Highlights from Exploring an Evolving Retail Landscape with Bryan Gildenberg

it's a customer's world retail media networks Dec 06, 2022


In this episode of It's a Customer's World, Andy is joined by long-time industry leader, Bryan Gildenberg. Bryan has decades of experience in CPG and e-commerce.  Most recently Brian was the SVP of Commerce at OmniCom Commerce Group. Today he leads his own firm,  Confluencer Commerce , a company dedicated to helping companies navigate the confluence of #Retail (#ecommerce, #omnichannel and #brickandmortar ). 

Their conversation focused on the ever-changing retail landscape and explores the promise and reality of retail media networks.

Explore the highlights below!

Andy: What is the promise of Retail Media Networks?

Bryan: The magic silver bullet of marketing was always to show somebody an ad and then know that they bought something, and that promise is in some ways, you know, visible and it's easier to see how you would realize that in a retail media network than almost anywhere else. And then I think secondarily, there are some challenges with the digital media ecosystem in particular.There's a lot of conversation about cookie degradation and how that was gonna fuel retail media. The biggest problem with digital media has nothing to do with cookies or any other type of snack food. It's fruit, it's Apple, and what Apple's done with IDPA (Intelligent Data Processing and Automation), mostly to Facebook performance marketing and the ways in which digital media buyers today are just looking for new places to spend since some of the digital media techniques and tactics they were using before just don't work as well as they used to.

So I think that is the other promise right now, is that in addition to all of the long term visionary harmonization of media and purchase, this is the short term arbitrage opportunity to buy media that works better. 


Andy: How will the evolution of retail impact agencies participating in this space?

Bryan: I think all great agencies are mirror reflections of their client and I think most of the great agencies are reflecting the client's deep confusion around the topic at the moment. I do think there's an interesting balancing act, Retail Media's got two words to it. And I think for a long time it was, capital Retail and small media, as the customer teams were largely tasked with trying to sort this stuff out as just another quote, from the retailer outside of Amazon. And then I think over the last couple years, to be honest, I think the switch has flipped a little bit because it looks like media, because the media teams are hearing from their Amazon teams how effective it is. They now want to buy it because they want the credit for it, which is totally understandable. But there's a real opportunity for agencies to bring together expertise on retail and expertise on media into a place where those two words are more similar in size in that equation. And to realize that even if the retailer is pushing you more in a media direction, because it's in their economic interest to do so, the person paying for it is the brand. And it may not be in the brand's economic interest to become as media centric in an approach to this as it is to the retailer because the brand, if you listen to my dear friend Spencer Baird at Inmar, who will tell you that for an average consumer packaged goods company, their underperforming trade budget is larger than their media budget, not their trade budget, just the underperforming part. The real opportunity for the CPG companies might be to repurpose money that's being poorly spent in the retail ecosystem. But in order for a media agency to even understand that problem, never mind be able to leverage it effectively, is a significant shift in capabilities and in perspective from where the world sits today.


Andy: What challenges are media teams facing?

Bryan: I think the problem is that it is watercolors, but you've got a bunch of people telling you it's oil painting and that your vision is bad. Which is not great. I think some of this is that there are two sorts of traps I think you can fall into here. One is a well known trap in the media and digital world. I'm going to paraphrase Robert McNamara here, who basically said, ‘Look, it is critical to measure what is important. It is stupid to make important that which you can measure.’ And hard lessons learned from Vietnam on that front as he was Secretary of Defense at the time. I think digital marketing falls prey to that a lot. Where the notion of, I can measure this, therefore it's important. Well no, you can measure it, therefore you can measure it. It's just one of these things where the fact that you can get to granularity and precision doesn't make it useful, right?


Andy: What new challenges will young brands face in terms of discovery?

Bryan: Retailers today, if I'm looking to dedicate shelf space to a new item, are choosing between Brand A that is gonna go old fashioned, CPG line extension, television advertising on third tier cable tv, but it's a big number, so it looks impressive even though nobody's watching it. Or I could go find some cool entrepreneurs, fun to hang out with, who have 125,000 followers on Instagram who I know are gonna be seeking that brand out in a physical store. There's just less risk, ironically, to that, there is to the big company launch. And I've heard some retailers talk about this where they basically said, look, the new item launch platform of the future is gonna be, you're gonna launch this thing online. We're gonna see if it works, and then we'll figure out if it warrants shelf space. I think there's gonna be fewer items that big companies cook up that out of the box are going to warrant 80% ACV (All Commodity Volume) distribution. The retailers aren't gonna do that. 


Andy: How will retailers adapt as consumers grow weary of heavy ad loads?

Bryan: I do think a generation is growing up where not only are they used to searches that are algorithmically generated for their interests, not produced to sell them ads. But also I just, they just don't trust it. They don't trust the advertising supportive network. Not because, ‘Ah, we don't trust big, whatever.’ They just know it is ads. It's not interesting to them.


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