What is a Retail Media Network?

What is a Retail Media Network?

The marketing and advertising industry is a fast-paced industry.

With technology evolving rapidly, people have found it more convenient to do their shopping and other transactions online.

With digital interactions overtaking in-person activities, this shift in people’s lifestyles means one thing for businesses — they need to pivot fast. Failure to do so can only lead to losing customers.

Enter retail media networks.

What is a Retail Media Network?

With more and more people shopping online, retail media just makes sense.

But what exactly is a retail media network?

A retail media network is when retailers set up an advertising platform on their website, app, or other digital platforms within their network. This allows the store, and other brands, to advertise to customers on sites like CVS or Walgreens. It’s a form of in-store advertising in a digital format.

Here’s an example from CVS’s homepage. Notice the “sponsored” tag in the bottom right corner — this isn’t just a product listing; it’s an ad from a face mask company right on CVS’s website.

Ads on retail media networks can be displayed on many pages, including:

  • The home page
  • Category page
  • Search page
  • Product detail page

This enables advertisers to reach shoppers at the various stages of their buyer journey.

The reason retail media works so well is that shoppers are more receptive to ads when shopping than when they’re carrying out other non-shopping related activities.

Pros and Cons of Retail Media

Retail media is changing the way shoppers and brands interact. But is this new form of advertising and marketing a good thing or not?

Well, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of retail media and find out.

Pros of Retail Media

We’ll start by looking at the advantages of retail media and breaking them down according to the players involved.

For Retailers

The most significant advantage of retail media for retailers is that it creates a new revenue stream. Advertising is big business, and a retail media network enables retailers to tap into this $560 billion industry.

Profit margins on consumer packaged goods (CPG) have taken a tumble in the past few years. The revenue generated by retail media has been a lifeline for retailers looking to boost their profits.

Retailers that leverage retail media have become the new media moguls, thanks to the rise of e-commerce. This has opened up a new world of possibilities in how they can generate revenue.

For Consumers

Shoppers also benefit from retail media in a few ways.

The first benefit is it offers better price control for customers. With retailers generating revenue from ads, they won’t be as quick to raise their prices. An increase in pricing could result in a drop in traffic, spiraling into reduced ad revenue.

Secondly, retail media benefits shoppers by offering a better customer experience (CX). Sure, ads can be annoying. But if done well, they can help shoppers make better purchase decisions. They can also remind shoppers about related products they may want.

For Advertisers

One of the biggest advantages of retail media for advertisers is that it gives them access to first-party data.

First-party data is data collected and owned by the website owner, and in this case, that’s the retailer. It’s clean and more reliable than third-party data collected by other methods such as cookies.

The best part of first-party data is that it’s collected right at the point of sale, giving you better insight into buyer behavior.

Why is this so important?

One word: personalization.

Personalization plays a huge role in designing and executing ad campaigns that convert. To do this, you need accurate data.

Another reason first-party data has become so valuable is because of the impending death of cookies.

For Brands

For brands that advertise on retail media networks, the most significant advantage is that it’s easier to tie ad spend to sales. Because sales happen closer to the ads, it’s easier to attribute a sale to a specific ad and action. This is crucial to strategic decisions such as resource allocation.

Another advantage for brands is that these ads increase visibility, which helps drive sales.

Even though it’s still in its infancy, retail media is already proving to be a powerful form of advertising set to change the future of online shopping experiences.

Cons of Retail Media

With retail media looking so good, could it have any disadvantages?

One of the biggest disadvantages of retail media is that it gives more power to brands that are already big. It creates an uneven playing field for smaller brands that don’t have the traffic, budget, and infrastructure to set up retail media networks of their own.

Another disadvantage of retail media is that it’s a new field that requires infrastructure that most retailers don’t have. Because of that, it’s a learning curve for all the parties involved.

The Rise of Retail Media: Explained

Many brands had already jumped on the digital transformation bandwagon before retail media networks came on the field. They invested in mobile apps where customers could shop for products and get delivery right to their homes.

When the pandemic hit, these websites and apps became instrumental in generating sales for retailers. Research shows that 80% of people are now doing over half of their shopping online. The same study reveals that 60% of respondents said they’d continue shopping online even after the pandemic.

What does this have to do with retail media networks?

Everything.

This shift in traffic to retailer websites and apps birthed a new form of advertising.

That new form of advertising comes in the form of retailer media networks.

In short, this means brands advertising on retailers’ websites and apps. These can be brands that sell directly on the store or brands that want to reach that store’s audience.

Leveraging already warm traffic to create retail media networks is powerful. That’s because these networks benefit everyone involved, from the retailer to the brands advertising to the shoppers.

