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Why we care about retail media networks

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Why we care about retail media networks

Retail media networks are a hot new thing that’s been around for decades. Its roots go back to brands putting ads on store end caps and paying for placement in retailers’ weekly fliers. But, like everything else in marketing, digital took it into a whole different realm.

Simply put, these networks are a platform which lets brands buy advertising on a retailer’s website, apps and other digital properties, including in-store. More importantly, it also lets them run ads on the open web. Retailers that partner with media companies offer brands the opportunity to expand their reach and improve targeting with the use of in-depth shopper data.

What was once a staid addition to marketing campaigns is now a major focus of brands and retailers. 

“We want to create more meaningful intersections between our partners and customers,” says Charlene Charles, head of Dollar General’s DG Media Network Operations. “A brand wants to engage with the customer and give them the best cereal or the best personal care item. We want to reach those hard to reach customers in rural America … making sure that we get [them the] brands and products they want, need and desire. It’s really core to our overall pursuit to serve our communities and our customers, but now we’re doing that through a different channel.”

What makes retail media networks valuable?

Dollar General is a great example of what makes a retail media network valuable. It has a deep relationship with consumers who are difficult to reach through other channels. Of the chain’s more than 18,000 stores, 75% serve markets of 20,000 or fewer people. Because of this, it can provide brands with hard-to-get, first-person consumer data. That’s the kind of unique reach brands want.

“When you look at impression volume and delivery what ends up happening is it’s concentrated in major mass-market urban areas,” says Charles. “However you’re not capturing everyone, right? And because we have identified and can reach 90% of our customers through paid media, we are extending reach that’s unduplicated in rural areas.”

Read next: Marriott launches its own media retail network

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In return, DG gets to provide customers with offers they want to see and discounts they might otherwise miss – further strengthening the relationship. It also gets one other thing: money, a lot of money. 

While DG doesn’t break out how much they are earning from its media network, it’s likely quite a bit. Walmart’s network, Walmart Connect, is responsible for 12% of the company’s profits. One-quarter of retailers are generating more than $100 million in revenue from their media networks, according to Forrester. That’s made these networks a game changer for many retailers – and a potential lifeline in a worsening economy. Retail profit margins tend to be slim – in the 3% to 4% range. The margin on ad sales is usually 70% to 90%, according to BCG. And sales are very good.

According to MediaRadar:

  • In the eight months from May 1, 2021 to the end of January in 2022, more than 23,500 companies bought ads on retail media networks. 
  • 14% bought ads every month; the retention rate from December to January was 59%.
  • 24% of the companies advertising in January 2022 were first-time buyers. 

Furthermore, the retail media market will grow by 25% per year to $100 billion over the next five years and will account for over 25% of total digital media spending by 2026, according to BCG. Also important: This is new revenue for retailers. Per BCG: 60% to 70% of the projected $100 billion in 2026 retail media revenue will be net new spending over and above historical trade dollars. 

What’s in it for brands

The value of retail media networks to brands goes well beyond first-party data. They also make it easier to tie ad spend to sales. An online ad and the point of sale are so close together, it’s much easier to connect a purchase to a specific ad and action. This provides essential data for strategic decisions like resource allocation. It also provides essential data in the never-ending quest for ROI. 

That said, not everyone will strike gold with this. For retailers, these networks require technological infrastructure and expertise few have.

“If you’re a retailer and want to enter this space, you have to really understand that it’s crowded now,” says Matt Feczko, vice president for product management at Epsilon, a retail media solution provider. “It’s very competitive and you have to ask yourself, ‘Do I have the data to do this? Do I even have the people or technology?’”

For brands there are several different challenges. One is integrating with a new media network: How do they do ad sales? Is it something your existing tech can easily work with? Another is being sure the retailer’s data is what you need. Does it have a unique reach? Does it have the depth and granularity that will make it useful? 


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Retail media networks have turned retailers into ad moguls. That’s a huge change and nobody yet understands all the implications of it. They are also spurring a lot of innovation as marketers rush to capitalize on them. While much of that is online, it’s also happening with in-store advertising.

