Retail media networks are expected to be a significant source of growth and opportunity for platforms and retailers in 2023.
According to eMarketer, 40.7% of China’s digital ad spending in 2022 went towards retail media networks owned by the likes of Alibaba and JD.com. This spending is far more than in the US, where 14.5% of digital ad spending went to retail media networks owned by the likes of Amazon, Walmart, and eBay.
As online shopping increases and data privacy concerns become more pressing, advertisers are moving away from using third-party cookies.
Advertisers are looking for advertising options that will increase investment returns. Retail media networks offer the opportunity to reach consumers at a critical point in their shopping journey - the point of purchase.
Campaign Asia-Pacific looks at some of the major retail media networks available to advertisers in Southeast Asia.
Carousell Media Group, the retail media network of secondary marketplace Carousell Group, launched Shopping Ads in 2022 to support brands in acquiring new customers and increasing sales.
Carousell hopes Shopping Ads will give consumers the most relevant ads possible through an optimised product feed triggered by the consumer's search queries on Carousell's marketplaces.
Carousell claims this will be an efficient and effective way for advertisers to boost traffic to their ecommerce stores and increase sales.
JJ Eastwood, the managing director at Carousell Media Group, points out that because the digital advertising industry has shifted away from third-party identifiers toward a privacy-driven approach, almost every marketer now has a first-party data strategy.
This shift has prompted them to allocate more budget to campaigns that drive traffic back to their apps and websites, as this is how they collect first-party data with consent from consumers.
"As more consumers shop online, they expect relevant, helpful, and informative ads. We use a brand's product feed triggered by consumers' search queries to achieve this, allowing consumers to discover new products that are directly related to what they are looking for," Eastwood explains to Campaign Asia-Pacific.
"Each Shopping Ad is informative and includes an image, product title, price, and brand name - all the essential ingredients of shoppable moments".
According to Eastwood, Shopping Ads utilises a product feed to serve only in-stock items to consumers. In addition, as the transaction takes place on the brand's website, this allows their sales teams to track inventory levels in real-time.
A core component of Shopping Ads is the closed-loop measurement from Carousell's marketplaces back to the brand's website. In addition, the platforms provide brands with the keywords behind each click, giving them consumer intent data that can help guide their other marketing initiatives.
"Advertisers can gain insights from Shopping Ads in real-time through an Application Programming Interface or Comma Separated Values file. The key is to connect this data with data across all sources to give them a holistic understanding of consumer trends," says Eastwood.
"For example, suppose a brand notices consumers opt for items made from sustainable materials. In that case, the entire company can change their media investments, raw material procurement and supply chain management."
Foodpanda officially unveiled its retail media network in 2022, called Panda Ads, in partnership with GroupM. The launch included omnichannel advertising features on the Foodpanda app, digital marketing assets and new partnership programs.
Panda Ads aims to help brands improve visibility, reach, and sales conversion, as well as build brand awareness on the platform. Foodpanda hopes its partnership with GroupM will also accelerate Panda Ads' growth across Asia and provide GroupM clients access to its retail media network.
Kiranjeet Singh Purba, senior director of advertising and partnerships at Foodpanda, tells Campaign Asia-Pacific the platform expects the trend for on-demand deliveries to remain strong even as the pandemic recedes, as customers have now gotten used to the on-demand deliveries.
Foodpanda wants to go a step further to help brands better connect with the platform's customers and create shoppable moments with a smooth user ad experience.
For example, Panda Ads can appear on the order tracking page, where customers' attention stays for a more extended period, but does not disrupt the overall shopping experience where the consumer is digitally native within a captive audience for almost 30 minutes.
"The advertisement is promoted on Foodpanda's order tracking page to create awareness. An interested customer will be redirected to the page where that specific product is listed for purchase by clicking on the ad," Purba explains.
"The conversion is completed when the customer adds the product to the cart and checks out. We refer to this as endemic whilst we also support non-endemic brands. Brands can also advertise using Foodpanda's customised vouchers, product sampling, and even placing ads on the bags of delivery riders."
GroupM is working with Foodpanda to offer its clients access to Foodpanda's adtech ecosystem. This partnership allows for targeted and relevant mobile ads beyond traditional social media channels.
Advertisers can tailor their campaigns to include various options, such as in-app advertising or digital marketing channels, to meet their specific goals. For example, Foodpanda's user base regularly orders food and groceries is attractive to brands looking to reach digital-native consumers who prioritise convenience.
Brands can also track their results through data, gaining insights into customer behaviour and preferences. Additionally, Foodpanda's subscription program, Panda Pro, allows for the creation of repeat customers through exclusive deals, discounts and features such as dine-in for frequent customers.
Singapore-based grocery retailer FairPrice Group announced in November 2022 it would allow media buyers to tap into its shopper data to activate media on channels outside its properties like over-the-top (OTT) platforms, digital audio and digital out-of-home.
Traditionally, advertisers invest in retailers' owned and operated media through their trade marketing budgets. These are usually bottom-funnel campaigns with strict return on advertising spend targets.
The retailer's partnership with The Trade Desk will instead see advertisers tapping on their national marketing budgets to drive upper-funnel offsite campaigns. By pairing retailers' data to consumers' preferred media channels on the open web, brands not only benefit from better decisions, but they can also connect ad exposures to actual purchases.
