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Cause You Know It's All About That Retail (Media) - Elizabeth Marsten PPC Ponderings Podcast Bonus Interview

Cause You Know It's All About That Retail (Media) - Elizabeth Marsten PPC Ponderings Podcast Bonus Interview

10/25/19 UPDATE: Hello Facebook Agency Visitor Person!  We’re delighted to have you visit this awesome post. About a year ago, ZATO stopped offering Facebook Ads solutions so we could focus solely on what we do best: Google Ads. Because of this, we’re always interested in partnerships with great Social Advertising agencies (like yourself, wink wink!) and we offer referral fees for signed clients!  Anyway, back to it, and happy reading…

Post Summary

In this episode, we pick the big brain of Tinuiti's Senior Director of Strategic Marketplace Services: Elizabeth Marsten.

I've (Kirk) known Elizabeth for years back when we both dug into Google Shopping (we even co-presented one of the greatest presentations of all time in our "Fantastic Feeds and How to Mind Them"), and now she's gone over to the dark side of retail media. Or the light side.

However you look at it, retail media is here to stay and there's nobody better to think it through than Elizabeth.

Crank this episode up while waiting for your Target Pickup, but don't forget to listen to the Core episode on the Supply Chain crisis first. As a reminder, Elizabeth was interviewed in our last Core episode on the Supply Chain crisis, so if you haven't caught that one yet, make sure to give it a listen first. The Supply Chain Crisis Explained. Why Did It Break, and How Did It Impact Ecommerce? - PPC Pondering Podcast - Ep 4

In today's bonus episode, you'll hear the rest of the conversation Elizabeth and I had that we couldn't fit into our full Core episode on attribution as we all ponder digital attribution together.  

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Elizabeth is the Senior Director of Strategic Marketplaces Services at Tinuiti, where she works with teams in advancing cross-functional strategic enterprise services through partner development, advertising and sales support on retail media channels, such as Walmart, Target, Instacart, Kroger, Criteo Retail Media and more. With more than 15 years of ecommerce and digital marketing experience, Elizabeth is a noted industry expert and has spoken at many of the leading marketing conferences in North America and is also a regular contributor to AdWeek on retail media.


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Episode Transcript

Elizabeth Marsten:

Folks [inaudible 00:00:04] retail is dying. That's nottrue. Retail isn't dying. It was just boring. When was the last time retailreally blew your mind in terms of an innovation? What was their last biginnovation?

Chris Reeves:

Welcome to the ZATOWorks PPC Ponderings podcast, where wediscuss the philosophy of PPC and ponder everything related to digitalmarketing. Today's show is a bonus episode of our full interview with thesenior director of strategic marketplace services at Tenuity Elizabeth Marsten.In this episode, Elizabeth and Kirk ponder all things retail media, and how theevents of the past two years have affected this aspect of digital marketing. Ifyou haven't heard Elizabeth in our fourth official PPC Ponderings podcastepisode about the supply chain crisis, go give it a listen. Otherwise, pleaseenjoy our full conversation with Elizabeth.

Kirk Williams:

Can you give us your name, title, where you work?

Elizabeth Marsten:

My name is Elizabeth Marsten. I am the senior director ofstrategic marketplace services at Tenuity, which is the long way we're jokingsaying what we called strategic services before we knew retail media was goingto be a thing. And I've been at Tenuity for two years now going on to three,and been in digital and eCommerce just in general for the last 15 years.

Kirk Williams:

You have a deep eCommerce background. I know we've spokentogether at conferences on like Google shopping and that, so really have a lotof years of experience in that field.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Indeed. I remember when Facebook ads first came out, even,and Google shopping used to be an SEO play. And here we are.

