How Target is expanding its retail media network as holiday marketing heats up

2023/10/16 Innoverview Read

Target is expanding its Roundel retail media network on several fronts, a move that arrives as advertisers are in the thick of their holiday planning. Roundel is broadening its capabilities with the introduction of a self-service buying tool along with adding a number of premium programmatic publisher partners and experimenting more in shoppable connected TV (CTV) at the height of the gift-giving season, Marketing Dive can exclusively share. 

Increasing the breadth of Roundel’s offerings comes as retail media grows more crowded, pushing brands to be selective with their dollars and adding appeal to platforms that can provide a deeper level of technological sophistication and audience insights. Roundel draws on first-party data derived from the tens of millions of shoppers who visit Target weekly both in-store and online, as well as the company’s Circle loyalty program that commands 100 million members. Calls for retail media standardization have also grown louder in recent months to address the fragmentary nature of the channel, where there are currently few ways to uniformly track and measure the success of campaigns across networks. 

“We feel strongly that, within this industry, we’re in the early innings and we need this business to mature,” said Sarah Travis, president of Roundel, of the standardization question, adding that the company supports the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s efforts in this area. “There needs to be more transparency and there needs to be more standardization.”

Aligned with the mandate around streamlining and simplicity is the launch of Roundel Media Studio, a self-service buying tool focused on Target’s owned properties. Self-service offerings are intended to welcome more small- and mid-size advertisers into the fold, helping platforms achieve scale. Travis could not share growth targets for Roundel Media Studio but said Roundel’s current advertiser network numbers in the thousands.  

Roundel Media Studio initially carries Target Product Ads, a sponsored product format, but eventually will serve as the destination for many of the network’s solutions. Roundel Media Studio is in the pilot phase now and will expand to more advertisers heading into 2024.

“We’re calling it the future home for advertisers to access the breadth of Roundel’s media experiences,” said Travis. “It’s going to make it easier for smaller brands to work with us, which we think is really important.”

Roundel Media Studio is also positioned around giving advertisers a variety of buying options. Roundel is continuing work with third-party supply- and demand-side partners like Criteo, aiming to stave off accusations that the service could act as a walled garden, a point of concern in the retail media space.

“We’ve always believed and advocated for a more open and flexible way to buy our media,” said Travis. “We want to make sure that we continue to deliver flexibility, that we’re giving brands multiple buying options.”

Experiments and experiences

Roundel Media Studio complements the network’s other self-service tools, including Kiosk, a campaign reporting and measurement feature, and Programmatic by Roundel. The latter helps brands create custom audiences and reach them on brand-safe inventory off-site using real-time bidding and a demand-side platform of the marketer’s choice. The hand-curated product is adding over 40 new premium publishers to its roster, including The New York Times, AMC Networks and Hearst properties, as well as opening more app inventory. At the same time, Roundel is moving from a fixed to dynamic pricing model. 

“That is really important in terms of allowing brands and agencies to have more control and deliver even better performance,” said Travis. 

The executive added that Programmatic by Roundel data will be added to Kiosk so that brands can measure their programmatic performance data alongside other buys on Roundel. Roundel’s programmatic business has grown by about 10 times since it launched in 2019, but Travis declined to share specific figures. Roundel, in total, generates millions in revenue for Target and stands as one of the largest retail media networks based on third-party analysis.

On the more experimental end, Roundel is broadening the availability of a shoppable CTV format that entered testing several months ago. People watching ads on select streaming and TV partner services, including Animal Planet, Crackle and Sling TV, can scan a QR code to add products to their cart for purchase, with Target fulfilling the order for pick up. 

The goal is to move CTV from passive to more commerce-oriented viewing occasions, according to Travis, an area that rivals like Walmart are also pursuing. A spokesperson shared Innovid CTV data that show over half of surveyed Target shoppers are subscribed to an ad-supported streaming service, a 24% jump from last year.  

“Brands can continue to lean into our first-party data for targeting and measurement but, in this case, also tap in more closely to our same-day services,” said Travis. “Holiday is a perfect time to have this available to a wider range of our advertiser base.”

Also on deck for the holidays: Shoppable digital rooms that will allow multiple brands to advertise around seasonal moments based on specific categories or guest segments and more bets on in-store retail media activations.

“As we head into holiday, we’re really thinking about experiential,” said Travis. “Think things like big sampling events and offering unique Circle deals during those sampling events.”

 (Copyright: How Target is expanding its retail media network as holiday marketing heats up | Marketing Dive)