Microsoft Expands Its Retail Media Network

The relationship between Microsoft Retail Media, a division of Microsoft Advertising, and Mood Media company Vibenomics might seem complicated, but it is not. It is actually as simple as it can be for two completely different businesses. The biggest common goal is that both want to support in-store retail.

The two companies are collaborating to bring multiple channels to market, running tests with brands and retail-media networks in the grocery space across mutual clients.

These test campaigns consist of running simultaneous audio advertising in a physical store, digital advertising on the retail website, and using geographic controls to provide incremental lift of each type of media and as a combined omnichannel strategy.

Early tests show significant lift as a combined messaging tactic.

The Microsoft Retail Media business initially attempted to address the customer journey through multiple channels by bringing in-store sales data into its platform. It connected in-store sales attribution to online impressions, which did not really work in terms of connecting with consumers.



Vibenomics changed that when the two companies began working together last year to develop a retail offering from websites and search to physical stores.

Many purchases still take place in stores, so any media strategy that does not consider in-store and measurement is missing a big piece of the puzzle, says Nate Pinkston, head of growth, retail media, Microsoft.    

For that to happen, brands needed to see performance. Vibenomics puts a lot of effort into programming content, from music to voices and the tone of messages. Dynamic creative plays a role that can drive the consumer to a specific aisle in the store.

Artificial intelligence supports creative production copywriting, and voice products. The company also has begun to test things for display. “We’re trying to find the correct way to approach it,” says Paul Brenner, senior vice president of retail media and partnerships at Vibenomics.

The focus is on merging the data that identifies customer behavior online and in the store. Microsoft and Vibenomics ran a multivariant controlled test that compared the joint lift of audio and retail onsite and open interest advertising on Bing search. The unnamed yogurt advertiser ran onsite and in-store, resulting in an increase of 40% higher household spend and 50% share of category results.

The goal to measure the lift at every point of the shopping journey starts with Microsoft Advertising serving an ad on the retailer’s website and in Bing search results. The consumer sees it before arriving at the physical store. At the store, the consumer hears the ad in an audio announcement.

Connected TV is not part of the strategy, yet, although Microsoft has access to services through Xandr.

“It is a place we are headed as we bring the Microsoft Advertising ecosystem together,” Microsoft's Pinkston says.    

Microsoft Advertising is the exclusive provider of Netflix advertising, so brands could separately traffic connected TV ads in the platform, but the company is working on pulling together its entire ecosystem of services.

CPG, large sporting goods, and home-improvement companies have begun to use the combination of online digital ads and in-store audio ads.

The goal is to create different experiences for fashion retailers. Rather than audio on the loud speaker, the ad might appear on a screen in the store giving the consumer the ability to flip through a brand’s product catalog of items not carried in the store, but could be ordered.

Mood Media, Vibenomics’ parent company, is in about 500,000 retail locations, supporting Victoria Secret with tabletop displays with motion video. It also supports many of the largest grocery chains, and big-box sporting goods retailers.

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