Kirk Williams:

Back when it was free. Okay. So let's kind of thinkthrough, so last couple years, March 2020, it hasn't escaped us the irony ofrecording this today as we talk about like big major events, like potentiallyworld changing events happening. And today you have the Russia Ukraine thinghappening, which at some point it seems like world changing events, please stop.So as we think about March 2020, so stuff starts to hit the fan January,February, March. Maybe let's just start by giving us a little bit of what doyou remember of that time, especially in terms of as you're kind of thinkingthrough Tenuity clients and you know, what are you starting to hear frompeople? What are some of the timing of those sort of things? What are emotions,maybe? You could just talk through that.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Yeah, absolutely. So when I started at Tenuity I was theonly person on the marketplace's team that had been brought in from essentiallywhat would be considered a Google or a search background. Had experience inmarketplaces like Amazon Jet, Walmart, eBay. And that was the kind of thegenesis for why I was there. We had one Walmart client at the time and thequestion was what should we do? And so as I start to build out the business andas we start to go into the end of 2019, it starts to become very apparent wherethese retailers are moving and where the business is kind of moving and thekinds of models that they're going to be set up in order to do advertising onthe first party side, because concurrently, we're talking about the deprecationof the third party cookie.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Now it hasn't really progressed to the point that it istoday. So there wasn't that much pressure to move very quickly. But then onceJan, Feb, March 2020 hits, it starts to look like there may be some majorshifts. And so what was funny is in the industry, what we talk about is how thepandemic really just accelerated what was already coming, which is very true.There had been several retailers that already had made improvements or changesto their website, to their in-store, how they were tying eCommerce in store andonline together, revamping their apps, whatever it was. So Home Depot was likea really good example I would say of someone who was pre-pandemic preparing forthis with curbside pickup and outside inventory and that kind of stuff. AndTarget was the other one with a big push towards curbside pickup, revamping oftheir app and their agency, their media agency within Target called [inaudible00:04:21] was re-imagined in 2019 as the slogan was.

Elizabeth Marsten:

And then you have the bigger players coming in like aWalmart where now we have all these restrictions around going in store and theability to be able to use an online interface to transact for in store becomescritical as no one wants to stand in line in the grocery store parking lot fortwo hours to get in, to get their stuff. So this became extremely accelerated.It was great for me because then I got to start building out a team, and itbecame very apparent that this might not only be a thing, but a thing thatstays. And so that carried us through the end of '20. We get into '21. Now Ihave 22 different retailers minimum that I'm talking to on any given month,depending on what's going on. You've got your big box still that are leadingthe pack.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Your Walmarts, your Targets, your Krogers, and your Instacart.Instacart had a great year in 2020. 2020 was crappy for most people, but forInstacart, it was great. And so as '21 happens, we start to evolve theofferings within that. But also we plateaued. I would say in about summer of'21, we really started to slow down in terms of catching our breath for thedifferent ad types that had been introduced, the different capabilities. Therewas a lot more questions from like the brand side or from the agency side ofgoing, okay. So we've tested and we've learned, and now we're allowed to goback in the store. So what are we getting for this investment? How is thisstarting to roll? What does our future look like? How do we plan for '22? Andso then we starting to get into the more detailed discussions around measurementand being able to actually close the loop.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Other options start to come out like live stream shoppingand video and social and influencer. And now here in '22, and I have a massivemenu of things to choose from on a per retailer basis. And so the mission thatI have mostly for this year in dealing with that is around media mixedmodeling. What channel, what platforms, how often, how much? And then marryingthat up with the in store capabilities that the brand may have, or be requiredto maintain due to the classic retailer models with the buyer and merchandisingand how in-store works, which is a whole other story.

Kirk Williams:

Okay. So as you've noted you're specifically focused onretail media. What percentage, so things were already heading this way as younoted before the pandemic. Pandemic definitely accelerated it. Is there a wayto kind of gauge what percentage of growth occurred, maybe just because of thepandemic, or is it a little bit hard to do that with retail media?

Elizabeth Marsten:

It's hard. Because the pandemic really pushed us forwardto where we were going to go. I think e-marketer has the most recent forecaston it. They've been kind of tracking. I think the best indicators to look at,instead of eCommerce look at grocery eCommerce because that was the categorythat was basically at zero and has the most potential to grow the rate of inwhich that grows. I believe they're saying it's going to be like 30% I think by2024. I have to go look that up directly, but it's something in that range. Andso that gives you an idea of speed overall for adoption too, because that's thelast thing that people want to or think of buying online necessarily. So youdon't hesitate when you think I'm going to buy a book or a DVD or even pair ofshoes online. But when you think about eggs, sociologically, we shift our mindsto an in-store experience.

