Opinion: How CPG can ramp up e-commerce media
The growth of e-commerce—already expected to become 20 percent of all sales within five years—is accelerating rapidly because of social distancing and working from home.
Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Shipt have seen 218 percent, 160 percent and 124 percent increases, respectively, in average daily downloads compared to last month, according to research from Apptopia. Numerator research shows that 1 in 4 consumers who confirmed in-store purchases from March 1-March 9 replaced their in-store shopping trip with an online order. And IHL founder Greg Buzek predicts click and collect will double this spring.
Online shoppers come with a different mission—to procure, not browse, prioritizing convenience and speed—and check out with bigger baskets. This creates an urgent opportunity that brands can’t afford to miss.
Beyond getting listed, brands need to drive traffic. Principally, they need to navigate the self-serve media platforms operated by retailers like Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons-Safeway and Amazon. By doing so, they can respond to demand in real time and avoid any lag in processing (it typically takes a retailer’s team 3 to 4 weeks to develop a digital campaign).
Eye level matters exponentially more on the digital shelf. Fully 64 percent of clicks are on the first three items listed in response to a search query on a retail site. I’ve seen cases where being third vs. sixth yields 100,000 more impressions; it’s worth whatever we can do to move up.
So, how do brands best do that? With a holistic media program.
Start with sponsored product ads
Brands with low rankings can immediately increase their visibility on category pages and in search results with sponsored ads. The ads show only when your product is available at a store close to where the person is searching, so you can support the places where you have distribution directly. Brands that get in now will get the best pricing, as it will rise with demand.
Build out complementary category pages with onsite display
Focus on the product, not the brand. While display ads can be brand- or product-specific, I’ve seen the best success from pulsing ads around seasonal events and product promotions.
Run display ads to drive people onto the retailer site
Retailer data is one of the richest, purest, most real-time information sources because it doesn’t pass through a third party. Retailers see directly how ads trigger sales. In addition to making your brand matter more to the retailer, you get the best learning on which to build.
Expand your SEO content optimization
This is a long-term strategy brands need to start now. Paid search is the way to start on an e-commerce platform, but over time you need the corresponding boost of an organic search effort. Monitor your share of voice and search ranking for all relevant keywords, by product, on the retailer’s site. Then adjust product description pages continuously. There is no set-and-forget in content for SEO.
Measure the whole integrated activity
If you want to get progressively more effective, avoid the temptation (and mistake) to simply track sales. Look at the whole chain of digital touchpoints including keyword rankings, share of impressions and share of sales using syndicated services like Profitero and Numerator as well as retailer-specific data tools. When you see how your brand shows up and sells across retailers, you’ll know where to up your investment in long-term SEO and content.
E-commerce media is a new frontier, not a new tactic. For now, the imperative is to get on it. Before long, the dividing line will be how well brands integrate paid media with content, SEO and measurement.
Marketers will need a new playbook and agencies will need to embrace an expanded mission. Particularly for smaller brands, agencies will need to make e-commerce media a priority. The world’s biggest brands naturally command the most attention from retailers’ marketing teams, who must prioritize by spend. Agencies need to leverage their brand portfolios to create strategies with retailer teams across e-commerce components beyond self-serve.