In 1990 Asda launched their retail media offering comprising Asda FM (their instore radio station), Asda Magazine and various other ways of communicating to their shoppers.
As P&G’s Sales Director for Asda this felt like exciting times. It seemed like a no brainer that these media supported by closed loop daily epos data would be highly effective and highly measurable.
A chance to divert some of P&G’s huge ad spend towards Asda shoppers, an opportunity to develop marketing skills and surely a fast track to general management given that 90% of P&G General Managers had advertising and media experience.
So imagine my surprise when the P&G media experts recommended not to proceed. The official line was that “free media” was ineffective.
But the real reason was political.
The sales department controlled ”trade spend” and the brand teams controlled “media”. There was no appetite at all to divert “media spend” into “trade spend”.
As a sop to the aspirations of the Sales guys (they mostly were chaps in those days) to become marketeers, we created a new term and called it “shopper marketing”. But there was no rush from the brands or their agency partners to become “shopper marketeers”.
In 2001 I was hired by Tesco and dunnhumby to monetise Clubcard data. It seemed obvious to me that Tesco’s gigantic Clubcard database would not only provide rich insights into shopping habits unmatchable by any other data set but we would be able to overlay a wide range of media to enable brands to generate trial and repeat purchases. This worked very well and the model was exported first to the USA with Kroger and then around the world.
We started selling highly targeted coupons and pioneered what is now called “collaborative crm” and later added other media including trolley advertising and Tesco TV.
We approached Ebiquity (when it was called Thomson Intermedia), Carat, Group M and other media agencies since we knew we could show definitively which adverts had the highest impact. But they didn’t really engage. Tesco Media was seen by some as “shopper marketing” a B team activity and not one for the A stream advertisers.
Fast forward 20 years and the A team have started to get it. Or rather we should say their computers have got it. Surprise surprise, showing ads to shoppers when they are doing their shopping is highly effective and so the agency algorithms are increasingly prioritising retail media. Jeff Bezos worked this out some time ago and now generates $32bn in ad income. Wal-Mart have created “Wal-Mart Connect” and other retailers are following suit. Goldman Sachs are predicting a bonanza for those retailers able to offer targeted ads backed up by first party data.
And so now the A team are coming after “Shopper Media” and a new golden age of “Retail Media” is beckoning.
Will “Retail Media” eat “Shopper Marketing” ?
Follow the data. Follow the money. And manage the politics !