Kirk Williams:

And in that case, retail media pretty much owns grocery asopposed to eCommerce.

Elizabeth Marsten:

And it's funny is depending on how you define it, likeeCommerce versus online grocery. So I've noticed that each retailer is a littlebit different. For example, you order online with Kroger and you call to say docurbside pickup. When you call in to pick up your order, you say eCommerce. Ifyou are like a Walmart, you're less focused on necessarily like eCommerce andbucketing that transaction as online and thinking of it more of likeomnichannel. So Walmart is so heavily transacted in store, but we know thatpeople go online on walmart.com and have experiences. Don't buy something, butthen they're going to the store in three days. And that's probably why. Sothere's better research that's happening, there's inventory checks that arehappening. And so how do you start to really define eCommerce?

Kirk Williams:

And then what percentage of this growth that's occurred doyou think is going to remain as we begin to at least normalize pandemicbehavior, even if the pandemic's still here, it's somewhat getting more andmore normalized, especially based on location. Montana's going to look a lotmore normal than LA type of deal.

Elizabeth Marsten:

LA never has been normal to be fair.

Kirk Williams:

That's fair. Like what percentage of that do you think isgoing to be around actual changed user behavior? Some of that for mepersonally, like Target pickup, we use Target pickup endlessly now. Never havebefore.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Anyone with small children.

Kirk Williams:

And I'll never stop.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Small children, I don't have to go in the store. Pandemicor not, I would've done that.

Kirk Williams:

Exactly. And like you said, pandemic kind of forces thatquickly. So do you think a good percentage of that really is changed userbehavior as well? Or do you think some of it is going to shift back?

Elizabeth Marsten:

We love our stores. So the numbers are showing that welove our stores and that folks are willing to go back in. Retail saw a nicebump in Q4 and we are still seeing foot traffic go up. However, really interestingside note with that is Macy's just did their earnings call for last quarter.And one of the things they noted was the value of a customer that interactswith the online experience or buys online and in store is I think it was likefour X more valuable, something significant, than someone that just buys via asingle [inaudible 00:10:39]. They're online only, or in store. And I think toyour question about behavior, it's a long term play, so it takes years forbehavior to change. I think we are functionally more comfortable with it thanwe've ever been before.

Elizabeth Marsten:

We're still going to go into our stores. I would be reallycurious to see what the next generation does with it because they're sodigitally focused anyway. Maybe they don't need real food and then they just goon the Metaverse and they have like the fake food. It's fine. But we will see,I think the growth that we have now, it's starting to slow and that's kind oflike the leveling out of the post pandemic or the height of the pandemic, butwe are still going to want to go in and touch and feel and pick up the product.

Kirk Williams:

Yeah. And sometimes even generationally, sometimes you'llhave a reaction. So it could even be that maybe another generation like whoeverGen Z, whatever, it could be that they really are still focused on avoidingstores and that, but at some point I really wouldn't be surprised if you starthaving a generational reaction where people are like, it's back to face to faceand you can get better service in the store and things like that too. A lot ofthings are cyclical.

Elizabeth Marsten:

And that's been kind of the point with retail. Thequestion was pre pandemic, why retail? Folks were saying retail is dying.That's not true. Retail wasn't dying. It was just boring. And Steve Dennistalks about this a lot. He does the podcast Remarkable Retail and has a book ofthe same, but he talked about how traditional retailers was what's dead. Boringretail is what's dead. Immersive, personalized, experiential retail isabsolutely here. And it's awesome.

Kirk Williams:

Okay. So thinking about your conversation, Tenuity'sconversation with clients and that sort of thing, so as this is starting to godown, when were you starting to begin conversations with clients? Was it evenbefore? So March 11th was like when things really hit the fan. That was thepresidential speech. WHO, NBA shuts down, all that. March 12th, the next day,Thursday stock market tanks. As you remember that timeframe, were you allhaving conversations with clients beforehand in terms of just kind of thinkingthrough stuff? Or was it pretty much after that when everything's starting togo down where you're starting to scramble and think it through?

Elizabeth Marsten:

So are you talking about for the growth of retail mediaand like the adoption of?

