How Kroger Precision Marketing Will Build A 'Better' Ad Business Than Google

Marketers must know where brands stand amidst the competition, as more consumers shop online for groceries. Kroger Precision Marketing (KPM), the retail media business of Kroger that's powered by technology company 84.51°, has launched a new feature on its self-service platform for brands to see their share of the digital shelf.

Share of the Paid Digital Shelf is the latest addition to the analytics provided by Kroger Precision Marketing. It allows advertisers to analyze the metrics in different ways, in addition to determining the total number of clicks, sales driven by paid clicks on ads in-store and online, and data on reach and volume of customers to demonstrate the sales impact.  

“If I’m Tostitos, and I know that within the tortilla chips category I have 20% of the sales, I want to make sure I have at least 20% of the share of voice on the site,” said Michael Schuh, vice president of media strategy, Kroger Precision Marketing at 84.51°.

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The ability for a brand to be on the digital shelf is important in order to drive share and protect against competitors, Schuh said. “In our environment, 85% of all searches online are nonbranded, which means people search on terms like chips, not Tostitos, or oatmeal, not Quaker,” he said. “It becomes important for brands to have the correct share of shelf.”

That’s for about 1,000 keywords across Kroger websites. It’s really about consumers searching for crackers, chips or peanut butter rather than branded terms.

This led Kroger, in partnership with Microsoft Promote IQ, to give brands a way to create their own digital shelf through customized ads and experiences.

Kroger in 2020 more than doubled digital sales to reach and exceed the $10 billion and more than doubled the number of customers using at least one of its ecommerce services -- including delivery, which experienced a 150% year-over-year increase, according to the company’s annual report. COVID-19 changed consumer behavior, but the company expects that by the end of 2023, it will double the size of its digital business compared with 2020.

Kroger has a self-serve platform where brands can log in and run campaigns and where they optimize ads and set bid prices based on performance measures such as sales and share of paid digital shelf. Within the site, there’s a report called Share of Delivered Targets.

Today, the technology does not make recommendations based on performance, but in the future it will, Schuh said. It does recommend a bid range within specific categories as competition increases.

“Today, we put the data in the hands of advertisers, and tomorrow we will use that data to make recommendations,” he said.

It may sound a bit like the performance from Google Ads, but in this case, it gets the advertiser closer to the customer, he said. “If you’re in Google ads, you’re doing more browsing,” he said. “If you’re on Kroger.com, you’re looking to buy. You’re not doing research, so it’s better.”

The data feeds from the site into the platform based on personal experiences. It enables advertisers to see a minimum of three times -- but often between five times or 8 times -- return on ad spend for advertisers, basically because consumers are further down the funnel.

KPM uses its first-party retail data to create moments that inspire purchases. Share of Delivered Targets lets brands to make smarter digital advertising decisions and better optimize campaigns. Brands can use their Share of Delivered Targets data to:

  • Track daily share metrics for all live Search & Browse product listing ad campaigns
  • Validate the impact of optimizations on their share of category position
  • Inform how budget allocations may advance their campaign performance and share
  • Monitor changes in total sales share of an established product or new item launch
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