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Why Scotts Miracle-Gro is pursuing more retail media from retailers like The Home Depot amid the crumbling cookie

Retail media has long since been a key element of Scott’s media mix, according to Morgan Millard, director of omnichannel strategy and planning for Scotts Miracle-Gro. But as the fallout from Google’s third-party cookie continues, the company is relying more on its retail partners, like The Home Depot’s Orange Apron Media (formerly Retail Media+) to leverage their first-party data.

“I would say it represents around 40% of our total enterprise media budget. It continues to get bigger and bigger every year because of just the importance and that closed loop attribution that we can get,” Millard said, without specifying a dollar amount.

Back in March, Digiday sat down with Millard and Taryn Dominie, director of partner management at Orange Apron Media, at The Home Depot’s inaugural InFronts to learn more about the partnership. At the event, Home Depot announced a rebrand and new ad products, piquing the interest of advertisers like Millard, who are increasingly looking for brand building opportunities in the retail media space. 

Scotts was an early adopter of retail media, partnering with Home Depot in its testing phase of its retail media network before it officially launched in 2020. In its retail media spend strategy, Scotts has honed in on conversion tactics like search and on-site retail media, but has since factored in more brand awareness, like streaming ads, per Millard. 

“It is exciting to hear that Home Depot is going to be offering in-store retail media opportunities,” she said. “Other retail media networks are doing the same thing. It really is kind of the next progression of retail media.”

Notably, it has gotten more difficult for marketers to stand out in a crowded digital marketplace, making off-site advertising, like streaming ads via Home Depot’s new partnership with Univision’s streaming service, and the recently launched in-store signage, increasingly important. In fact, one of Home Depot’s key differentiating factors is its off-site offering, according to agency executives.

“As we build out capabilities, [we’re] really focusing on building out both upper funnel as well as a mid-and-lower funnel, so we can find that customer and connect to them in the right place at the right time throughout the entire journey,” said Dominie.

At the InFronts, Ted Decker, chair, president and CEO of The Home Depot, said the company was positioning itself to scoop up more marketing dollars as opposed to trade dollars, or spend dedicated to supply chain partners.

It could be a strategic play if things continue to go the way that advertising experts suspect it will. 

“Connected TV and retail media are the fastest growing, hottest segments within media growth overall. It’s a sign of the arrival of this channel, the maturity of this channel,” said Chris Shewmake, the vp of communications strategy and media at Cactus ad agency. Meaning, as retail marketing grows up, maturing in capabilities beyond sales and conversions to brand awareness and building, retail media networks will be vying for dollars from a broader budgeting spectrum.

The Home Depot has already positioned itself as a top contender in the retail media space thanks to its unique audience data and off-site capabilities, per agency executives. But the retailer isn’t resting on its laurels just yet. Seemingly, the home improvement company is starting to tee up a clean room partnership with Scotts, per Millard.

“For us, cookies going away means needing to lean on our retail partners more than ever as it relates to leveraging their first-party data,” she said. “We’ve even gone down the path of: What does a clean room partnership look like to share some of that data and get those insights?” Per Millard, Scotts is in discussion with Home Depot at present. She did not provide further details.

According to eMarketer, retail media is expected to make up one-fifth of the world’s digital ad spend this year, reaching more than $140 billion. By offering everything from conversion channels to brand building options, The Home Depot seems to be positioning itself to hoover up its fair share of ad dollars.

“As the number one home improvement retailer, where we want to position ourselves is a specialty retail media network in the space because we are different than other retailers out there,” Dominie said. “Ideally in vision state, we want to help connect those dots so that they can understand how everything is coming together to drive their business goals.”

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