Advertising Is Dead, Long Live Retail Media

Published 3rd Feb 2022 by James Taylor & Caitlin McCartney
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The death of third party cookies is upon us and it's going to change the way advertisers engage with consumers online. 

With Google and Apple announcing their intention to phase out support for third party cookies in the next two years, the rules of digital advertising will be re-written. 

In this blog post, we’ll run through an overview of third party cookies, how they’re currently being used, and how this change presents an enormous opportunity for retailers to profit with Retail Media platforms. 

First off, what are third party cookies? 

A cookie is a small piece of data stored on your computer by your browser. Every time you visit a web page, your browser retrieves the page and then sends it back to your computer along with any cookies that website has created for you. Cookies can be used to track and remember your activity on and across websites.

Third party cookies tend to include data from other websites besides the one reading that data. It is how you get advertised the sneakers you looked at last week on a fashion site, even though you are now reading an online newspaper.

How do marketers currently use third party cookies? 

Social media sites (yes, including Facebook), ad servers (including Google display advertising) and life-chat pop ups are just a few hosts who use third-party cookies. They track you across domains, using your information/clickstream to share relevant ads with you during your online experience. Basically, the benefit of third party cookies is to retarget customers (just like you) as you move from site to site. 

While this data is how many operators have reached you with relevant digital ads in the past, times are changing - and, importantly, it is in the best interest of the consumer.

With marketers facing the challenge of reducing articles back to first party data in the same context as expanding customer data privacy laws, we must consider what data we have and how to best utilize it for optimal awareness, engagement sales and customer experience (CX). 

Before we jump into solution mode, let’s discuss why cookies are being phased out in the first place.

Ensuring customer data privacy and anonymity is of paramount importance. We believe businesses have a responsibility not just in what data they collect, but how they protect it.

You would have seen privacy advocates discussing personal data protection in recent years. This, along with mission-driven tech giants, has led to a tightening on data rules and regulations. 

We believe the most effective way to protect consumers is to put them in control of their information and give them tools that allow them to opt in and out of tracking when desired.

When we look at what to expect in the future, this doesn't mean that all third party cookies will be eliminated; it just means that browsers will no longer accept them from sites you haven't visited. In 2023, or when this is implemented, third party ad networks will still be able to collect information from your browsing history, but they will only be able to use this information if you agree or "opt-in" to their service by going directly to their site. 

It’s clear, going forward, we need to rethink the game. We have a choice, do we continue to focus on targeting and engaging through more limited first party data, or do we focus on the rich data sources they have to create unique experiences?

Enter Retail Media 

In this new world, advertisers will not be able to advertise based on your behavior on other websites, and even if targeting your current context (e.g. advertising flights when you’re reading about a holiday destination), without third party cookies they will not be able to measure the performance of those adverts across sites without third party cookies. At least not as easily.

Enter Retail Media!

Retail Media allows a brand to spend ad dollars on placement of a product on a retailer’s website to engage with customers who have high purchase intent, putting the right product in front of the right customer at the right time. 

Retail Media also allows advertisers to directly measure increased share of voice by sponsoring and promoting specific items, and directly measure return on investment (ROI) since sales on an eCommerce website can be tracked with first party data in that session or across sessions too.

Many of the biggest retailers either already have or are building their own retail media platforms (e.g. Walmart, Target, BestBuy), and in fact Amazon’s sponsored products business made $26 billion dollars in revenue in 2021 alone! With massive funding, resources, and first party data to fuel the momentum, the big players can afford to build out Retail Media networks on their own, however many mid-market retailers don’t have this luxury.

At Particular Audience (PA), we use product data to understand the deepest relationship between items and browsing behavior, which means we can optimize a website to give customers personalized experience that matches their shopping intent, their context and onsite behaviour without violating personal data nor needing to use a single third party cookie. Neat right! Our Retail Media Platform uses the same personalization technology to predict the right product for the right customer, meaning that when advertisements are shown they are relevant to the customer and their shopping context. 

This means more relevancy for the customer, more engagement for advertisers and more sales! All stakeholders benefit.

It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) Retail Media networks are powerful because they drive a better consumer experience (CX) and greater customer loyalty while boosting vendor and retailer sales and bottom line. 

Say Samsung wants to promote it’s latest television on a large consumer electronics website, Particular Audience can ensure placement of that television specifically in front of high purchase intent consumers looking for similar spec TVs. In this case, the brand benefits from the most efficient use of conversion focused ad spend, they grow their share of voice, the retailer montizes clicks and traffic on their site: gaining a high margin revenue stream in the process. Most importantly, the customer finds exactly what they were looking for, faster. Everyone wins.

In short

Without access to third-party cookies, marketers need to rethink the most effective ways to utilize data to optimize for sales and conversions, not to mention better CX. Retail Media presents an incredible opportunity for advertisers and retailers. Brands can communicate with the right customers at the right time. Providing a relevant and trustworthy experience for customers, it's extremely efficient for brands, and retailers profit off the click and the sale.  

To level the playing field, especially if you don’t have the resources of Amazon at your fingertips, there are providers who offer Retail Media in their service suite. Just like us. 

If you want to reach out or get a free demo on Retail Media email hello@particularaudience.com.

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