Best Practices for Online Advertising in Retail
1. Get closer to the point-of-purchase decision. Online retailers sit at the most important point of the e-commerce transaction funnel — where consumers are making brand decisions for both their online and offline purchases. In fact, two-thirds of shoppers begin their purchase process online, with one in five starting at a retail site (the most frequent starting points among all retail shoppers). Even more significant, according to a July 2010 comScore study, 19 percent of shoppers who begin their search on retail sites either purchase directly on the retail site or navigate to a manufacturer site for further details.
There’s no question that retailers own some of the most valuable, untouched real estate in the advertising market. An ideal solution helps retailers and brands tap into this real estate in a couple of ways:
- complementing the user experience with ads that enhance rather than detract; and
- capturing value from the nonconverting retail audience (rougly 97 percent of e-commerce traffic).
2. Be relevant — it preserves and enhances the consumer experience. Many retailers have used and continue to use solutions such as Google AdSense, DoubleClick or other ad network technology to help them serve ads throughout the customer shopping cycle. Their solutions are built to solve nonretail publishing needs, however, and are therefore limited in their retail targeting capabilities.
Merchants dabbling with online advertising should seriously consider a retail-oriented ad server that solves the largest retail challenges, such as the ability to categorize ads based on products on search results pages or target ads based on brand attributes. This is a critical concern since an ad server that solves retail challenges will help advertisers within the retail ecosystem meet increasingly high expectations surrounding accountability and proven value for campaigns.
To preserve the consumer experience, the question of remnant inventory must also be carefully managed. As a premium publisher, retailers have the right to dictate how their remnant victory is handled. Dancing mortgage lady, “shoot the monkey” campaigns or other ads bought for pennies on the dollar to fill in remnant inventory should be abolished. Work with providers to find solutions for remnant inventory, using personalized content or in-house ads (e.g., your own product recommendations, in-house coupons or category sales).