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The Home Depot believes its specialty status will help it stand out despite competition for retail media ad dollars

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Despite the continued growth of retail media networks this year — even gas station chain Wawa recently unveiled a new retail media offering, Goose Media Network, last month — Home Depot isn’t worried about increased competition for retail media ad dollars given its specialty retailer status.

That’s not to say that Home Depot is resting on its laurels and expecting advertisers to spend regardless of their offering — the retailer is continuing to update its offering, under Retail Media+ and capabilities for advertisers to stay competitive, of course — but that being a specialty retailer can be a competitive edge. Some marketers have had difficulty deciding where to spend when it comes to retail media and the continued fragmentation with more and more retail media networks entering the marketplace hasn’t made that easier.

“We’re specialty but we’re not small, we have massive volume,” said Melanie Babcock, vp of Retail Media+ and monetization at The Home Depot, adding that the retailer has more than 2,300 stores throughout North America, making it easy to pitch advertisers on scale as well as specialty. 

The Home Depot also believes its first-party data pitch, which is less reliant on demographic or psychographic data and more interested in the types of home projects its customers are doing, helps it stand out to advertisers, both endemic and non-endemic. 

“We are more interested in the types of projects you are doing,” said Babcock. “Say you and I are both redoing our kitchen. We could be living in different [types of homes.] You could be living in a townhome. I could be living in a home. We could be so different in so many different ways that I think traditional media psychographics and demographics don’t apply because we’re in this project.” 

As Home Depot looks to branch out beyond the endemic advertisers and beef up its offering to woo non-endemic advertisers, the retailer has been testing to see how its data would be attractive to those non-endemic advertisers. 

“We think that the audiences that we have are valuable, especially to very specific segments like financial services because if you’re in your home, you need to insure it and most of them have a car of some kind,” said Babcock. “So there’s a lot of adjacency categories that would be interested in a new mover, for instance. Or they would be interested in this pro or small business owner. Maybe they have a different offering for that small business owner like cell phone coverage or something like that.”

Babcock continued: “That’s really important for a lot of specialty retailers is to think about what are those adjacency categories that could be leveraged as a part of your retail media network. And that’s how we’re leaning in.” 

That approach makes sense to ad buyers and researchers who see Home Depot as a solid player within the ever-expanding retail media landscape. 

“Home Depot’s status as a specialty retailer benefits its media proposition as an RMN,” said Harry Inglis, head of activation, Media by Mother, in an email. “Home Depot is well situated to cater to customers’ various life stages, whether moving house, running a small business, or redecorating.” 

Inglis continued: “Movers are individuals likely in need of insurance, mortgage, IP connectivity, or in the market for large ticket items. If there’s an ability to segment these audiences by ‘pre-, during and post’ move, this will enhance the attractiveness of a Home Depot test buy, even alongside existing retail media network investments.”

It helps that Home Depot was “first mover,” noted Jennifer Kohl, chief media offer at VML, as the retailer rolled out its offering in 2019 long before the glut of retail media networks over the last few years.

“The challenges in retail media right now are fragmentation, so there’s a billion different retailers and it’s really hard to run 50 different ad campaigns and nobody has the same measurement metrics or stats that they’re giving you,” said Luke Stillman, svp of Global Market Intelligence at MAGNA. “So it’s really hard to compare one retailer to another, so if you’re competing, you’re competing on scale or specificity. And like Home Depot has a little bit of both of those things.”

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