In conversations with brands, we often hear that the rich data being purchased from Digital Shelf providers doesn’t always make its way to the right partners, e.g., your Retail Media agencies, to act on. The result could be lost sales opportunities, under-performance, and a potential waste of your ad spend.
Without access to Digital Shelf performance analytics providing tell-tale signs of a brand’s retail readiness and digital shelf health, your Retail Media agency is flying blind. They may be pumping money into banner ads and paid sponsorships for products that at the end of the day really shouldn’t be promoted. For example, if the product is out-of-stock, you don’t want to put ad spend behind it; If your product detail page (PDP) is sub-par with non-compliant content, you probably don’t want to be promoting that product; etc.
In other words, before investing in Retail Media, you need to be certain your products are fully optimized on the Digital Shelf. Otherwise, you may as well be throwing money to the wind.
"Digital Shelf Analytics provide a wealth of actionable data that can be used for planning, activation, and optimization. A lot of the time it just isn't being used by Media Agency partners. Sharing the data represents a quick win for both the Brand and the Agency"
—David Halls, Vice President of Sales at eSTORE
Below are 5 ways you — and your Retail Media agency — can leverage Digital Shelf data to improve your Retail Media performance.
1. Ensure your products are retail-ready
What do we mean by retail-ready? It means your product, product content, and other digital shelf fundamentals are in good shape. Your products are:
- In stock and available
- Free of any content compliance issues
- Have an adequate number of reviews and a high average star rating
Retail-readiness requires having a scorecard in place. Even better, having a scorecard built into your Retail Media activation processes. For example, Retail Media agencies can benefit from having access to key scorecard metrics before executing any media activations against a particular product. This is where getting Digital Shelf data in the hands of your agency partners comes in handy.
See the table below for a list of Digital Shelf metrics we recommend you (and your agency partner, if you use one) monitor and consider before activating Retail Media. Because if your products aren’t retail-ready, you’re not getting the most bang for your Retail Media buck.
PRO TIP: Closely consider each of these Digital Shelf elements before activating Retail Media
Have a clear set of rules in place, e.g.,
Ideally, Product Availability is measured at the store level.
This underscores the importance of having a Content scorecard in place. Products with sub-par Content scores (i.e., missing or wrong content) or poorly executed Content typically don’t convert well. So, you’ll want to limit your media investment.
Price / Promotion
Media campaigns have a better chance of being effective when your product is priced right or is on promotion. But, sometimes promotions and price drops occur without you knowing. It helps to have a Digital Shelf solution that can alert you and your agency partners when this happens.
Something you definitely want to prevent is promoting a product, but then a 3rd party seller ends up winning the Buy Box because they end up benefiting from you sending traffic their way. Unfortunately, this is the reality of selling on marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart. This is when having a Digital Shelf tool that informs you when you’re losing the Buy Box, and consequently should pull your ad spend can prevent wasted investment.
Winning Search and being visible on the Digital Shelf is critical when selling online. Ask yourself: Do I have organic visibility in the first 5 spots of search results on Page 1? If not, you may want to consider investing in Retail Media (sponsored placement) to boost visibility.
- Set up custom rules for your products on what constitutes a “pass” in which activating Retail Media gets the green light.
- Create a clear and customized dashboard with the appropriate metrics and rules to share with your media agency.
PRO TIP: Share a Digital Shelf dashboard / scorecard with your media agency so they can quickly see which products are ready to advertise
2. Incorporate past learnings into future Retail Media planning
One approach we often recommend to clients is to analyze previous media activity, including an assessment of what your competitors are doing or have done in terms of media activations. Going through this kind of competitive exercise gives you an idea of the keyword terms, time frames, and vehicles your competitors tend to target with their ad spend.
You can drill down to understand things such as:
- Which retailer(s) are your competitors advertising on?
- What are your competitors doing in terms of seasonality or promotion during key seasonal events?
- Which day of the week or time of day are they targeting?
The more you know about your competitors’ Retail Media activities (how and when they target), the easier it is for you to avoid expensive times to further stretch your media budget.
PRO TIP: Use a Retail Media tracking solution to monitor banners and sponsored products on main and category pages, and on keyword-based search results pages
Having a media tracking solution in place can give you a better understanding of your competitors’ Retail Media activities. Using an automated solution like eSTORE’s Retail Media Analytics, you can address questions such as:
What is my competitors’ media strategy? Which products? What’s their advertising strategy? NPD strategies? What banners are they using?
- What is my Share of Voice vs. the competition? Should I step up my investment, and where?
Conducting this type of Retail Media analysis lets you outsmart your competitors, giving you a leg up to develop and execute your own effective Retail Media strategy.
- Monitor and analyze Retail Media activity taking place on all your key retailer sites.