“It used to be that in-store was just printed things, like end caps where it’s just a big standing thing,” says Feczko “Now it’s moving into this interesting digital space like cooler screens.” 

Earlier this year, Walgreens introduced a display screen for coolers which shows an exact digital image of what is in the cooler – as you can with clear glass. However, it also runs an ad or offer for a specific brand while the customer is deciding what to buy.

If there’s a downside to the popularity of retail media networks, it’s the chance that they could grow in number to the point where the amount of inventory outstrips demand. Currently, however, they are proving a boon for marketers and retailers alike.

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About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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MARKETING

How To Create a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Personal Brand

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How To Create a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Personal Brand

Updated August 17, 2022

Anyone who didn’t win the billion-dollar Mega Millions jackpot this year needs to read this article.

With the talk about the Great Resignation (or Great Reshuffle), I bet you’ve pondered the future of your money-making work. Even if you’re completely satisfied with your current employment, it’s smart to plan for future promotions and pivots (especially unexpected ones).

And that requires doing something today that should feel very familiar: creating a content marketing strategy.

This time, though, you’ll create it for your personal brand.

Not sure you need to invest the time?

Consider these wise words from a CMWorld Twitter chat a couple of years ago that still ring true today:

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“Careers in marketing make personal branding even more important. If you can’t develop your own brand, people might not have the confidence that you can help them develop a company’s/product’s/agency’s brand,” Mike Myers tweeted.

The chat’s guest speaker, Anh Nguyen, agreed: “All the knowledge and experience gained for your personal brand can be scaled for content marketing for a client or an employer.”

The knowledge and experience you gain from marketing your #PersonalBrand can be scaled for employer or client #ContentMarketing, says @AnhTNguyen via @AnnGynn @CMIContent.

What is a personal brand?

Before you can craft your personal content marketing strategy, it’s important to understand what a personal brand is.

“Think of it as your reputation and calling card to the world,” Anh said in the Twitter chat. “Your personal brand helps you connect with prospective employers, clients, customers, collaborators, and so on.”

Gabriela Cardoza explained in the chat that a personal brand helps you:

  • Differentiate yourself
  • Build thought leadership
  • Grow trust and credibility
  • Build a network

You have a personal brand already. Every time you engage with people, you create perceptions of who you are in their minds.

When you craft a content marketing strategy for your personal brand, you’ll set yourself on a path toward shaping those perceptions to help you achieve your goals.

Craft a #ContentMarketing strategy for your personal brand and get on an intentional path to achieving your goals, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Use these seven steps to create a documented content marketing strategy for your own brand.

1. Craft a brand mission statement

All good content marketing strategies start with understanding the mission and goals. Thus, the first step in your personal content marketing strategy is to create a mission statement.

Here’s how Gabriela broke down the components of a personal brand mission statement:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • What you stand for
  • What your unique value is

I’ll add one more – What do you want to achieve with your brand?

Here’s a personal brand mission statement that might work for a content marketing writer:

I use my creativity and sense of business to help B2B brands engage with their audiences through compelling content. I work to ensure my content is equitable and inclusive. I want to grow my recognition as a go-to resource in the content marketing industry.

TIP: You can’t develop your personal brand without considering your employer’s brand because you’re tied together publicly. Tweak or supplement your personal mission statement accordingly.

You can’t develop your #PersonalBrand without considering your employer’s brand. You’re tied together publicly, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

2. Write an editorial mission statement

Put together your personal editorial mission statement, which connects to your brand mission.

CMI’s Jodi Harris writes that a great content mission statement details three elements (I’ll go into more depth on each later):

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  • Core audience – who you aim to help (serve) with your audience
  • What you’ll deliver – the kind of information you provide
  • Outcome or benefit – the things your audience can do (or will know) because of your content

A content mission statement answers the why, who, and what of your #content, says @joderama via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. #ContentMarketing #PersonalBrand Click To Tweet

You don’t need an elaborate statement. Just give a brief overview in a sentence or two.