Kirk Williams:

Yeah. And even maybe evolution as well. Like kind ofthinking, whoa, we might have to be... Some of this, by the way, some of thismight be expanding beyond like retail media, even, which is in terms ofindustry wide and that even retailers, like if you happen to have hadconversations with some, as far as when were they thinking of, when were theyreally like, triggering like, whoa, we're going to have to switch to curbsidepickup seriously. Stuff like that. I'm just curious to know if anyconversations, things like that were happening.

Elizabeth Marsten:

What's funny is because I do like that you judge, you usedwhen the NBA shut down as like one of your key indicators.

Kirk Williams:

It was one of the things that Americans were like, whoa,sports. Oh my goodness.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Yeah. Basically sports are closed. Well, we better takethis seriously.

Kirk Williams:

Exactly.

Elizabeth Marsten:

It was pure like I don't know during that time. There wasso many questions of do we stay open? Don't we stay open? Well, we'reessential. What's essential? How often do I have staff? They were so concernedabout how many people can be in a store at a time and do they have the staff todo it? And if the staff are protected and we didn't have testing. And soeCommerce then started to really take off because you have limited options. Iremember seeing folks stand in line at the Trader Joe's. I was Google mapstocking my local Trader Joe's to find out when in store traffic was the least,what day, and what hours, because they didn't have curbside pickup and I reallywanted to go in that Trader Joe's.

Elizabeth Marsten:

So I even took a day off to make it match to that level ofwhat do you call it, desperate. But from an eCommerce perspective, from anAmazon side, it rocketed. So to, we have a huge Amazon business and that hasmade forecasting slightly difficult. We did have some advertisers pull back ontheir advertising because of supply chain. So they didn't have the items, theycouldn't get the items, they're sitting on container ships, which is a later inthe year thing. But we didn't know that. We just knew that with China with allthose factories shut down, a lot of things just weren't coming out. And acouple of our clients were in the more like cleaning spaces or health andwellness. And we just didn't need to advertise because we couldn't keep it instock. If you sold cleaning supplies, you were doing gangbusters. So theydidn't make a lot of sense to advertise on it. So from like an agencyperspective, we got a little ding there, but it evened out, came back around.Prime Day still happened in 2020.

Kirk Williams:

Was Prime Day the one that got pushed?

Elizabeth Marsten:

October.

Kirk Williams:

Got delayed, right? Yeah. Prime Day.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Yeah. We saw it pull forward a fair amount of sales. Itwasn't the best Prime Day ever. It wasn't as big as, but it wasn't down either.So it's just one of those things, especially with Amazon, like context is soweird because everything is always up and on fire. And even if they have aslightly weaker, what we would say weaker, for Amazon earnings call orwhatever, but it's still all relative this to a year ago. Still up 300000%.Again, context.

Kirk Williams:

Yep. I was talking with someone else and he was notingAmazon too. Like part of the struggle for them was I forget the exacttimeframe, but Amazon began to focus on just essential, shipping essentialsupplies.

Elizabeth Marsten:

We couldn't get things in FBA warehouses.

Kirk Williams:

Yeah, exactly. And then, so then like some of their stuffnon-essential, although even then, so they sell like water bottles and things.I think he said one category of theirs was considered essential, one wasn't. Norhyme or reason for them in terms of like, okay, we'll take it. And so thenthat would impact because then Amazon would say, "Hey, it's going to take,oh you want this water bottle? Yeah. That'll take a month for us to shipit." So you just had some of those weird aspects in there as well, whichactually oftentimes could help support eCommerce and some of the other media,because all of sudden Amazon is not.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Ebay saw a great quarter or two there because honestly, ifyou needed hand sanitizer during that time, you didn't really care where yougot it from. If you got it from Etsy also, kick ass.

Kirk Williams:

People were making their own.

Elizabeth Marsten:

It was not a problem. If you really wanted to, you couldgo diversify on some of those things. But yeah, as a result of like across theboard for eCommerce, we saw a bump in certain categories across all thechannels.

Kirk Williams:

So you focus retail media. So I'd love to get a littlepull quote here. Can you define retail media for our listeners?

