Interactive Advertising Bureau
22 November 2023

Exploring Retail Media Measurement: A Q&A with Our Retail Media Committee Experts 

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Retail Media is transforming the digital advertising ecosystem and how brands invest in it. In a recent IAB Europe survey, Retail Media buyers and sellers were asked about which standards are most important for investment, and the majority of buyers (90%) and sellers (84%) cited media and attribution measurement. 

To dive into this a little further, experts from our Retail Media Committee share their insight into the type of measurement and metrics that buyers expect from a Retail Media Network. 

A big thank you to the following contributors for sharing their thoughts:

  • Diana Abebrese, Global Retail Media Lead, EPAM Systems
  • Rutmer Faber, Retail Media Lead & Marketplaces, Publicis Groupe Netherlands
  • Dirk Hahn, Executive Professional Retail Media, Schwarz Media
  • Mark Bausinger, Senior Director, Business Development, DoubleVerify
  • Christian Bahrendt, Head of Product, Advertima 
  • Laura Badea, Global eCommerce Partner, GroupM

Q. What measurement data do you expect from any Retail Media Network?

Diana: I expect basic media measurement including reach metrics (impressions/footfall); viewability, and engagement metrics (clicks, reactions/shares); video views; and sales attribution metrics (still likely to be last-touch attribution). However, retailers need to move past this  very quickly, to providing fully de-duped multi-touch attribution measurement at a campaign level. 

Rutmer: Since retail media has the advantage of closed-loop measurement, reporting on sales including transparent attribution is essential, both for offline, online and across different advertising tools within the consumer journey that retailers are offering. Campaign delivery data should also include costs (CPM/CPC), reach and engagement insights where feasible. For the offline channel we often see retailers offering sales uplift based on store comparisons (considering store profiles that are comparable) and for example D-OTS (digital opportunity to see) for in-store screens. The online channel; has a lot more data such as unique reach, impressions (based on viewability standards), clicks, add-to-carts, conversions, sales and ROAS. Metrics such as new-to-brand and share of voice are also starting to become more standard,  so I would expect these insights as well.

Mark: Agencies and advertisers should expect the same media quality assurances they would see from any other digital campaign.  It’s important to have standardisation across media types for accurate channel comparison and effective media planning.  Comprehensive media quality coverage includes measurement of the following; brand safety, viewability, IVT/fraud, and geo verification. These types of media quality measurements are crucial to ensure effective and efficient media spend.

Christian: We are focused on in-store Retail Media. Our key objective is to make in-store shoppers addressable in real-time, like online media channels. So, similar to online, the fundamental metrics aim to measure engagement opportunities for the upper funnel and attributable direct sales for the lower. The basic metric for engagement is audience reach, measured through unique shoppers, impressions, and their respective ratios. For sales, its transaction data that is sliced and diced into the most relevant sub-totals such as SKU sales, item sales, etc. 

Laura: Standard reporting should be real time and include media campaign performance across the purchase funnel, eg: Reach, Viewable Impressions,  Video completion rates, Clicks, CTR, Page views, Units sold, paid sales (value), conversion rate CR, Repeat Purchase rate RPR, New to Brand NTB, ROAS, Add to cart.

Additionally, retailer specific benchmarks for high level categories updated on regular basis, for main KPIs such as CTR, CR, ROAS, etc 

Q. What additional metrics (beyond the basics) have you received from Retail Media Networks that you thought were valuable? 

Diana: I have found the following insights valuable for evaluating media effectiveness and to build a more holistic story around campaign performance:reach v frequency; new v loyal buyers; incremental sales; customer journey insights; basket affinity; shopper mission; shopper lifestage/segment. 

Rutmer: In the current state of the industry, metrics beyond the basics play an important role in offering a more holistic perspective on retail media, a crucial aspect on the path to maturity. We see here that retailers are starting to provide more insights on the ‘true’ value of multiple retail media touchpoints and interaction effects next to last touch attribution. These insights are needed to determine the right mix of tools to reach a certain brand goal for our clients. This can be for instance incremental sales, increasing reach or penetration within a target group or increasing brand awareness related KPIs. This is often done with the help of retailers in combination with an independent research company and the agency, ideally it contains multiple retailers and channels to be able to compare retail media against other media channels also taking into account costs. Besides media insights, brand and category are sometimes shared as well and can be used to identify opportunities for brands to grow. Examples are traffic and conversion insights versus competition, path to purchase insights, market basket insights etc.      

Dirk: Additional metrics that we might provide include; customer lifetime revenue (new to brand customer: forecast for 12 months), category share/growth, retail baseline. 

Mark: We’re seeing more demand for Attention metrics.  This expands on the concept of viewability by incorporating Engagement and Exposure.  Engagement is the measurement of user interaction including variables such as user presence and ad interaction.  Exposure is the measurement of ad presentation including metrics such as viewable time and share of screen.  Together, these advanced measurements combine to form a more sophisticated understanding of use and ad interaction.  This is important for on-site media where viewability rates may be lower, but Attention can be higher; showing a different type of user interaction with retail media advertising. 

Christian: At first, it's essential to stress the physical peculiarities of the in-store environment compared to online. Many more products vie for the attention of every single shopper at the same time. Also, it has to be considered that physical store media operates in a one-to-many environment. This makes it more complex than most online environments. Therefore, smart metrics for in-store Retail Media should help brands understand this "noise" in an actionable way. 

Assessing the impression frequency per unique shopper helps understand the density of ad exposure within the stores. For more tailored analyses, the measurements should extend to segment-specific figures for views and view times to equip brands with crucial insights into their creative process. This can help answer questions like whether a simple packshot plus price is the best or if there is some need for creative execution with animation, etc.