The partnership with FairPrice also enables The Trade Desk's advertiser clients who sell products at FairPrice stores to use closed-loop measurement to directly measure how their digital ad campaigns drive in-store and online sales within stores.
FairPrice tells Campaign Asia-Pacific through these measurement insights, The Trade Desk's advertisers can make near real-time enhancements to their ad campaigns, optimising in a way that was not previously possible.
"They can also connect digital touchpoints from channels typically used for branding, like digital out-of-home and OTT, to sales outcomes. Tying ad spend to sales online and in-store is the holy grail of marketing," said FairPrice.
However, FairPrice is not seeking measurement data from The Trade Desk in this partnership. Instead, this partnership relates to The Trade Desk's advertisers leveraging FairPrice's first-party data based on shopper category, purchase behaviour and life-stage insights.
For example, if a potato chip brand wants to promote a new flavour or product, they can use FairPrice's audiences to reach people who have recently purchased snack foods, people who have purchased other products from their brand in the past, and people who are likely to buy potato chips
Then, during the campaign, they can use sales reporting from FairPrice to understand which audiences, creatives, and channels are driving the best return on ad spend and optimise their campaign.
Brands not directly selling at FairPrice can use FairPrice's data to reach customers based on their life stage or lifestyle. For example, automobile brands may find it relevant to serve ads to new parents, and they can use FairPrice's audiences to reach them based on past purchases like diapers and milk powder.
Mitch Waters, senior vice president at The Trade Desk, says the top priority for the company is to build an omnichannel media buying platform for marketers. This priority also includes a marketplace of partnerships that enable its clients to use more data to inform their advertising decision.
"This partnership allows brands to leverage FairPrice's audience and sales data to run self-serve campaigns at scale. At the same time, it allows advertisers to use features within our platform. This is what advertisers are asking for – to have all of these capabilities in a single self-serve platform," Waters tells Campaign Asia-Pacific.
"If they choose to extend this business to become a full-scale retail media network, The Trade Desk will look to expand our partnership with FairPrice in more ways."
GrabAds, the advertising arm of super app Grab, believes it is in a unique position to offer advertisers shopper data and ad placements across different categories and consumer journeys, on and offline.
Access to shopper data and ad placements means an advertiser can cover a lot of ground within its owned properties, whether they want to target a profile across multiple points in their purchase journey or bridge the omnichannel gap.
For example, as the pandemic saw a rise in demand for fast, convenient recipes as more people chose to cook at home, Knorr partnered with GrabAds to introduce Shoppable Recipes to Grab users within the app.
Knorr used ads to promote cards promoting "full recipe delivery." Users simply click on the cards to shop the recipe by adding ingredients to their GrabMart baskets.
Dave Yang, the regional head of brand engagement at GrabAds, says shoppable recipes are an example of retail media in action in Southeast Asia as Grab was able to extend an online campaign into the real world by facilitating last-mile delivery with its network of delivery partners.
"With the impending death of the cookie, by offering access to rich consumer databases to continue powering targeted advertising, retail media networks will become a vital part of any media plan. I would even argue that advertisers who only use major search engines are already missing out on a whole subset of search traffic," Yang tells Campaign Asia-Pacific.
"We have seen that the journey starts well before the transaction. For example, according to our 2021 Grab NEXT Food Trends Report, 54% of GrabFood users in Singapore turn to Grab to discover new restaurants, while more than 50% use the app's search function to generate alternatives as they decide what to eat."
Yang says retail media networks have rewired how consumers interact with brands in-store and online as they aggregate a massive variety of activities within a single ecosystem.
Aggregating these activities means retail media networks have insights into users' real-world actions, allowing them to build rich audience profiles that advertisers can target and reach at every stage of the consumer journey.
For example, omnichannel fashion platform Pomelo partnered with GrabAds in Malaysia to launch two high-impact takeover campaigns on 11.11 and 12.12 to target users with proven transaction ability. The campaign also generated unique consumer insights on Pomelo's top-performing affinity audiences, allowing the brand to engage additional profiles. Overall, Pomelo saw a 15% increase in traffic.
"Retail media networks don't reach everybody, but they do reach people who've opened their app and mobile wallet, at the moment they are looking for something to buy, somewhere to go, or something to eat," explains Yang.
"They would also know who's ordered pizza before when they typically get hungry and whether they're within a restaurant's delivery radius. This translates to reaching relevant audiences in the right mindset to take action."
Grab also offers closed-loop measurement, where an entire campaign can be built within the app's ecosystem - from discovery to a transaction to order last-mile fulfilment. This closed-loop means it is easier and quicker for advertisers to execute campaigns and generate results, giving them access to metrics that are typically difficult to measure.
"Unilever Walls' Ice Cream was looking for a way in Thailand to meet rising online demand during the pandemic but lacked physical stores. By working with GrabAds, they were able to scale quickly using virtual storefronts on GrabFood and mobilising their network of mom-and-pop shops as GrabFood pick-up points," says Yang
"To build product awareness, an ad campaign was also launched by Wall's within the app. As a result, the marketing budget could be attributed to every sale, enabling the client to report a 2.1x return on ad spend."