ShopConnect Enables Complete Omnichannel Planning Capabilities

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Cover image for  article: ShopConnect Enables  Complete Omnichannel Planning Capabilities

In a time of media and data fragmentation, the ability to streamline the consumer journey across a range of location points and align it with planning/buying platforms takes on a greater urgency. So, the recent launch of ShopConnect, a partnership between agencies Assembly and Talon, and sell-side programmatic platform Place Exchange, is especially noteworthy. ShopConnect, billed as, “a first-of-its-kind planning tool,” by Assembly essentially marries programmatic buying with digital out-of-home (DOOH).

“One of the things that agency planners and buyers really crave is a connected commerce solution and that's what this tool helps solve. What makes it magical is that it seamlessly integrates all retail digital out of home with the rest of the omnichannel strategies for retail clients,” explained Andrea Montano, Assembly’s Executive Vice President, Insights & Connections.

Jonathan Conway, Talon’s US Chief Operating Officer, noted that the idea for ShopConnect, “has been in gestation for a while. We were developing a way to leverage existing datasets, resources and planning techniques to make them an integral part of Assembly's process while being accessible and intuitive for the Assembly team.”

Data, of course, is the crucible of this effort. ShopConnect’s data origination and normalization is, according to Conway, “a question that we tackle continuously for our business. We have to manage lots of different data sets and technologies and include information about brick-and-mortar locations, places of business across the United States, where people are spending money, where businesses exist and data sets about inventory.” This is all in addition to, “the other assets of inventory such as the ad shape, size, capabilities and creative that they support. All of that information sits inside the system with audience data which comes in many forms.”

Tracking involves a range of methodologies from journey signals and, as Conway noted, “behaviors from surveys or location data that comes off of mobile devices which helps us build a macro level understanding of how people move around the real world and which ads they're seeing. You then know whether they're visiting key locations. We model and combine all of that data and create an intuitive interface over it so that you can start to field, plan and create campaigns and leverage all those data points.”

An important aspect of ShopConnect is that it connects out of home with programmatic platforms. For Montano, “You need to think about the audience first and be able to have precision targeting the same way we do with the rest of our omnichannel mix. For example, I was looking at grocery store data and we were told that in certain markets there was an abundance of new movers. Using the longitude latitude of the stores, I overlaid where was an over index of new movers. We then built a radius around the stores – shopping and driving - which were different by store, and said, okay, I can't put digital out of home everywhere but maybe I can connect to certain neighborhoods where we see a propensity of new movers. Then our programmatic teams pulled it through our DSP, connecting that same targeting to other display advertising that's happening locally.”

Conway added, “The goal is to enable the Assembly teams to explore, understand and garner insights and when it comes to building and optimizing a campaign, to activate through their omnichannel DSP and apply all the targeting and expertise that they have across other channels into the digital out of home space as well.” Notably all of this is achieved in real time, involving, “billions of available impressions and hundreds of thousands of screens one can activate against and optimize in real-time.”

Montano offered that the data can be analyzed by demographics, psychographics, geography and specialized segmentation. “In the example of the grocery stores, beyond broad demographics, we can break it down to Spanish speaking neighborhoods (for example) which adds a very much local feel to it,” she explained, “One of the other categories I feel is underserved in a lot of planning tools is B2B. This tool has B2B targeting in it such as decision makers.”

Conway added, “We also have the ability to bring in behavioral data, segments that the Assembly team is creating and even first party segments.”

ShopConnect’s advantage of having the flexibility to hyper target the consumer journey within a programmatic framework cannot be understated. “85% of retail sales in America still happen in a physical location,” Conway asserted. “That means that for out of home, the ability to message people and talk about your brand when they're on the way to and inside retail locations influences purchases. That's huge and is crucial.” Interestingly, the saviors of brick and mortar, according to Montano are Gen Z. “Believe it or not, Gen Z loves shopping and going to malls. There's been a resurgence in mall traffic and a real desire to have real life experiences. It means they still value human interaction.”

For Montano, “Measurement has been a big conversation with clients as well as trying to minimize waste. Besides the buying precision, the messaging precision helps to make sure we have zero to limited waste, which has been a big piece of feedback from clients so far and creative teams.”

The next step in ShopConnect’s journey is to ramp up education of the platform and champion its capabilities. “It's all about education right now. Agency planners and buyers need to adapt and change by creating new behaviors in how they think strategically about retail media. I’ve often been asked, ‘what's the minimum investment needed to test.’ There's no minimum. We can scale it as small or as large as you want. Use it, understand it and leverage everything it has to offer,” Montano concluded.

Photo courtesy of Talon.

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