How Are Retail Brands Adapting to Change?

April 13, 2020

Like many industries, retailers have been forced to shift focus and priorities to adapt to a world dominated by online shopping—at least for the foreseeable future. Without a physical presence during this difficult time, retailers are offering special perks or coupons to incentivize a digital shopping experience. In fact, an increasing number of the top 100 retailers are offering free shipping or reducing their minimum purchase threshold. As a result of these changes, we’ve seen online shoppers who understand the current climate and are willing to put up with longer delivery windows

With all of this in mind, we’re working diligently to ensure our retail clients are able to effectively and efficiently pivot strategies in order to provide the most relevant messaging for consumers during these uncertain times across Connected TV (CTV) and second-screen devices. To that extent, we recently connected with our Head of Retail and VP of Sales, Stephanie Scheper, to get a better sense of the obstacles retail advertisers are facing, and how to best solve for these challenges during this time of uncertainty.

Steph scheper

What is the number one challenge that retail advertisers have presented to you over the past month or so?

Given the closure of many brick and mortar locations globally, brands must quickly pivot to update messaging to reflect to-go offerings, as well as delivery and contactless services. Creative spots take months to produce (not to mention close social working proximities to film, direct and edit); these commercials are being shelved whether it be due to lack of inventory availability, or cancellation of the tentpole they were meant to surround.

Across the board, brands are finding innovative ways to accommodate their customers in these demanding times. The Home Depot is a great example of a retailer getting it right: hitting the ground quickly to revise spring messaging and address their solution appropriately. Their new “Here to Help” initiative touts their mobile app and how to access products via free delivery and BOPIS (buy online pickup in store). These technologies have been a priority for the brand in the past few years, and it’s never been a more appropriate time to make that front and center creatively.

How have you been able to work with these advertisers to solve that challenge?

Working hand-in-hand with our in-house Creative Studio, we’ve nimbly helped brands create new assets and upgrade existing assets to reach consumers with empathy and understanding and distribute at scale on CTV devices. For example, we’re working with a brand to update their messaging to convey new services during these demanding times, and we’re tasked with a very short window to turn everything around.

What strategies should retail advertisers be incorporating into their video efforts to reassure their consumers during these challenging times?

Addressing the situation by listening closely to what their customers are saying and how they’re feeling. Many advertisers have retracted previously planned messaging to ensure they are considerate and appropriate. Communicate how your company is approaching the supply chain and return policies with greater transparency. Aligning with the right message and tone can go a long way for consumers paying more attention than ever to how their favorite brands handle this unconventional time. 

What is the best approach to reaching shoppers who are mostly confined to their homes right now?

It’s no surprise consumers are turning to digital devices to communicate, shop and be entertained. As marketers look to ensure every advertising dollar is spent wisely, it’s essential to revisit media allocations as consumption habits change and evolve (even if it’s only temporary). 

We’re seeing CTV as the biggest opportunity to take advantage of homebound consumers spending more time streaming – whether watching new original, or tried and true favorites.

You mention the rise of CTV. Can you talk a little bit more about the trends that you’re seeing in the space?

As much of the country is staying home, binge watching is at an all-time high. According to Nielsen, there’s been an 85% increase in streaming TV consumption over the first three weeks of March. Disney+ just released their subscriber numbers—achieving 50 million in five months—nearly hitting their low estimate of their five-year subscription goal. 

COVID has accelerated a streaming boom we were already experiencing, and it’s encouraging advertisers previously hesitant to dip their toes into CTV. I also believe it is going to eradicate the tolerance for “upfronts” and “immovable budgets.” Compared to traditional TV, CTV is easier to activate, scalable, more targeted, and just as effective. As brands see results, there is no turning back.

Are there other innovative ways to reach homebound TV viewers?

We’ve worked with Alphonso to craft solutions using ACR technology so that brands can “own the living room,” by sequentially retargeting viewers with cause-based messaging. Competitive conquesting continues to be a primary tactic as it ensures brands protect, maintain and even grow market share.

Additionally, we’ve noticed a recent uptick of users checking their phones and devices minute-by-minute for updates and news. Not only can we help brands capture these viewing segments across all screens, we can extend their reach through premium news outlets like CBS News, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and other sites.

What does the short-term future look like for video advertising, specifically for retail brands?

The good news is these retailers are not going away. I believe brands will continue to evolve their business to meet the demands of our vast digital world and the shifting consumer behaviors that go along with it. In our business, we’re always tasked with adjusting to rapid changes. So, while we are dealing with more severe circumstances at the moment, a lot of this is nothing new. 

As we continue to learn more and more about the impact of consumer behavior in this “new norm,” most companies will likely need to test and refine messaging and video strategies to ensure they’re reaching consumers with the right tone and frequency. And that’s where we come in and we’re committed to helping brands navigate these unique challenges.  

Learn more about how we can help customize video for your retail brand.