere?

In-Store Displays and Foot Traffic Impressions
The number of people passing through the retailers has gained a lot of attention from media buyers. It’s a Super Bowl level of potential impressions every month.

While I was in Florida, I stopped at a Publix, where I noticed a display for Boar’s Head lunchmeat with a video screen on top of it. The monitor was running a generic Boar’s Head brand ad, which seemed like a wasted opportunity for the context. What does the video contribute? What kind of content works best in this context? It would be a shame if all that comes of in-store retail media is slapping video screens on top of in-store displays and running generic ads.

How can trade marketing and media planning be balanced in-store? How can in-store media be measured beyond counting foot traffic and impressions? The RAC will be working with the IAB’s Retail Media Working Group to answer those questions.

We want to hear from you!
What are your views on retail media? What should we be working on? Let us know!

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