Retail Media Roundup

Updated: Sep 13

Walmart Connect’s New Display Ad Options

WHAT: “Brand Box” is a new on-site display unit handled through Walmart Connect’s managed service that appears below the fold on Item Pages. The highly visible and sticky ad (in blue border, at right) can be secured via category takeover, contextual targeting, behavioral targeting or run of site media buys. It became available for new and in-flight campaigns on desktop and mobile in July; on mobile devices, the unit runs above the “Products you may also like” section.


Another new placement known as “Gallery” provides three prominent ad placements just below the POV section at the top of Walmart.com’s home page. Brands have the option to buy all three placements (see the example below).


RELEVANCE: Brand Box offers brands increased shopper engagement, especially since it provides a brand messaging opportunity (see example image). It also improves viewability, since the unit remains sticky as the viewer scrolls down the page. The Gallery option, meanwhile, gives brands an opportunity to obtain a prominent presence on the Walmart.com home page.

RECOMMENDATION: Brands should consider testing these new ad units as Walmart Connect continues to roll them out to gain learnings that can be applied to future campaigns and media buys. For Brand Box, consider test & learns to determine if placement can increase product cross-selling and targeting — as in the example at right, where an ad for coffee is showcased on an Item Page for milk.


Amazon Introduces the Alexa Shopping Kit

WHAT: The kit lets Alexa Skill developers embed a shopping experience into their environment that allows them to recommend products (including their own) that listeners can then buy (with the developer earning a commission).


The tool can be used to help Skill users with product discovery (recommendations and gifting ideas), research (answers to specific questions), immediate purchase (or add to cart/wish list) and future product ideas (via insights-driven recommendations) — all through voice activation.


Relevance: More than 20% of all Alexa interactions in 2021 involved consumers engaging with one of the 100,000-plus Skills that are available, making this a potentially important vehicle for consumer interaction.


Recommendation: Consumers will now be able to ask Alexa more shopping-focused questions about products — like “What are the Amazon reviews?” or “How much does it cost?” This makes it even more critical for brands to invest in all components of the digital shelf so that Alexa will have the right answers.


Uber to Enhance Media Capabilities

WHAT: Uber will up its retail media game later this year by offering enhanced retailer-specific display ads and expanded media capabilities to its digital properties.


RELEVANCE: Uber is expanding aggressively into the retail media space and will roll out even more engaging content by adding brand videos and homepage banner ads that are clickable to retailer-specific landing pages. Uber’s goal is not only to provide more robust offerings for brands, but also to drive purchase intent by improving the shopper experience.


RECOMMENDATION: On-demand delivery providers are the newest retail “channel” and ripe for shopper engagement: Uber has ride-share data on 56 million active monthly platform users. A test & learn — maybe with Uber’s highly targetable Mobility Ads — would be a great way to get started.


Walgreens Taps Criteo for Onsite Display

WHAT: The still-young Walgreens Advertising Group (WAG) is enhancing its capabilities through a deal with longtime media network operator Criteo that is expected to improve back-end programming and expand on-site advertising opportunities.

RELEVANCE: Since launching in December 2020, Walgreens has employed a less-than-ideal setup for banner ad displays that required all keywords and placements to be implemented manually. Criteo’s algorithm-driven tool can leverage item setup and customer shopper behaviors to make real-time decisions on where and when ads should be placed.


RECOMMENDATION: Handing Criteo the reins should open up more ad inventory (such as banner ads within product-listing results) on Walgreens.com. The change may also lead to increased costs for some vendors, though, since the switch means WAG will move away from the flat-fee model it previously used to the more common CPM (cost per thousand) model employed by other networks.


Kroger Partners with Pacvue

WHAT: Kroger Precision Marketing (KPM), Kroger’s retail media operation, has partnered with Pacvue to offer an enterprise software suite for advertisers that includes programmatic bidding, automation and analytics features. Brands can use the suite to monitor campaign performance indicators including ROAS (return on ad sales), CPC (cost-per-click), and product-level insights on paid and organic search visibility. The suite’s features also include AI-based automated optimization tools that adjust when and where ads are placed.


RELEVANCE: This new offering is just one of Kroger’s many recent efforts to strengthen its retail media presence and offer marketers greater value as the competition among networks continues to heat up.

RECOMMENDATION: With 9 million daily shoppers and 2.8 billion annual visits from 60 million U.S. households, Kroger has an audience scale that makes advertising across its store banners critical for CPG brands. Gaining greater transparency into program impact through the new tools will give CPGs greater control over future program performance.


The Mars Agency’s Customer Development practice is an unrivaled team of in-market commerce experts who simplify the complexity of retail. Located in Bentonville, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Chicago, Tampa and the “backyards” of other key retailers, they provide deep knowledge of the retailer, expertise in key business areas (like strategy, media and creative), and door-opening personal relationships with key executives to deliver an unmatched level of business success for clients across accounts, channels and shopper engagement platforms. For more information, contact Group SVP Kandi Arrington at [email protected].