- Apply what you learn from your Retail Media analysis to advance your own media planning.
3. Be ready to respond to competitors’ activities with your own Retail Media activations
Most Digital Shelf providers offer alert-based features, which is fairly simple to set up and automate. Alerts can be customized by user, which means brands can easily set up alerts that can be sent to your media agency to act upon.
Below are a few example alerts, and suggested action you (or your Retail Media agency) should take when receiving one.
PRO TIP: Set up Digital Shelf alerts so you (or your agency partner) know when to start / stop Retail Media ad spend
Your competitor goes OOS
Increase ad spend, specifically targeting your competitor’s brand terms
Your competitor’s price drops or goes on promotion
Pull back on your ad spend and reallocate it elsewhere
Your competitor’s product is getting a lot of new negative reviews
Increase ad spend and call out your brand features that are superior to those of your competitors (in banner ads, product descriptions, on PDP content, etc.)
- Set up custom alerts to monitor the activities and digital shelf health of your competitors.
- Be ready to bolster your PDP content (product title, descriptions, etc.) and invest in keyword search terms that counter the negative sentiments your competitors may be receiving in their ratings & reviews.
PRO TIP: Increase ad spend, specifically targeting your competitor’s brand terms, when your competitor goes out of stock
4. Keep tabs on your own Digital Shelf while campaigns are active
Be sure you’re keenly focused on your own Digital Shelf health to ensure you’re getting the most from your Retail Media investments, especially while your campaigns are live. The last thing you want is to go out of stock, lose the Buy Box, or have bad reviews coming in while paying for sponsored placement or running a banner.
And remember, turnabout is fair play. Keep an eye on your brand terms to ensure they’re not getting conquested by a competitor. This is especially important during big promotional events like Amazon Prime Day or Prime Big Deal Days. We saw this happen all too frequently during Amazon’s recent October event.
"Set-it-and-forget-it doesn't work in Retail Media. Brands constantly strive for unified commerce, yet a constantly changing Digital Shelf requires a 'hands-on-keyboard' approach while campaigns are active. Access to near real-time digital shelf analytics becomes pivotal, especially during big promotional events, like Prime Day or Black Friday."
—Dan St.Pierre, Vice President of Sales, North America at eSTORE
PRO TIP: Protect your brand terms because competitors won’t hesitate to conquest them
PRO TIP: Don’t waste your ad spend sponsoring products that are out of stock or running low on stock
- Set up custom alerts for all your products so you know when:
- Any content compliance issues arise
- Your product inventory is running low
- Your price unexpectedly drops
- You lose the Buy Box
- You get a new negative review
- When you get alerts like any described above, pull back on your Retail Media spend related to the products in question.
- But also watch out because competitors could try to conquest your keywords if they also see your products having problems. If you find your keywords being conquested, refocus some Retail Media spend to protect your brand terms.
5. Measure how well your Retail Media campaigns perform
While Retail Media Network activation software provides metrics such as Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and Advertising Cost of Sales (ACOS), these metrics tell only part of the story.
Most brands typically have targets and KPIs that link Digital Shelf data with Search as well. Some of these metrics, which you should be able to track and analyze on your Digital Shelf analytics platform, include:
- Share of Page 1
- Share of Top 5 results
- % Buy Box Win Rate
PRO TIP: To ensure ad spend optimization, use a Digital Shelf analytics tool to measure how your Retail Media campaigns perform against your KPIs
- Deploy a Digital Shelf tool that makes it simple for you to track your digital shelf health, and link Digital Shelf data with Search metrics.
- Share your wider Digital Shelf KPI metrics with your advertising team and agency to ensure everyone is measuring what matters.
- Be focused in your approach. Make things simple and clear for your agency partners to act upon. For example, don’t set up alerts on all products, just priority SKUs you want to focus on.
- Use Retail Media activity to improve your overall organic performance. Ask yourself: Are we moving the needle in the right direction with our media spend, or are we going backward? Your ultimate goal is to move your Digital Shelf scorecard, and sales, forward.
- Do everything you can to trim wasted media spend. It’s all about using Digital Shelf data to close the loop to understand the outcomes of what you or your media agency is doing. Providing Digital Shelf data directly to Retail Media Network providers and media agencies will make them more effective with your brand’s ad spend.
- Adjust on the fly and reallocate your ad spend with speed. Having access to daily updated Digital Shelf data for your priority SKUs across your priority retailers, and getting daily alerts when any issues arise, can set you up for success when it comes to Retail Media spend. It takes real-time analytics to support real-time decision-making.
If you'd like to discuss Retail Media opportunities further, feel free to reach out to us via LinkedIn or our contact form > Request demo
Vice President of Sales
Vice President of Sales, North America