Target made its first NewFronts pitch to advertisers not with content, but with a rebrand of its existing media network business. The retailer joined the likes of Hulu, which announced a new binge-watch ad format, and Walmart, which introduced a new video ad network, in presenting this week. But unlike other online publishers and digital media companies focusing on new programming, Target, which took the stage Thursday, instead explained the evolution of its Target Media Network and served up a rotating cast of speakers from brands like Chobani and MoMA.
The new media offering is called Roundel, a name derived from Target’s iconic—and undeniably round—bullseye logo. The division is a rebranding of the network the retailer first debuted in 2016. By using its own first-party customer data, Target says it can offer advertisers—including brands it does not sell on its own shelves—a compelling proposition for reaching new customers.
Roundel is “more than just buying ads on Target.com,” says Kristi Argyilan, who was recently named president of Roundel, adding that the company is already seeing “enormous interest” from brands. She said the network will help advertisers “market to a real group of consumers.” The business includes ad inventory on display, social, audio and linear TV. Rather than use Nielsen ratings when assessing TV inventory, Argyilan says Roundel will use its customer data to determine which programming might be right for an advertiser.
So far, Target has nearly 1,000 client partners that span across categories including beauty, food, automotive, financial services and travel. The big-box retailer offered up names such as Hasbro, Kellog’s, Mastercard and Allstate Insurance as current clients. A fact sheet about Roundel referenced a 2018 case study, in which Target created a YouTube custom content video series for brands such as Lego and Universal Thread. The series, along with Target's "For the Win" YouTube show, is the closest offerings the retailer has to qualify for the NewFronts, where presenters "must create original content in video format that is available online," according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
In comparison, Walmart, which hosted a presentation on Wednesday promoting its free, ad-supported streaming service Vudu, announced original content like "Albedo," a science-fiction detective series, and an unscripted series starring former "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson. Vudu will also air the first three episodes of the reboot of Nickelodeon's "Blues Clues" before it airs on TV.
After Target's NewFronts presentation, attendees were encouraged to wander into different speaking sessions that included creatives such as Leland Maschmeyer, chief creative officer of Chobani; Brian Collins, chief creative officer of design firm Collins; Paola Antonelli, senior curator at MoMA’s department of architecture and design and a founding director of research and development; Shankar Vedantam, host of NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast and radio show; Todd Waterbury, Target’s chief creative officer; and Joy Buolamwini, a poet.