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How to build scalable retail advertising operations?

Jun 13 2022 , Silvan Peter

Build a comprehensive strategy with the customer in mind

The advertising industry is very competitive and with new players coming into the market the retail media platforms should clearly define their operational measures and address the challenges in terms of scalability, technology integration, and the ability to close the loop with an end-to-end strategy. Retail media networks should start by adopting the right data infrastructure and technology integration strategy and parallelly focus on improving the operational efficiency w.r.t self-service, managed services, and first-party & third-party analytics. Above all, these strategies should well meet the expectations of the customers who shop online, so the underline fact of delivering the best customer and shopping experience is a key element. 

The influence of programmatic ads in retail media networks:
Programmatic ads heavily rely on customizable big data, personalized targeting, campaign optimization, and attribution. Building an in-house platform with the best serving programmatic ad capabilities is expensive and time-consuming. The idle way to deal with this problem is to join hands with ad tech partners or vendors who can either build this from scratch or tweak an existing CMS-based retail media platform to suit your needs. Some of the key capabilities to look out for in a programmatic ad platform are, 

  • Media buying and planning
  • Audience segmentation with first-party data
  • Targeting & Re-targeting 
  • Campaign set up – creatives and content creation 
  • Creative trafficking
  • Campaign / Bid Optimization
  • Inventory Management
  • Website Whitelisting 
  • Deal ID Management/Blacklisting

Brand safety and Brand suitability:
Brand safety’s bedrock is ‘brand suitability’. Brand suitability empowers marketers to block with greater accuracy and control. It identifies suitable environments for advertising based on insights from market research, strategic positioning, and brand profiles.  

Brand suitability works with analyzing and comprehending the actual context of a page’s content including the nuances. It uses cognitive intelligence to understand the contextual concept of the data presented and is not limited to just the URL strings and keywords. 

Brand suitability minimizes the risk factor of brands by offering them opportunities – context-based protections to avail relevant, appropriate, secured, and brand-building inventory. 

Brand suitability strategies
The three strategies of brand suitability are applicable to advertisers, agencies, and publishers. 

1. Legacy protection

  • Currently, this strategy is widely adopted by digital advertisers to block inventory by using domain- and keyword- level block listing as well as targeting. 
  • Disadvantages are 1. Not well protected 2. High-quality and relevant content may be blocked 3. Scalability isn’t easy

2. Baseline protection
Considered a proactive method that involves identifying and restricting fake impressions as well as deploying pre-bid solutions to block content and ad spaces

3. Brand suitability
Advertisers design and deploy a tailored approach to obtain safety and suitability. You control your customized methodology to meet your strategic goal of targeting and avoidance.

End-to-end self-service platforms:

While the above-mentioned qualities are the key ingredients of an ad operations partner in scaling self-service models, some of the other aspects that will help retailers to achieve their advertising goals of reaching the target audience and having the maximum ROAS are technology integration and customization. These help advertisers to pick the demographics and content for contextual ad display ensuring campaign effectiveness and profitability. Apart from Amazon advertising, most of the retail media networks still run on a managed services model focusing their efforts on setting up campaigns, optimizing placements and pulling reports, etc. 

Other factors affecting ad operations efficiency:
Content and creatives management:
Templates and catalogs for content and creatives should be a part of the retail media networks which can help new advertisers easily choose content samples and creatives that have worked well in the past. Knowledge base with frequently asked questions and best practices are important aspects of an elite retail media network. Dynamic Creative Optimization utilizes Machine learning (ML) to track user engagement behavior and allows retailers to optimize ads in real-time. It leverages the option to deliver several high-impact ad variations across various channels without any manual intervention. These automated personalized ads are a step ahead to boost advertising in retail media.

Ad operations team: The ad operations team must have expertise in digital marketing, advertising, content creation, and creative designing. The team should be able to sense the activities relevant to branding and lead generation and what kind of campaign planning and optimization will bring the desired results to the advertisers on various retail media networks. Networks like Amazon advertising and Walmart connect cover a wide range of audiences whereas networks like Ulta have a niche segment focusing only on the beauty segment. The team involved in the project should be able to use their marketing skills and sense to efficiently target their market segment. 

Availability: A 24/7 support covering EMEA, APAC, and North American regions/locales with both onshore and offshore flexibility will be the ideal partner to work with. A country like India where there are many business administration and marketing graduates (BBA and MBA) who are certified in digital marketing, content marketing, graphic designing, and visual designing can offer the right mix of expertise to deliver ad operations solutions. 

Automation: Though automation has become an integral part of the ad ops industry, only a few ad tech partners can deliver an end-to-end solution meeting the goals of maximizing the return on ad spending. RPA and ML/AI play a huge role in ad ops automation, especially in managing media, traffic, and creating assets. Liberating ad ops by integration automation will provide insights into how various ad ops processes can be automated. 

Listed below are business benefits of deploying retail automation strategies:

Minimize cost: Retail-margin pressure is reduced as most of the advertising operations are automated allowing retailers to reinvest effectively for future enhancements.

Target potential customers using search data: Displaying targeted ads on websites and applications on the user’s device while they search for a product. Sending push notifications, emails, or texts with promotions and suitable offers to engage users throughout the purchase journey.

End-to-end automated operations: Automated advertising campaigns send different versions of personalized ads based on customer behavior without the need for manual labor. 

24/7 self-service support: Self-service campaigns (one-stop-shop online solution) automate ads to reach the target audience based on the preferred locations, at a preferred time, and allow them to purchase and make pre-payments online.  

Analytics: Some of the biggest challenges associated with ad operations are revenue leakages, wasted spending, inappropriate targeting, and attribution tracking. While running large ad campaigns, the situation becomes still worse, hence it is important to have the right tools & technology (tableau, datorama, looker, etc.) integration and an effective analytics team that can gather the right data, analyze it and gains insights to optimize ads to avoid leakages and improve the return on ad spends. Some of the key metrics are, 

  • Inventory report 
  • Revenue report
  • 3rd Party discrepancy report
  • Measurement Tag report validation
  • Billing and Reconciliation

Conclusion:
A team that can provide a one-stop solution for creatives to cash operations and manage the end-to-end processes involved in ad operations can provide the right balance between branding and sales. The team should be able to operate at scale meeting the seasonal demands with 24/7 availability with digital marketing and analytical skills. Technology integration and automation will provide a competitive advantage in the growing retail-media space so-called the “Retail Apocalypse”. 

Source - *merkleinc - The Evolution of E-Retail research report 

Self-service advertising operations are comparatively better than managed services as the advertisers can have a complete picture of the campaign, spend, and analytics and optimize according to the branding and conversion goals. iOPEX’s Digital Studio Services (DSS) deploys more than 600 digital advertising experts to provide ad and creative solutions to some of the retail giants in the US, talk to us to understand how we have scaled, optimized, and automated ad ops to our esteemed partners. Reach us here at solutions@iopex.com or contact us

Read other blogs from the series

Blog 1: Retail media networks redefining online advertising spend

Blog 2: Developing trends in retail media network

Blog 3: What should retail media networks consider as key factors for success?

Blog 4: What should Brands look for in Retail Media & Service Platforms?


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