RMNs: Where Path to Purchase and Point of Purchase Converge
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RMNs: Where Path to Purchase and Point of Purchase Converge


Shifting consumer behavior, mounting privacy regulation, and the demise of the cookie are just a handful of challenges that retailers, CPG brands, and media buying agencies have tackled in the last two years. Yet, these challenges have prompted an era of reinvention that continues to breed new opportunities. Retailers, CPG brands, and media buying agencies are now more tightly interconnected because of the shared experiences they’ve navigated and the rise of retail media networks (RMNs). 

As more retailers have begun to recognize the value of their shopper data, they’re quickly moving into the world of publishing, and establishing their own media brands and teams. Walgreens, Target, and Macys represent just a few examples. As more retailers jump on the RMN bandwagon, CPG brands and media buyers should take note. RMNs make the cross-media journey more accessible, providing invaluable data and an opportunity to reach the average consumer across more touch points than ever before, not only on the path to purchase, but also at the point of purchase. 

Why RMNs?

81 percent of CPGs plan to expand their RMN investments and more CPG brands are developing centers of excellence to manage RMN portfolios according to the 2021 Evolution of Retail Media Networks MERKLE report. Several factors are driving these trends. 

True Omnichannel Potential
On any given day, the average consumer is juggling multiple responsibilities, from work to childcare drop off and pickup, meal prep, exercise, and much more, so reaching them isn’t exactly easy. Executing a cross-media campaign that speaks to audiences on the path to purchase (on the couch, at their desk, on the phone, en route to a location, etc.) and at the point of purchase (in-store and at the register), where they are actively shopping and making purchase decisions, is more likely to capture their attention and inspire purchases than using a single channel alone.    

Although these campaigns can be executed today without an RMN, that process is complex, time-intensive, and expensive. Programmatically equipped RMNs, however, provide a set of self-serve tools that make cross-channel buys more straightforward and cost-efficient. Ad budgets can easily be spread across channels for one-to-one and one-to-many reach, including OOH and in-store displays. 

OOH and in-store displays are crucial to this strategy, as they provide an ideal combination of reach, frequency, and recency to maximize ad spend. Whether on the path to purchase or at the point of purchase, OOH ads can go a long way in improving reach and recency in RMNs. OOH, for instance, can increase reach by as much as 303 percent when complemented by mobile or web messaging (Posterscope) and drive four times more online search and social media activity per ad dollar spent than TV, radio, or print (Nielsen). Furthermore, it can enhance brand lift, footfall traffic, and store visitation. 

Messaging and Location Flexibility 
Given how quickly cultural events and global circumstances can impact messaging, creative content or OOH advertising venues that may seem appropriate one day, may not be the next, or budgets may need to shift abruptly. Having the ability to adjust campaigns on the fly, or change the creative or location is paramount. The programmatic nature of RMNs provides this flexibility. It’s easy to start and stop campaigns; alter the frequency of ads or the creative; and establish audience targeting based on real-time triggers like the weather, traffic conditions, a nearby event, and more. 

Unique Data Insights and Measurement
62 percent of CPGs want to work with RMNs for access to their first-party data (MERKLE). This is largely because retailers hold incredibly valuable data about customers and their shopping habits via purchase history and loyalty programs. This data has become invaluable in an era where third-party targeting is fading, given the impending death of the cookie and tighter government privacy regulation. Furthermore, with OOH part of the RMN equation, it becomes easier to measure the effectiveness of RMN campaigns offering insight on brand awareness, ad recall, purchase intent, foot traffic, sales lift, mobile device ID pass back, and coupon redemption. 

Creative Personalization and More Relevant Timing
Frequency may keep a consumer on a mobile application or website for longer times, but ultimately the goal is to leave an impression that inspires an in-store purchase, which is where OOH comes into play in an RMN. Recent findings indicate that 40 percent of CPGs view personalization opportunities through creative as one of the biggest RMN benefits (MERKLE). An integral part of most RMNs, OOH introduces exponential dynamic and interactive creative capabilities. It also makes it easier to extend a message to audiences on a larger format medium on their path to purchase (i.e. along a bus route to the store) and then again in-store via displays with the recency needed to close the purchase, or instill brand loyalty. 

So, why are RMNs considered an emerging strategy? 

93 percent of CPGs view RMNs positively, and for those that aren’t yet fully on board, part of their reluctance stems from confusion (MERKLE). The RMN space is still very much evolving, from the players involved, to how it is defined, the technology that makes it possible and more. Although we’ve seen companies like Target, Walgreens and Home Depot succeed with their RMNs, and CPG brands benefit from RMN campaigns, the point-of-purchase part of the equation is still coming together. There are general quirks to be worked out, but success hinges on collaboration and work from all parties involved.

RMNs aren’t just another flighty trend. They’re here to stay and are an incredibly powerful omnichannel tool for endemic and non-endemic advertisers looking to reach consumers across the complete purchase journey. How powerful they become, however, lies in the hands of retailers and CPG brands, as well as advertising and retail technology developers. An open line of communication between these parties will be crucial to the continued RMN evolution, especially in underscoring the importance of point-of-purchase messaging as retailers build out their networks. In these conversations, it’s important to advocate for more dynamic screens and technology in-store that can make for a more engaging shopper experience. In the end, RMNs that focus on the complete customer journey and combine reach with frequency and recency will prove the biggest boon to CPG brands and retailers.

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