Laura: Media agencies and advertisers have always been looking to understand the sales contribution of each channel in the marketing mix, to be able to optimise investment allocation to improve performance. Retail media is now competing for budgets with the rest of the media plan, and therefore there is a need to understand the incremental lift driven by activating retail powered audiences on and off retail platforms, versus direct investment in core media channels. Sales uplift studies should become the norm for large retailers looking to unlock advertising $.

With retailers evolving their measurement capabilities it is expected that customer insights (browsing and purchase behaviour, basket composition, repeat purchase rate, lifetime value), category insights SOV, SOM and benchmarks to become standard requirements to inform and drive rigour and accountability in the strategic planning process.

Q. How do you put these metrics to use as part of your future buying decisions?

Diana: Across the board from annual strategy development, budgeting, testing and prioritisation through to individual campaign planning. 

Typical use cases include: 

  • Designing and testing customer journeys with different creatives and calls to action;
  • Testing incremental contribution of individual media by adding/removing from core plan;
  • Defining the role of each media and use within relevant campaign types. 
  • Creating customer journeys by audience/persona type - although we should also be thinking about how we can achieve this at individual customer level for the future, using AI/ML technology.

Rutmer: These insights hold significant importance for us as they play a crucial role in assessing alignment with specific brand objectives for our clients. Our primary aim is to gain a comprehensive understanding of how various retail media networks can help achieve these goals and how effective different tools are within a network. This is often combined with broader information from clients on retailer relationships and challenges. We are continuously testing different tools, creatives and prioritising the right networks, tools and creatives that work well for our clients in achieving their goals.

Dirk: Media buyers and brands can use the metrics to evaluate the spend as follows:

  • Category share - see the category share and the potential within a product category
  • Retail baseline - see the campaign effect during and after the campaign
  • Customer lifetime revenue - see the long term effect of a retail media campaign

Mark: Having a deeper understanding of media quality and performance in retail media will help inform better campaign optimisations, as well as larger media investment decisions.  We see increased measurement opportunities as a maturing of the retail media vertical and early adopters will benefit the most from this increased sophistication.

Christian: The major challenge for physical stores is that they need to be equipped with sensors to have real-time data to work with. Only then can you run effectively through a multi-stage optimisation process. As described earlier, first, you optimise the creative effectiveness to leverage media budgets better. Do the creatives get enough view time? Do call-to-actions lead to acceptable conversion rates? Are there meaningful differences across the segments in-store that we can act upon?

Phase two is to look into planning. There is no "search field" in in-store journeys, so trips are not cut short after an item grab, and the whole trip is overall more linear. This means planning engagement across different categories and cross-selling has more tactical depth than online. Repeated engagement across different categories will yield better sales conversion for some segments, justifying extra ad spend. Finding this sweet spot for every segment, product, and category is where real-time addressability plays to its strength.

Laura: We use sales uplift studies, MMMs and customer and category insights to inform planning process and determine budget allocation across channels, based on client goals, portfolio, growth drivers, allocation between search vs display/video, on and off platform. We look at retailers’ media capability, maturity, and off platform reach to feed into the annual planning process. Budgeting is an ongoing process throughout the year, based on performance signals.  

Q. How can brands measure across on-site and off-site campaigns effectively?

Diana: With difficulty if you are buying off-site across multiple networks. Every platform will claim the sale, and many do not currently provide measurement data at the right level of granularity. Retailers need to own their own measurement through ad tagging and tracking customer touchpoints (ad views) as they lead to a sale either online or in-store. For this they need ad platforms to provide ad view data at user level (anonymised) which they can then attribute to the purchase by that user of the promoted product. Retailers should adopt industry standard methodology, and make the reporting available within the buyer platform of choice through APIs.
Rutmer: This is a challenge for retailers and having a good loyalty system that is able to track user behaviour across different channels is essential when in-store is added in the channel mix as well. For providing on-site and off-site integrated measurement, unified data collection (taking into account privacy compliance) and modelling would be needed to look beyond last touch attribution based data from different touch points. 

Dirk: I completely agree with Diana’s comment, it is very difficult to measure across on and off-site channels currently. 

Christian: On online channels, Retail Media has the USP that measurements are based on personal shopper data. In physical stores, sensors only generate anonymous data to keep privacy front and centre. This creates the classic challenge to work with deterministic and probabilistic data at the same time. But of course, you still want to bridge the gap between online and in-store. The way we address this for the upper funnel is to align in-store segments as best as possible with online. You don't need to know who somebody is as long as you have the relevant attributes used to target in every category. Probabilistic IDs will work very well.

For the lower funnel, you need conclusive shopper data, which is why here we work backwards. Retail Media Networks (RMN) know their customers through loyalty and what they have bought. We, on the other hand, can provide anonymous full-funnel in-store journeys that start with the screen engagement and end at the till. The RMN now matches both data sets for its permissioned customer data. In this way, the network unlocks insights for the customers who want to be known while making it technically impossible for everybody else. This process can be managed over a data clean room, adding an extra privacy layer with access controls and audit trails.

Laura: Right now the last click attribution model favours point of sale on platform retail media tactics. The ability to change the attribution model should help make the upper and middle funnel tactics accountable for driving sales alongside lower funnel tactics. I am hopeful that in the future the adoption of clean rooms at scale will facilitate linear attribution models and a more comprehensive path to purchase analysis to become standard reporting.

Find out more

IAB Europe’s Retail Media Committee is at the forefront of the retail media industry. Members are driving retail media growth and shaping the landscape by:

  • Creating definitions
  • Defining pan-European standards
  • Providing market education

Find out more about getting involved by contacting Marie-Clare Puffett - puffett [@]

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