With your personal brand and editorial mission statements complete, you now have the required footing to develop a content marketing strategy.

3. Detail your brand’s content marketing goals

Your personal content marketing can help you achieve your professional goals (to get a raise, a new job, more clients, etc.), but those aren’t your content marketing goals.

Content marketing involves creating and distributing content to attract and retain your audience and, ultimately, drive profitable action.

Here are some personal content marketing goals to consider:

  • Build brand awareness: Get your name out there.
  • Earn brand trust: Help people see you as a valuable, reputable resource.
  • Deepen brand loyalty: Connect with people on a deeper level (e.g., get them to sign up for your newsletter or share your content).
  • Attract strategic partners: Get people to want to help you (e.g., guest blogging and conference speaking).

Once you define your content marketing goals, you can zero in on the right audience.

4. Detail your target audience

You know what you want, but what does your audience want?

First, describe who your audience members are. What industries do they work in? What roles or titles do they have?

Then detail their interests and behaviors. What do they want to know? What are their pain points? Where do they live (online or geographically)?

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Let’s say you’re a content marketing specialist for a financial services company. Your goal is to build awareness of your name and skills. Your audience members are managers and directors of content marketing, communications, and marketing in the finance industry. They want to know more about how to get buy-in and budget support from their firm’s leaders. They check LinkedIn every few days but never use Facebook.

5. Identify your content sweet spot

Think of a Venn diagram. In one circle are your content marketing interests. In the other circle are your audience’s interests and needs. Where the two circles overlap is your content sweet spot.

These are the primary topics that your personal content marketing should cover.

You can also determine preferred content formats and distribution vehicles. For example, if your audience prefers podcasts over videos and you’re looking to build a subscriber database, you would want to create a podcast rather than start a YouTube channel. Or, if your audience usually attends an industry conference, you could submit a proposal to speak at the event. If your goal is brand awareness, you could offer guest blogs on sites your audience visits.

6. Build your content calendar

Now that you have identified your topics, formats, and distribution platforms, it’s time to build an editorial calendar. But remember, you’re just one person – and you probably already have a day job. This is not the time to be ambitious.

I recommend creating a minimum viable calendar – the least you know you can create and publish regularly. If that’s just one blog post a month or a quarterly LinkedIn profile review, that’s fine. If you attempt to do too much and fail to hit on every cylinder, you’re more likely to give up entirely. By setting realistic expectations, you’re more likely to keep going.

Create an editorial calendar for your personal #ContentMarketing. But don’t attempt to do too much, or you’ll give up, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. #PersonalBrand Click To Tweet

7. Set measurable goals

Now that you have documented your purpose, audience, content formats, and frequency, you should add numbers and dates to the personal content marketing goals established in Step 3.

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For example, if your content marketing goal is to earn brand trust, your metric might be to gain 50 subscribers to your newsletter in the next three months.

It’s important to connect measurable goals to all your tactics – it’s key to understanding how well your content works.

TIP: You might struggle to come up with realistic numeric goals in the beginning. Don’t let that prevent you from setting them. If you find your numbers were unrealistic in your review, change them. That’s one of the perks of developing your brand – no clients or bosses to complain about the shift.

Connect measurable goals to all your tactics so you’ll know if your #Content is working, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Make yourself accountable

The hardest part of your personal content marketing strategy may be that you’re doing it alone. Without a boss or client expecting your content, it’s easier to push off the work.

Set deadlines for every step in the content production and distribution process. Mark them on your calendar. If you get overloaded and know you won’t meet one, move it out, but don’t remove it from the calendar, or you’ll never get it done.

Want to add one more layer to your accountability? Get an accountability partner. Share your production calendar with that person. Treat this partner as you would a client or boss – let them know when the step is done or tell them about the revised date for completion. (You can do this simply by using the calendar’s notification system.) Even better, become the accountability partner for them too.

Let’s get started. On what date will you complete your personal brand content marketing strategy? Note it in the comments, and I’ll reach out that day to see if you’re done.

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Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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