Brands with Retail Media Networks

Interested to know which brands have their own retail media networks and how they do it?

Let’s look at three brands that caught the shift early and are seeing great results with their retail media.

CVS

Originally known as the Consumer Value Store, CVS has become a force to reckon with on the American retail scene.

CVS is one of the first brands to launch its own retail media network, dubbed the CVS Media Exchange (CMX).

CMX allows brands to place their products on channels informed by CV’s first data. This includes off-site as well as on-site targeted ads. When it comes to customer data, CVS has the edge over most retail ad networks, thanks to their:

  • Close to 10,000 locations nationwide
  • Decades of consumer data through their loyalty programs
  • High-traffic online platforms

With this huge data bank at their disposal, advertisers are better equipped to create personalized ads and place them strategically for optimum visibility.

Walgreens

Walgreens is not green behind the ears when it comes to executing digital ad campaigns for other brands.

So it’s no surprise that Walgreens has decided to formalize things and launch a retail media network called Walgreens Advertising Group (Wag).

Wag offers ad placement on their online store, in their brick-and-mortar stores, as well as on other digital platforms such as social media and Google.

Amazon

Retail and e-commerce giant Amazon is another brand that has mastered retail media and runs its own network.

It’s called Amazon Advertising.

Thanks to its massive digital footprint, Amazon can offer brands more in terms of the kind of campaigns they want to run. It also gives them access to one of the world’s largest customer data banks as well as a massive audience (over 200 million in the U.S alone).

Amazon Advertising works much like Google Ads. Brands that want to be found have to bid for keywords and pay each time their ad is clicked.

Retail Media Advertisers

Since most retailers don’t have the infrastructure and know-how to run retail media networks, how do they pull it off?

Most of them get external help. Here are some of the top retail media advertisers who are powering the retail media movement:

Criteo

Criteo is one of the leading retail media advertising platforms around. They make it easy for media buyers to purchase retail media with ease, thanks to their end-to-end service platform.

The platform gives brands and retailers full control of their campaigns and easy access to data and analytics. Robust APIs also allow you to use your marketing tool of choice.

One thing Criteo boasts of is its transparent platform. For retailers, this makes it easier to grow their retail media network, while brands have more flexibility when it comes to choosing the retailers they want to partner with.

Promote IQ

Another retail media advertiser that enables brands to advertise their products on retailers’ websites is Promote IQ.

Acquired by Microsoft in 2019, Promote IQ gives retailers full control of the end-user experience. This helps make the retail media seamlessly blend in with the retailer’s website.

Promote IQ claims they can help retailers generate 5X their revenue by cutting out the middleman and working directly with brands through their platform. Promote IQ also provides automation capabilities to streamline and increase your campaigns’ effectiveness.

Brands get more visibility and higher conversions thanks to Promote IQ’s powerful data and analytics platform. This helps create hyper-targeted ads that resonate with shoppers, driving up conversions.

Elevaate

Another advertiser shaking up the retail media world is Elevaate.

Elevaate understands the hassle retailers face setting up a retail media network. That’s why they designed a platform that’s as easy to set up as it is effective in generating revenue. With Elevaate, retailers can maximize their digital real estate profits without compromising their shoppers’ experience.

Elevaate promises increased visibility and high return on ad spend (ROAS) by offering precise targeting.

How to Create a Retail Media Network for Your Brand

So how can you create a retail media network to boost sales for your brand? If your brand has a large amount of traffic, consider using one of the tools above, like Criteo or Elevaate.

After all, they have the infrastructure in place to help your retail network up and running quickly. Which means you’ll have more time to spend on your business.

With most of them, the process is as simple as applying to join their program. Once approved, you upload your product feed, and the ad network does the rest.

Conclusion

The world is changing rapidly.

For businesses to succeed in the future, they need to adapt to the changing landscape and buyer behavior.

This is why you must consider the retail media bandwagon if you haven’t yet — either by creating your own or advertising on major sites like CVS and Walgreens.

Not only will it give you an edge over the competition, but it will help you tap into audiences you can’t reach on your own. It will also help you maximize your marketing budget, ensuring you get the best ROAS.

Have you used retail media for your brand? What was your experience like?

Top Social Media Tools You Need to Use in 2021

Top Social Media Tools You Need to Use in 2021

You already know how important social media is to increase brand awareness, generate more leads, and ultimately score more conversions.

The world is on social media — 50% of it, at least — so if you want your product, service, and mission to reach the maximum amount of people, your business needs to be on social media, too.