Elizabeth Marsten:

So retail media, as we see it today, is media oradvertising that is transacted via a retailer through their owned and operatedtypically. So using it a lot of times their first party data can be classifiedas being onsite or offsite or even through their social or shopping channels.But basically, we pay for the pleasure to be able to use their audiences.

Kirk Williams:

So when iOS14 hit, did you see a lot of brands reallyshift to spending more on retail media as an alternative to Facebook or not asmuch?

Elizabeth Marsten:

I think it's coming. So we haven't seen direct one to onereaction. So it was a slower role. Like we see the impact, we're keeping trackof it. It's not necessarily that they pulled the money from Facebook and thenbrought it over to retail media. It's more that the strength of the retailmedia argument became stronger. It depended entirely on how it gets fulfilled.So a lot of times with the Facebook budget, you don't want to spend yourdollars to send Facebook potential sales to anywhere, but really your D2C,because you want to try and track that. You're trying to figure out theeffectiveness.

Elizabeth Marsten:

It's like, it's pretty clean. But if you are going to dothat and you're going to move that Facebook money to anywhere else, typicallywhat happens is because we are so siloed as organizations, you only lookwithin, can I do it on something else on Facebook? Then I look at TikTok orSnapchat or Pinterest or whatever. So I'm going to stay in that kind of socialrealm. Then I start to kind of creep off to the sides in terms of like Googleshopping or Bing shopping or whatever that might be before I'm going to go andreach across to another category or another team and offer them some of my budget.No one does that.

Kirk Williams:

Yeah. Let's talk stimulus, especially like government aidand that, but you had at times cash infusion. PPP, unemployment, or likewhatever, all of that stuff. Did you notice any trends with retail media eitherspend or consumers purchasing and that around those things?

Elizabeth Marsten:

Funny, it was similar to like the cleaning supplies onAmazon. We didn't really need to advertise so much, the money showed up andthey showed up at the places whether or not that was. So we did see bumps insales, in particular for Walmart and Target. Walmart was a big winner on thestimulus packages. People bought all kinds of things. They bought like a TV ora blender, but they also, a lot of them bought essentials. They bought groceries,they bought diapers, they bought formula. And so we did see in those categoriesbumps. We did have advertising budgets trying to match. But at the same time wedidn't have to advertise as much because they knew what they wanted or needed.

Kirk Williams:

That's cool. Like just as an aside, I think that's reallycool actually that the stimulus was for a lot of people was being used forlike, that's part of the purpose of it. Essential stuff. Like we need diapers,we need formula.

Elizabeth Marsten:

It was one of those things where I saw it go out and Ithought, I hope the people that need it get it so that they can get the thingsthat they need. And we're not just buying Xbox's here. And again, it was like,if we are, we are. It's okay.

Kirk Williams:

I guess Microsoft's cap will get bigger.

Elizabeth Marsten:

They're at home and if they need something to do andthat's an Xbox, I understand. You might be interested in the types of platformor ad types within retail media. So one of the things that we can do, so retailmedia has, when we talk about it as a definition, it's an over encompassingterm to describe all of the things, all of the advertising types throughretailer. Within each of those retailers, they have developed pretty robustmenus of things that they can do. So outside of just even there's onsiteadvertising with banners and whatnot, they can be contextually targeted orcategory targeted or propensity. Sometimes they use a first party data.Sometimes it's search focus like sponsored products. They do offsite using,again, those same audiences. The offsite also usually has components forsocial. So I've run retail media campaigns using a retailer's first partyaudiences through Snapchat, through Facebook, through Instagram, throughPinterest. All of those.

Elizabeth Marsten:

The other thing that they have is they'll often have emailcapabilities as well, to be included in emails. So a couple of retailers haveautomated some of those options. SMS push notifications. The Target and HomeDepot in particular have Google shopping capabilities. So if you are a topbrand at one of those retailers, chances are you're already being included insome way in their PLA feed, because they need to show up for various productswhen someone searches for a certain drill or baby formula, whatever it is.

Elizabeth Marsten:

So you want to know that whether or not that's in stock atyour local store, or you want to add it to your online order and have itshipped to you. You can, if you're not, the products that you want included inthat sale, you're not a top brand or maybe not all the products that you wantare in there, you can work with them for either an always on or a campaignbased inclusion in Google PLA shopping. So it's interesting if you are a brandthat doesn't have a transactable website, this makes a lot of sense for you,because you can push them to the retailer of your choice.

