Marketing Briefing: Marketers test retail media even more as the third-party cookie crumbles

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As marketers continue preparations for Google to finally sunset the third-party cookie altogether in Chrome, first-party data becomes that much more important. While major marketers have been testing alternatives, they’ve also been bolstering their first-party data strategies.

That makes the pitch for retailers, who are in an arms race of sorts with retailers beefing up capabilities to shore up as many advertisers — both endemic and non-endemic — as possible to spend on their retail media networks, even more palatable. Marketers who weren’t as keen to spend on retail media networks are being won over by retail media networks’ first-party data pitch. While Amazon is an obvious leader when it comes to retail media, the behemoth isn’t the only one recognizing the opportunity now.

Retail media grew as more retailers began offering networks, including The Home Depot to Ulta and Wawa, and advertisers put more dollars to those networks. As the cookie crumbles, some marketers are betting on retail media with the likes of 75-year-old Tropicana telling Digiday that the customer insights garnered from retail media networks has been increasingly more important.

“Retailer data is already super valuable,” said Luke Stillman, svp of global market intelligence at MAGNA, when asked if retail media could benefit from Google’s third-party cookie deprecation. “It’s only going to become more valuable. I would say that it’s gonna be an incremental tailwind.”

That’s not to say that advertisers are moving budgets to retail media networks simply because of the cookie deprecation; they were already moving dollars there — but more may be on the way now, even if just marginally. “There’s already so much growth and additional money going into retail media that it’s unclear how much more there’s going to be just because the data landscape deteriorates,” said Stillman. “Maybe it goes from plus 20% to plus 25% or something because of their data being relatively more valuable in that space.”

At the same time, clients are overall more open to testing and learning on retail media networks now. In response, media buyers say that they are presenting more retail media to clients than ever before, even those in non-endemic categories, and that clients are asking more questions, considering retail media networks more seriously.

“It’s still a crawl, walk, run — I would say most are around the walk stage,” said Bana Amare, director of activation at Media by Mother, when asked to characterize how clients are shifting ad dollars to retail media networks now given the demise of the cookie.

Some marketers have been moving dollars to retail media for testing purposes, explained Amare, while others are still considering the move. “There’s exploration happening in different stages but given a lot of brands — clients are just cautious of quickly going into like any new space.” 

As marketers look for ways to deal with the death of the third-party cookie, they are “open to all different aspects including retail media networks, but I wouldn’t say that’s cause and effect,” noted Jennifer Kohl chief media officer at VML ad agency.

Instead, the simultaneous rise of retail media as the cookie crumbles could be likened to two trains moving forward on tracks together.

“We’re going where the eyeballs are and where our target audience is,” said Kohl. “At the end of the day we’re going where we’re going to get the reaction and the engagement and the conversion that we need. So, if it’s over here on RMNs, great. If it’s over here on programmatic, if it’s here on streaming, we’re going to follow the eyeballs that we need.”

3 Questions with Jackie Jantos, CMO of Hinge

Today’s social landscape is increasingly polarized. How are you, as a marketer, navigating that? 

I believe social impact work really is the future of brand marketing, particularly when you’re working to engage younger audiences and young adults. Gen Z is our core audience. This generation expects a lot more from brands, and the behaviors and activities of a brand in the real world are what they’re using to judge what a brand’s values are and what a brand stands for. The days of communicating your values through messaging are long gone and today, we really need to act in accordance with our values as a brand. For Hinge, we know that the most challenging mental health and wellness crisis facing this young generation is around this felt sense of loneliness.

Publications like The New York Times have written at length about Gen Z’s waning interest in dating apps. How are you responding to that shift?

We’re going to where they are getting their news and their entertainment. So it is channels like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube. What’s different about the way we’re doing work to engage them in those spaces is that we are really focused on engaging creators whose content and information they’re already engaging with. Our strategy is really around building strong relationships with emerging creators who already have an authentic connection with their audience, and connect with the values and what we’re trying to do at Hinge. Our relationship is built on really strong footing and they are able to help us communicate and engage in really relevant ways with their existing audiences.

Hinge positions itself as the app that’s meant to be deleted, but a recent lawsuit claims Hinge and its sister sites are designed for addiction. How do you square that as a marketer?

The dating app designed to be deleted is not just a positioning for the brand. It’s truly the driving force behind how the product is built. So this goal of getting individuals off the app into great dates is what the whole business is oriented around. We just know that when we focus on user outcomes, the growth to the app comes naturally. That really has been the focus for Hinge for many, many years. So I can’t speak to what other apps are doing but for us a focus on data outcomes is core to who we are and everything we do. — Kimeko McCoy

By the numbers

The rise of TikTok has pushed brands and advertisers to constantly produce enough content to keep up with the fast-paced, short form video app — so much so that some marketers considered lead agencies for the platform. But according to recent research from software company CreativeX, more than half of content produced, whether for TikTok or streaming ads, is wasted. Find details from the report below:

  • Brands invest millions each year in producing new content, but analysis from CreativeX uses AI technology to reveal that over 50% of this content is never published.
  • The average Fortune 500 company could be wasting at least $25 million a year on unused creative assets. Across the entire industry, that translates to $100 billion on assets that are never activated.
  • 52% of core assets created by brands were never activated across their markets.— Kimeko McCoy

Quote of the week

“2024 is the start of brands having dedicated global strategies for the anime space, in a way that they might have for the sports industry, music industry, gaming industry, et cetera. We have not necessarily seen that on a global scale until recently.”

— Tatiana Tacca, founder of consultancy Oni Vision, which is focused on the anime and gaming space, when asked about why brands like McDonald’s are working anime into marketing efforts now.

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