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    Kroger opens ad inventory to third-party platforms in latest scale play

    • Kroger Precision Marketing (KPM) at 84.51°, the retail media unit of grocery giant Kroger, will allow advertisers to purchase product listing ads on its web properties using select third-party management platforms, according to news shared in an email with Marketing Dive.
    • Pacvue, Skai and Flywheel are the initial ad-tech firms with access to Kroger’s API, while WPP’s GroupM media-buying arm is an early agency partner testing the capability. The idea is to make it easier to run and manage on-site Kroger campaigns using outside retail media platforms that are already popular with brands and agencies.
    • Kroger said that expanding ad-tech options complements continued traction for sponsored product listings. Nearly 2,000 brands now use KPM’s product listings and 38% of clicks driven by the format come from households that are new to the brand, per KPM’s internal data.

    KPM has made a point of positioning its retail media business around flexibility for advertisers. Opening the option to buy ads via third-party campaign management platforms further shores up that approach and could court brands that are already familiar with Pacvue, Skai and Flywheel, three popular players in the budding retail media category.

    CPG marketers have been ramping up their spending on retail media as e-commerce adoption explodes and the looming deprecation of cookies mandates a change in thinking around ad targeting. While a greater variety of digital platforms to advertise on could be viewed as a positive development, some companies have expressed concerns that retailers are standing up their own version of walled gardens.

    KPM has tried to allay such concerns by emphasizing a focus on media transparency and accountability. Offering more choice on the tech end could also accelerate growth for advertising formats that are already gaining traction, such as sponsored product listings.

    “Expanding access through ad-management platforms will unlock even greater discovery, help brands measure the impact of their advertising and ultimately improve how consumers engage with those brands,” said Michael Schuh, vice president of media strategy at KPM at 84.51°, in a press statement.

    Kroger, which is the largest grocery chain in the U.S., is promoting product listing ads as an effective way for brands to break through to new consumers on the crowded digital aisle. The company serves around 60 million households annually and touts “closed-loop” measurement capabilities where it can match household ad exposure to actual purchases as its stores.

    KPM has made other moves to scale up its ad business in recent months. In October, it opened a private programmatic marketplace drawing on its troves of first-party data, including transactions tied to its loyalty program. The launch marked the first time brands received self-service access to KPM’s targeting solutions, retail performance metrics and quality controls like verification and brand safety tagging. A month later, KPM formally rolled out a collaborative cloud for marketers looking to leverage its transaction data. Reddi-wip, Slim Jim and Vlasic had tested the product for over a year.

    KPM’s continued additions to its retail media network also come as rivals ramp up their bets to capture more brand dollars. Albertsons in November unveiled the Albertsons Media Collective and intentions wrest greater control over its media business, winding down a partnership with Quotient. The platform started running campaigns last month.

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