The ultimate goal of all media campaigns is to grow the sales of the products advertised and yet, over one hundred years since John Wanamaker reportedly said “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”, brands are still taking a lot of educated guesses when it comes to allocating spend on shopper media formats. Given their proximity to the point of purchase and, by extension, their primary objective of driving sales in an identified store, shopper media formats should arguably be among the most measurable of media formats. As things currently stand, however, the ability to compare the effectiveness of the range of different options across different retail outlets is practically non-existent.
Of course, there are some measures in place which tell us different things and can guide investment in shopper media. Some proximity retail media formats used to target shoppers are covered by the Outdoor Media Association’s JNOR research, which provides metrics such as audience reach, frequency and visibility adjusted contact, and enables advertisers to evaluate formats on a cost per thousand basis. While this information is certainly valuable and, in the absence of other data, seems a sensible way to allocate budget there are issues with relying solely on it. JNOR has been developed for the entire Out of Home advertising sector and provides a robust basis for allocating wider OOH spend. However, only certain proximity retail media formats such as retail 6-sheets are covered by JNOR, meaning many of the new and innovative shopper media formats launched by media owners in recent years, and those formats operated by retailers themselves, cannot be compared against these traditional formats on these metrics.
Secondly, while metrics such as reach and CPM are certainly important, they are not an indicator of sales effectiveness, and the closer you get to the point of purchase, the more weighting needs to be given to this. Relying on metrics such as reach and CPM may not lead to the most effective formats, in terms of sales increase or ROI, being chosen. Using a crude example to illustrate the point, is it wiser to spend a €20K budget on a format that covers 100 stores reaching 1 million shoppers per cycle and increases sales by €20K or to spend it on a format that only covers 75 stores, reaching 750,000 shoppers but increases sales by €40K? The increased influence of media audits in recent years has also intensified the need to justify spend based on cost discounts but these audits are built on a fundamentally flawed rationale that lower cost = better value, with discounts achieved mattering most, and scant regard for how a format actually performs.