Kirk Williams:

And did you see a lot of that shift as brick and mortarshut down as those options were available or not really?

Elizabeth Marsten:

Not really. They didn't have to. So the problem is toowith some of these larger retail media integrations with say the retailer, sothere's some self service options. So for example, Walmart now has an offwalmart.com capability with the chair desk. So we can programmatically havebanners that drive to walmart.com or to a D2C. We can do that with Kroger,Target as well. And then Walgreens just announced that capability last week. Ifyou do it on site and if you do it managed with one of the retailers, the leadtime to getting one of those campaigns off the ground is pretty intense. It canbe eight weeks. So from when you start to when the media runs, then the mediaruns, then you have to wait a certain amount of time for the attribution windowto close, and then you wait for your rap report. So you're kind of alwaysworking in the past for the future.

Kirk Williams:

That would be incredibly complicated just with basicnormal inventory issues, much less all of the other inventory things that havehappened.

Elizabeth Marsten:

We usually recommend if you're going to do one of those,you have to have pretty wide distribution like in store. Usually the reason youwould do one of those because of the minimums are pretty hefty is that you havepallets of this item sitting somewhere. You've made it, there's been a dealmade with the buyer and it's going to be in store on an end cap for two weeksor something like that. And I've seen brands even use this capability to pushonline. So you may have a larger assortment, for example, online. So I'll sayon walmart.com. Versus then you say only maybe two SKUs in store, 600 stores,something like that. But you want to show Walmart that you can move thatproduct and that the Walmart shopper is interested in that product, but youjust need to prove it. And so I've seen brands do larger media activations topush online sales, to kind of prove in store progress, so to get that physicalshelf space.

Kirk Williams:

So it's interesting. One of the people we talked to noted,a few people talked about just how much more difficult it has been withinventory. Because you might under purchase and then all of a sudden there'd bestimulus, all of a sudden there everyone's jumping in. So then especially inthe chaotic days, you just didn't really know what was going to happen. So thenyou'd end up over ordering and then you'd have a lot of stuff sitting around.So is that partial? Like have you seen that in terms of that's part of whatpeople are pushing to retail media because they are sitting on like pallets ofthis stuff? Or have you not noticed that as much, or is that maybe part ofwhat's happened in the last couple years?

Elizabeth Marsten:

Not for retail media specifically of pallets of thingssitting around. Typically, where that kind of thing happens is you're like athird party seller. So you have forecasted a certain amount of inventory. It'scome in off the boat, it's sitting in warehouses, you're sending it to your[inaudible 00:26:41] warehouse. Maybe you're using some of the third partylogistics like on the deliver network or something. And you may end up withthat problem simply from a product is you got it. And it's sitting out there ina warehouse somewhere charging you by the square foot. I didn't see as much ofthat with retail media in particular because those are the brands that tend tobe endemic to a store. So they have some kind of store relationship usually, orsome kind of designation from the store like drop ship vendors.

Elizabeth Marsten:

So they hold the inventory, it's online and they know thatthey can at least push it through some of the retail media channels. We usuallyrecommend if that's the case to at least start with sponsored products and kindof see if you can get rid of stuff there. The other place that I see folkstrying to liquidate is eBay. So if they can't move it and it's taken up spacein a warehouse and if they have a 3PL that can move it via eBay sales, they'lldo it. Otherwise it usually has to come back into their own warehouse and theyhave to pick and pack those.

Kirk Williams:

As things have been happening last couple years, we've nowhad two holiday seasons. Two Black Friday, Cyber Monday seasons. What are yourexpectations for this next one in terms of retail media?

Elizabeth Marsten:

I am expecting to see bigger budgets. Part of that has todo with the fact that the retailers now have had a couple under their belts. Sothey're able to anticipate a bit more of what's going to happen and whattraffic's going to look like. The other thing is they tend to have agreementswith brands ahead of time. So they will put in commitments or the commitmentsfor a certain amount of investment to drive sales at the retailer. I doanticipate that we will still see eCommerce be more this year than last year.And it just makes sense. It's so convenient. Do I see that we're still going tohave the exact same problems with shipping and FedEx and UPS and everything? Ohyeah. I don't think those problems went really away. And I don't think wereally came up with a good solution other than to hire more people.

