Like Two Peas In An Ad Pod, RTB Platform Turns Brands Into Networks For Other Brands

In a surprising twist to the online ad network business, retail brands are beginning to offer their online users to other brands in what could well be called “store-branded” ad networks. In the latest move, online grocery chain Peapod has struck a deal with OwnerIQ, the Boston-based company developing the branded ad networks, to offer visitors to its grocery shopping site to other brands to serve online display ads to.

Peapod is the latest big retailer to sign up for what OwnerIQ dubs a “branded audience network.”

“At Peapod we’ve built an incredible asset that’s used by millions of busy online grocery consumers every month,” says Tim Dorgan, vice president-managing director of Peapod Interactive. “Looking at the advances in today’s advertising technology, we saw an opportunity to partner with OwnerIQ to further leverage this asset and create a new kind of advertising solution for today’s media buyer.”

Peapod’s motivation is pretty straightforward: monetization. The platform is simply a way for Peapod, and other retailers, to generate a new revenue stream by selling ad exposures to consumers visiting its site to shop.

In essence, the model isn’t that unlike what brick-and-mortar retailers do when they sell in-store signage or video channels inside their stores to generate incremental revenue streams from other consumer brand marketers seeking to reach those shoppers, particularly while they are in a product purchasing mindset.

The big difference with OwnerIQ’s platform is that it happens in real-time and operates alongside the rest of the burgeoning marketplace of online audience-buying, especially vertical ad networks competing to carve out some unique basis for targeting online consumers with real-time ads.

“The idea is, that in a world of ad exchanges and programmatic media-buying and audience-buying, that brands that have audiences are every bit as valuable, and maybe more so, than the traditional publishers that make their audiences available to ad networks,” explains Jay Habegger, co-founder and CEO of OwnerIQ. “We believe that brands can be media companies and aggregate audiences in the same way that publishers do.”

While Peapod is the biggest retailer yet in the grocery category to participate in the network, OwnerIQ claims deals with more than 250 retailers, including Yankee Candle and online furniture retailer Wayfair.com.

Habegger says participating retail brands benefit in two ways: The new source of revenues that come from sharing in OwnerIQ’s ad network sales, and the likelihood that some of the advertisers running on that network will be promoting brands that consumers will purchase through Peapod.

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