However, social media can be extremely time-consuming. It also spans so many diverse tasks, ranging from data-based activities like tracking analytics, to creative jobs such as designing graphics.

Download Now: Free Social Media Calendar

It can be difficult to find the skills and manpower needed to execute a good social media strategy — which is why you need social media tools to help you out.

Below, we’ll cover the top social media tools you should be using in 2021 to help you save time and increase conversions.

What makes for a good social media tool?

Although the term “social media tool” is very general and can apply to a wide range of services, there are a few key features that your top social media tools should have.

It saves you time.

The goal of a social media tool is to save you time while getting similar — or better — results than you could without it. Look for social media tools that automate a process, but make sure the process still happens correctly, since some shortcuts might be too fast and therefore won’t focus on quality.

It helps you increase brand awareness.

One of the biggest benefits of social media is its ability to increase your brand awareness, which is why each social media tool you select should perform its services with brand awareness in mind.

Maybe your tool of choice is an editing platform such as Lightroom, which can help you create images to match the rest of your feed. Or, maybe it’s an Instagram scheduler like Later so you can preview your profile before you post images. Whatever the case may be, social media tools should focus largely on brand awareness.

It’s easy to use.

Social media tools are only a time-saver if they’re easy and intuitive. Each tool you select should be super user-friendly so that, if needed, your accounting team could edit photos and your creative, right-brained writers could still use the analytics function to track daily social metrics.

Many social media tools provide tutorials on their websites. Others, such as Kicksta, have top-notch customer service so you can get immediate expert advice if you need help getting off the ground.

It’s affordable.

Social media tools should be affordable (and most of them are). Many high-quality social media tools are even free, such as the Unfold app, which is perfect for creating Instagram stories.

With social media tools, there’s no need for you to go back and forth with the accounting department trying to get your budget approved. Most social media tools are already budget-friendly so all you need to do is sign up.

It keeps you organized.

One of the ways social media tools save you time is by keeping you organized, so make sure the social media tools you decide to use are efficient and tidy.

For example, HubSpot’s Social Inbox tool helps you prioritize your social media interactions, and graphic design website Canva saves your designs so you can go back and edit them later.

1. HubSpot’s Social Inbox Tool

Price: Starts at $800/month, included in the Marketing Hub Professional tier

HubSpot’s Social Inbox tool saves you valuable time while still optimizing your social efforts. Schedule your posts, integrate your social networks with your blog, and monitor messages and mentions so you can nurture new leads.

HubSpot also integrates all of your marketing with your CRM, so it’s easy to figure out how many leads and customers you’re receiving directly from social media. “HubSpot Marketing Hub … puts the potential of corporate marketing within everyone’s reach,” one customer says.

top social media tools hubspot social inbox

2. Kicksta

Price: Starts at $49/month for individual creatives

Kicksta is an Instagram growth service that helps you get more organic followers on your Instagram business account. Using your company account, the growth service “likes” around 30,000 photos a month on carefully-targeted accounts. Those users — real people, not spam bots or fake accounts — will begin to follow your account, increasing your brand awareness.

Kicksta is a good fit for any industry and provides a friendly, responsive, and helpful customer success team. “Kicksta helps introduce new audiences to our brand while providing consistent organic Instagram growth,” says Ryan Beltran, CEO of watch company Original Grain. “It’s great for social proof too!”

top social media tools kicksta

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3. Lightroom

Price: Starts at $9.99/month

Adobe’s Lightroom product is a tool that lets you organize and edit photos. Since social media is all about visuals, it’s critical your business’s social media accounts showcase vibrant, on-brand photos.

Sliders, filters, and many other features make Lightroom a user-friendly tool to create beautiful photos even if you don’t have much editing experience. Lightroom is available for both mobile and desktop, and best of all, changes made on one device immediately apply to all devices.

top social media tools lightroom

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4. Canva

Price: Free, or starts at $9.95/month

Canva is an easy-to-use graphic design website where you can create custom, on-brand graphics for your company’s social media accounts. The website has dozens of templates — everything from Facebook banners to Instagram stories to Twitter posts — so if starting from scratch to create social graphics seems intimidating, use a template instead.

One user said, “Canva has been a lifesaver to me and my business. No more hours sitting in front of the computer coming up with graphics for social media post[s] or Pinterest post[s].”

top social media tools canva

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5. Unfold

Price: Free

Described as “a toolkit for storytellers”, Unfold is an iOS and Android app that helps you create beautiful templates for Instagram stories. Bringing your creative visions to life is the driving idea behind Unfold.