Elizabeth Marsten:

We'll have to wait and see. Really when you think about,maybe what we'll see more than anything else in '23 is a deeper investment instore pickup. So that pickup, the curbside pickup enhancements probably shouldsee more retailers adapt to that. And then perhaps what I would love to see,but I don't know if it is possible where we're at is in store inventory numbersbeing more tightly aligned to what's physically in store. So one of theproblems that we've seen is, and you probably done this yourself. So let's sayyou use Instacart and you pick your retailer and you start to put your cart inand then the item it says, it's not there. But then you walk in the store andyou're like, no, it's right there. There's three of them. And so you go, okay,so the safety stock or the buffer number is five or four, something like that.

Elizabeth Marsten:

So whatever it is that they've set those numbers at it'sbecause they're not confident that the decrementation software can keep up fastenough with what is being picked off a cart. Because technically you could walkin and that could be in three people's carts physically in the store not yetchecked out. And so I get it because it's a poor user experience to be allowedto check it out, have the shopper go try and pick it, and it's not there.

Elizabeth Marsten:

I would love to see us get tighter about that though,because there's been so many times, I'm like, no, it's right there. Why did youmake me come in the store? That's the enhancement I'd like to see. I don't knowhow good we're going to get over this next year. I think Amazon's going to pushus there in an interesting way. So if you look at Amazon Fresh, they just openedtheir first walkout technology enabled store, the entire store for Whole Foodsin Washington, DC, I think it was this week. And when you think about what doyou hate about going into a store? What are the things that you hate?

Kirk Williams:

People.

Elizabeth Marsten:

People, right.

Kirk Williams:

Checking out.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Checking out. You don't want to wait in line. You don'twant to wait while they figure out something that didn't scan. You hate it whenthe thing is incorrect, you hate waiting for people to write checks. Yes, theystill do that. It's the payment processing part. You hate backtracking. Soespecially if you have a kid with you and you miss a thing and then you have towalk back down the cereal aisle again, it's pure hell.

Elizabeth Marsten:

And the time investment. What if you could go faster? Andthat's what I see with the Amazon Fresh and the just walkout technology, reallywhat it starts to do is it solves for the things we hate the most. Being inline and then trying to find the thing. Because if you don't think on the appthat they're not going to start enabling, what I'd love to see is my idea is ifyou walk by an item that's like on your list, let's say it's all synced withAlexa. You told Alexa paper towels and oranges or whatever. And you walk bythat area in the Fresh store, shouldn't your phone vibrate or something likeGoogle maps? [inaudible 00:31:39] take a left. But it would save me time.

Kirk Williams:

That's amazing. Even the issue of the safety bumper issolved. Because as soon as someone opens that door and pulls that out, likethat.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Yeah. It knows. Instant decrementality. You know.

Kirk Williams:

One for one for a safety bumper.

Elizabeth Marsten:

And you'll know if it goes in and you'll know if it leftthe store. And you'll know if somebody put it back. Actually read an articlethree years ago when they first came out with the Go, the Amazon Go stores. Oneof the reporters went in and tried to trick the machines, like did everything.Grabbed a thing, looked at it, put it back, turned it around. Just to see, andthen even went back and tried to return yogurt just to see what would happen.Seamless. That was three, four years ago.

Kirk Williams:

Interesting. Does it have weight? Like what if you tookyogurt, ate all the yogurt out, put the top back on, the exact same brand, theexact same everything, walked in the store, pull out the real one, put theother one back. So then you get to keep it.

Elizabeth Marsten:

They have cameras everywhere. But yes.

Kirk Williams:

Now I'm just going to try to figure out ways to beat thesystem.

Elizabeth Marsten:

I think they're probably anticipating a few amount ofshenanigans, which is probably why also they pilot it with like a Whole Foodsbecause it tends to be, there's a demographic that shops at Whole Foods.They're not trying to trick the yogurt machine, but also...

