Happy New Year! Very interesting piece by Christopher Vollmer in Strategy & Business, Major Media in the Shopping Aisle. Since my background spans retailing (offline at Walgreen’s) and online media (agency, media and ad server software side) this caught my eye while browsing in Borders last night on Michigan Avenue.
However, S&B did not dig very deep! They totally missed the nascent Retail Online Media programs out there for a few years now and continuing to grow. Such promotion and merchandising act as the front-line tactic for achieving retail sales. I had the opportunity to learn this up close and personal while I was in store operations with Walgreen’s early in my career…it is also probably why I chose to focus on marketing while attending Loyola’s GSB.
On the other hand, it’s understandable and not likely that Walmart.com, Sam’s Club and CVS others are looking for trade coverage while they work out the kinks in these very high-margin (advertising) programs. These programs are akin to store circulars and local co-op ads (think Intel isnide or auto delership ads) but online; they are methodically bringing a brand message to targeted consumers as they are proceeding down the purchase funnel. For CPGs, the main media partner is their retail distributors and the funds are pulled from co-op marketing, MDF (market development funds) or trade allowances.
Retail online media is still under the radar although firms like Triad Digital Media are expanding the possibilities. Triad is a fast growing unit of MARS Advertising and functions like a rep firm, ad ops service provider and production studio rolled into one.