It’s an ideal app for lifestyle brands who want to create stylish collages to keep their social media accounts on-brand and receive the maximum amount of engagement from followers.

top social media tools unfold

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6. HypeAuditor

Price: Starts at $200/month for 50 reports

You’ll never earn money from fake followers — they just make your engagement look bad (think millions of followers, but only a few hundred likes per photo) and ruin your reputation. That’s why HypeAuditor weeds out fake followers on your Instagram account to help you determine your organic reach.

Additionally, HypeAuditor analyzes your audience to figure out where they live, their age and gender, and which of your followers are ghosts.

top social media tools hypeauditor

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7. Retouchup

Price: Starts at $0.25 per image

The website Retouchup provides an easy way to edit photos for social media, from basic color correction to more advanced Photoshop-like features such as adding or removing people from a photo. With Retouchup, you don’t do the work yourself — instead, just submit a photo and the website’s experts will edit the photo for you within 24 hours.

“You’re making me look like an awesome photographer!” one user gushed. Retouchup can save you time during the editing stage, and make your images appear higher-quality and more compelling.

top social media tools retouchup

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8. Marketing Video Builder

Price: Free, or starts at $33/month.

Marketing Video Builder by Animoto helps you make professional-tier videos to engage with audiences. Videos can be created in minutes using the online video editor. The best part about the tool is that you don’t even need editing experience to get started.

You can increase brand awareness by making videos for your company, and share them across social channels to grow your audience. Additionally, if you’re a HubSpot customer, you can integrate that account with your Animoto account.

top social media tools marketing video builder

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When you create videos, you can use a pre-built storyboard template curated by either Animoto or HubSpot. Alternatively, you can make a video from scratch. When you’re done, you can export the video to your HubSpot file manager with one click and manage it from there.

Animoto also integrates with Getty Images, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn, so you can have video tools for a good portion of social media platforms all in one place.

In addition to the HubSpot Social Inbox Tool, which is helpful while planning and executing campaigns, these social media campaign tools are also helpful to add to your tool belt.

1. Falcon

Price: $129/mo.

Falcon is a social media management platform that allows you to create posts for social networks on a collaborative content calendar.

It integrates with HubSpot, Microsoft, and Salesforce to help users streamline marketing tasks among teams. For a visual to see how Falcon integrates with other software, refer to the photo below:

top social media tools falcon

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HubSpot customers can use this integration to create audience segments. These segmentations will help you target your customers with social media posts, making sure your content is being seen by the right people. Any changes you make within HubSpot will automatically transfer to Falcon, so you don’t have to worry about manually updating content.

2. Quuu

Price: Free, or starts at $19/month.

Quuu is a platform that helps its users execute visually stunning social media content. It automates the time-consuming process of properly creating professional, engaging multimedia assets for campaigns.

When using Quuu, you can choose from over 500 interest categories, like marketing or real estate, and receive content suggestions based on those choices. You’ll receive a certain amount of content suggestions per day per profile based on your settings, ensuring you’ll always have relevant posts for your audience.

top social media tools quuu

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If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can integrate the two platforms. Quuu finds the best content for your social profiles, and HubSpot lets you control those suggestions. You can go to your draft folder via HubSpot and pick which content you want to upload if your Quuu account isn’t automated, which you can change.

Quuu looks for content so you don’t have to. The tool also integrates with Buffer, Hootsuite, and Socialbee.

3. Later

Price: Free, or starts at $7.50/month

Social media marketing platform Later lets you plan and schedule your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest posts. The drag-and-drop calendar makes it easy for you to map out your upcoming posts and see at a glance how your feed will look.

You can also track your analytics, which will help you figure out the best time of day to post, and the best hashtags to use. Additionally, the Linkin.Bio feature for Instagram helps your posts become instantly shoppable.

“I love that you can either use it via the website or app on-the-go,” one user remarks. “It is one of those apps that I could not live without … Later is [a] super easy tool to set up.”

top social media tools later

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There are numerous choices out there for high-quality social media tools. Ultimately, it’s your job to decide which tool is the best fit for your needs, your budget, your campaigns, and your marketing goals.

4. Design Wizard

Price: Free, or starts at $9.99/month

This tool lets you create different types of content, like photos and videos, with no professional editing experience required. If you have a limited budget and time on your hands, this free visual content tool is ideal for you.

Design Wizard has a library of over a million multimedia graphics for inspiration and use. Plus, all images are licensed for commercial use, so if you use one from the site, you won’t run into copyright infringements.

top social media tools design wizard

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Over to You

Your beautiful, on-brand images will be able to integrate with HubSpot. You can manage all of the files you create with Design Wizard from your HubSpot account, which you can use for campaign posts.

