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Exclusive Q&A with Ahold Delhaize USA head of AD Retail Media

Giant Food pick up
Ahold Delhaize USA is moving forward in connecting advertisers to shoppers.

Ahold Delhaize USA sees a bright future for its retail media network.

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Bobby Watts, head of AD Retail Media at Ahold Delhaize USA, about the grocery retail group’s latest efforts with its AD Retail Media network offering and general trends in the space.

[Read more: Ahold Delhaize USA expands CPG promotional platform]

What are some of the main issues with retail media networks today?
Retailers and advertisers are all seeing the potential for growth in this space as CPG brands and others are looking at their national media budgets and wondering if there a more effective way to leverage their spending. Especially as we all continue to contemplate what a cookieless world will look like and if a shift of revenue that may occur as a result.

As a retailer, Ahold Delhaize USA is counting a shift and trying to make sure that we're ready. On a macro scale, it's about being prepared now. Also, at a macro level, this creates a ton of complexity for our advertising partners. Because instead of being able to do one big national programmatic advertising campaign, they may have to work with a multitude of retailers and their retail media networks to reach the same number of consumers. 

Also on the retailer side, our responsibility is to try to make it as easy as possible. If you're going to stand up a retail media network, you need to ask yourself as a retailer, how can you make it as simple, easy and seamless as possible for the advertisers. I believe whichever retailers have the easiest platform and connection for their advertising partners will be the ones that are getting more than their fair share of those programmatic dollars as they do shift.

What do you think the biggest trends in retail media networks will be for 2023?
There is going to continue to be a trend in measurement where advertisers look for a methodology that everyone can align to and is consistent across the industry. This would eliminate the possibility of an inflated metric that might include ‘attributable sales’ outside of what the media actually produced.

Another big emerging trend is using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to personalize retail campaigns to consumers by taking full advantage of our first-party data and moving into the idea of ‘hyper-personalized’ campaigns.

Omnichannel in my opinion, is a little overplayed. Also, the metaverse is very interesting, but I think its retail media network usage and impact are still to be determined.

What is your opinion of the next-generation video channels, like connected TV and livestreaming?
They are powerful channels that carry a premium CPM (cost per thousand ad impressions). Next-generation video is a great way to reach consumers. Ahold Delhaize USA can target customers through these channels, as well.

What specific plans does Ahold Delhaize USA have for your retail media network offering in 2023?
On Jan. 3, we launched our new platform with Citrus Ad and Epsilon with a unified onsite/offsite platform. This provides one platform for buying media and for measurement. The other thing that we're focused on is continuing to build out our ad tech ecosystem.

We are starting to bring all these endpoints into one ad-serving solution, so that we can understand all the touchpoints. This means we will be able to serve a social post or onsite posts to customers on path to purchase. We will also be able to hit them with a programmatic billboard on their way to the store, or via in-store digital screens. But our idea is to be able to do all that through one platform and then bring that around with closed-loop measurement to understand what was the most effective media that drove conversion once they convert.

Also, Ahold Delhaize USA wants to know we can make more use of that space so that we're not repeating the serving of ads to someone who has already seen them and then converted somewhere along the path to purchase. There are other great things we’re looking at, like connecting with consumers in their vehicles, but that’s further down the pipeline.

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