SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Alison O’Keefe, General Manager of Retail Partnerships, AdAdapted

Alison O’Keefe, General Manager of Retail Partnerships, AdAdapted chats about a few top evolving trends in retail media in this quick catch-up:


Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Alison, tell us about yourself and more about your new role at AdAdapted?

My career has been focused on digital media, data, and analytics. At 84.51°, I was part of the Product, Strategy and Innovation team that built Kroger Precision Marketing, which immersed me in the Retail Media space. Based on my experience, and the challenges I observed at KPM, I was excited to join AdAdapted as GM of Retail Partnerships. AdAdapted’s goal is to bring our patented shoppable technology to retailers, helping them transform their off-property media into a sales driving channel for their suppliers.

How are you seeing trends in retail media change in today’s marketplace?

As Retail Media Networks continue to grow, more marketing budgets are shifting away from higher funnel brand marketing to shopper marketing. Retailers have a great value proposition to the marketplace — 1P purchase data, close loop measurement, access to eCommerce sites and digital wallets. They can help CPGs influence their customers at the point of purchase, which drives results.

Over the last few years, as retailers have grown their RMNs, most are beginning to hit a ceiling with their onsite inventory. This isn’t surprising, as customers only spend a fraction of their time on retailer sites/apps. The real growth opportunity is capturing a higher share of the billions of dollars that flow through off-property media. This can be challenging for Retail Media Networks, given that many suppliers aren’t seeing the incremental return they expect or want from their low funnel partners.

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What are some of the top practices that you feel advertisers need to focus on more to drive revenue goals with their off-property advertising initiatives within Retail Media Networks?

There are a few traps that are easy to fall into when running with Retail Media Networks. Because retailers have such amazing sales data, the desire to get very granular when targeting customers will many times lead to less-than-ideal results. There is nothing wrong with including specific segmentation, but coupling that with broader targeting allows for optimization, additional insights, and better performance. While 1P purchase data is the best indicator of behavior, there are many outside factors that can dictate future purchase. Another trap is to treat off-property campaigns the same as on-property or in-store.

The shorter promotion-based campaigns that work on-property don’t always translate into programmatic or social media. It’s important to think a bit longer term, allowing for off-property campaigns to ramp up and optimize. Consider a rotating creative or Masterbrand strategy that can continue to utilize channel algorithms and learnings to set the advertiser up for success.

Lastly, single channel executions can make sense in certain scenarios, but cross-channel campaigns almost always perform better, reaching customers at multiple touchpoints and cutting through the clutter on-property or in-store.

What are some of the near future thoughts / predictions you have in mind for retail media?

It is already happening with some of the larger Retail Media Networks, but self-serve options within all channels and the decoupling of data, media and measurement are advertiser demands that are getting harder and harder for retailers to ignore.

There is also the tension between data privacy and customer experience that is constantly being negotiated with retailers, advertisers and the technology and media partners they work with. In many scenarios, privacy compliant data sharing can enable a better customer experiences and advertiser insights, and retailers will need to determine how much they are willing to externally share and with whom.

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Can you share a few highlights on the type of ad features/adtech features that will become more prominent for retailer media to help drive retail sales and media revenue?

My hypothesis for why off-property media was not driving an incremental return for brands was twofold. One, the majority of people do not want to start/complete their shopping trip at the exact moment you reach them consuming content. Two, people have been telling us for years they do not want to click on banner ads. As an industry, we have come to accept 0.2% or 0.3% CTRs as “good,” and that driving people off their desired experience to a product page or login is the best user flow for conversion.

The reason I was so excited to come to AdAdapted was our patented technology. It allows off-property to perform on par with on-property, placing the product into the intended list (or cart), and that’s it. No bouncing off your news or fashion blog site — just the knowledge that when you ultimately have time to complete your shopping trip, the product you wanted is waiting for you when you’re ready. This is true even if we are only affecting post-click conversion that translates into impactful sales. I believe that once more customers know how our experience works, we will also exponentially increase click rates. Many times in digital advertising, it is tough to have a win-win-win when looking at the customer, advertiser and retailer, but our solution accomplishes just that.

Some last thoughts, takeaways, digital sales/customer communication tips and best practices before we wrap up!

I spent a bit of time on the brand side of marketing, and the one thing I repeatedly told my team was to not make the mistake of thinking that the customer cares as much about our brand as we do. We live and breathe our brands, but out in the marketplace we are one of many. It’s our job as marketers to make advertising targeted, beneficial, and non-disruptive. Listening to the non-verbal cues our customers give us is just as important as analyzing the direct feedback and sales. This can help us understand what the majority of customers truly care about and overlay that onto our brand’s objectives and strategies.

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AdAdapted Logo

AdAdapted is a leading shopping list marketing and insights platform built for CPG brands, agencies, and retailers. AdAdapted’s powerful list data and unique ad products help the world’s top CPGs meet their most important goals. With 110MM+ US shoppers using a mobile grocery list app, AdAdapted has built a distinct audience and ad offering no other solution can provide. No one gets branded products on the list and in the cart like AdAdapted.

As GM of Retail Partnerships at AdAdapted, Alison is excited to bring a seamless shoppable experience to off-property media that both elevates the customer experience and performance. Alison has spent the majority of her career focused on digital media, data, and analytics. Most recently, Alison spent time on the brand side as head of marketing for a regional restaurant brand, Frisch’s Restaurants, shifting their strategy to be more focused on digital and measurement during the pandemic. Previously, she was part of the Product, Strategy & Innovation team at 84.51°, building out Kroger Precision Marketing’s off-property Retail Media offering for their suppliers.

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