Need a painless way to track your social interactions? Try HubSpot’s social inbox tool today.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

social media content calendar

Top Social Media Updates You Need to Know: December 2020

Top Social Media Updates You Need to Know: December 2020

‘Tis the season for holiday campaigns and 2021 preparation. We’ve seen a lot of new changes and adaptations this year for brands and retailers in the digital space from curbside pickup and BOPIS (Buy Online Pick Up In-Store) to improved delivery services. Luckily, social media platforms are still releasing new updates to help businesses continue to navigate this time. From Twitter’s new Carousel ad option to Instagram’s keyword search capabilities and shopping on WhatsApp, here are the top social media updates this December. Happy holidays!


Social Media Updates

Instagram

Instagram Adds Shopping Tags to Reels

If you’re looking to generate another stream of income as a creator, you can now add Reels to the list. Businesses and creators can now tag products when they create Reels, enabling creators to add product listings to their clips.

The new feature will also allow creators to add Branded Content Tags for both Reels and Instagram Live in an effort to increase transparency on the platform. With new tags, creators can formulate more deals with brands and make money directly from their Reels content.

Instagram Adds Keyword Search

Great news for all social media managers and search enthusiasts: Instagram will now allow users to search for specific keywords. Previously, searching for a keyword on Instagram yielded results under the Usernames, Locations and Hashtags channels. Now, you can tap on specific search terms and Instagram will populate the posts for those exact words instead of just finding posts through hashtags. This way, you can include some of your keywords in the caption itself to maximize your visibility and Instagram performance.

Instagram Social media updates in December

However, not every word can be searchable. According to Instagram, keyword searches will be “limited to general interest topics and keywords that are within Instagram’s community guidelines”. So, some niche keywords and topics could be unsearchable for now. Instagram will also rank its keyword search results based on the following factors: type of content, captions, when it was posted and more. The social media platform will also highlight the most relevant matches to each user, based on the algorithm.


WhatsApp

WhatsApp Adds ‘Carts’ to its Shopping Experience

Whatsapp is no longer a stranger to eCommerce with their recent business features in place. Now, the messaging platform will continue to make it easier for users to buy items with their latest addition: Carts. This feature will enable WhatsApp users to add items as they engage with a business, then submit a larger order all at once via the app.

WhatsApp Social media updates in December

As explained by WhatsApp, “with carts, people can browse a catalog, select multiple products and send the order as one message to the business.” Carts will make it easier for businesses to keep track of order inquiries, manage requests from customers and close sales.


Facebook

Facebook Adds ‘Vanish Mode’ in Instagram and Messenger

According to Facebook, some things are just not meant to last. Instagram and Facebook’s Messenger have now activated disappearing messages on their platform, which vanish after they’ve been seen by the recipient or when the sender leaves the chat.

Questions were raised in terms of the safety of this feature, considering the disappearance of offensive messages and the uprise of online bullying in general. However, safety continues to be an important measure here. If someone takes a screenshot while in Vanish Mode, both users will be notified with a message in the thread. Facebook also supports blocking and reporting in Vanish Mode which allows Facebook to review and the conversation and take action.

To turn on Vanish Mode, users can swipe up on the chat then swipe up again to turn it off. As a part of that update, Instagram also received many Messenger-inspired additions — like the ability to change the chat color or react with any emoji. The addition of vanish mode gives Facebook a competitive edge over Snapchat whose default setting is based on disappearing messages.


Twitter

New Carousel Ad Format Option

Twitter’s newest ad format option is here: Carousels. Now, marketers can add up to six images or videos in an ad.

Carousel ads have seen much success on other social platforms with Sprout Social reporting that Carousel ads on Facebook and Instagram drive 10 times more web traffic for businesses than single-image ads. Another Facebook study reports that Carousel ads drive 72% higher click-through rate than single images.

In testing their version of carousel ads, Twitter shared that App carousel ads “boosted installs per impression an average of 24% compared with single-asset formats, while website carousel ads boosted the average clickthrough rate (CTR) about 15%, Twitter found in its testing of the carousel format.”

Carousels are now available globally. Marketers can create these ads in their Ads Manager or through the API.


Quick Recap (Social Media Updates):

  • Instagram: Instagram Adds Shopping Tags to Reels, Keyword Search to Profiles and Tags
  • WhatsApp: WhatsApp Adds ‘Carts’ to its Shopping Experience
  • Facebook: Facebook Adds ‘Vanish Mode’ in Instagram and Messenger
  • Twitter: New Carousel Ad Format Option

Tune in next month for another round of social media updates!


By Hiba Traboulsi