Kirk Williams:

The yogurt machine of all things, the yogurt machine.We've got a lot of yogurt theft.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Expand that technology when you think about just evenparts of it. When was the last time retail really blew your mind in terms of aninnovation? What was their last big innovation?

Kirk Williams:

Probably Costco as a thing is about the only innovation Ican think of, which isn't really... No, maybe Ikea. Ikea is maybe to me, likeit's just completely different than what we know.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Once they trap you in there and then they put you in thewarehouse and you get it yourself.

Kirk Williams:

Yeah, exactly. It's just different. It's not really maybeinnovative.

Elizabeth Marsten:

Innovative, I think the last big innovation we've had forretail stores like nationally, if I think about it as a big concept, is theability to take credit cards without the chip machine. Just the chip readers.The digital payment processing piece and at speed, instead of waiting for it.Remember when you used to do it and you'd wait for it to dial up?

Kirk Williams:

Yep.

Elizabeth Marsten:

I think that's probably our last big innovation.

Kirk Williams:

Maybe self checkout.

Elizabeth Marsten:

And then mobile apps maybe. Checkout via the mobile app isprobably my last big one, but I wouldn't even call that nationwide. It would bestandard practice like Stripe and PayPal and Square made it so that you can gointo a single proprietor or a chain of maybe only three stores and be able todigitally check out versus not just thinking about Walmart and their 4,600, butI think that's probably the last big industry innovation I can think of. Soretail media is probably a first party data. And the audiences, that's probablyour next big one and how we use those.

Kirk Williams:

Yep. Very interesting. That's about all. Anything elsethat comes to your mind that you want to make sure you get to say?

Elizabeth Marsten:

I would just keep in mind that while this is a very retailmedia advertising retailer type focused discussion, the thing is this, this isnew and we need people to do this work eventually. And someone is either goingto have to learn it from scratch. Someones, very many someones are going tolearn it from scratch. But I also have found as someone with a long history ineCommerce, but also paid search, that it is a very skill set. So if you arebored with Google and Facebook, or perhaps you see your budget shrinking in thenear future as I take them from you, come check out retail media. You can workat the retailer. You can work at the brand. You can work at agency. We're goingto have a lot of growth for jobs in the next few years.

Kirk Williams:

Cool. So then when they're ready to find you, what is thebest place to find you?

Elizabeth Marsten:

You can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter. So you can lookme up on LinkedIn. I don't have premium. I don't know who looks, don't care. Goahead. Stalk me all you want. You can also find me on Twitter @ebkendo. So EBKendo, and you can tweet me, DM me, whatever. I'm out there. And I'm a regularcontributor for Ad Week on retail media. So every month I write a column and mynext one is overdue. So look for it any day now.

Chris Reeves:

This has been a bonus episode of the PPC Ponderingspodcast. Keep checking back for more interviews and our next full episode. Ifyou like what you hear, please consider sharing this with your network, leavingus a review on Apple podcasts. Until next time, may the auctions be ever inyour favor.

 

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Kirk Williams
Owner & Chief Pondering Officer

Kirk is the owner of ZATO, his Paid Search & Social PPC micro-agency of experts, and has been working in Digital Marketing since 2009. His personal motto (perhaps unhealthily so), is "let's overthink this some more."  He even wrote a book recently on philosophical PPC musings that you can check out here: Ponderings of a PPC Professional.

He has been named one of the Top 25 Most Influential PPCers in the world by PPC Hero 6 years in a row (2016-2021), has written articles for many industry publications (including Shopify, Moz, PPC Hero, Search Engine Land, and Microsoft), and is a frequent guest on digital marketing podcasts and webinars.

Kirk currently resides in Billings, MT with his wife, six children, books, Trek Bikes, Taylor guitar, and little sleep.

Kirk is an avid "discusser of marketing things" on Twitter, as well as an avid conference speaker, having traveled around the world to talk about Paid Search (especially Shopping Ads).  Kirk has booked speaking engagements in London, Dublin, Sydney, Milan, NYC, Dallas, OKC, Milwaukee, and more and has been recognized through reviews as one of the Top 10 conference presentations on more than one occasion.

You can connect with Kirk on Twitter, and Linkedin, or follow his marketing song parodies on TikTok.

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