Walgreens' Luke Kigel with the Lowdown on Retail Media Networks

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Cover image for  article: Walgreens' Luke Kigel with the Lowdown on Retail Media Networks

Luke Kigel is Vice President, Walgreens Media and Head of Walgreens Advertising Group, and a featured speaker at the upcoming 2022 ANA Media Conference, March 2-4 in Orlando, FL. ANA's Senior Vice President Mark Stewart recently caught up with Luke (pictured above) for a pre-conference interview.

Mark Stewart: Luke, how do you define a Retail Media Network?

Luke Kigel: As I see it, there is a difference between the current state general perception of Retail Media Networks and the future state evolution of the role of retailers in media. For most, a Retail Media Network is an extension of "Shopper Marketing" driven largely by the ability to target, place ads on a retailer's owned digital assets and directly measure outcomes, is often seen as another walled garden. The broader and perhaps more future-forward view is that Retail Media is simply just media, and not placed in a tactical box. It's a partnership between brand and retailer that enables delivery of personalized experiences and drives overall media effectiveness -- powered by direct customer relationships (1st party data) that inform end-to-end insights to activation and closed-loop measurement.

Stewart: Where in the purchase funnel do RMNs fit?

Kigel: In a world of collapsed purchase funnels and personalized purchase journeys, I think we need to think less about putting RMNs in one place in the journey and think more about the role of a retailer across the entire purchase journey. With changes in behavior, consumers are engaging with retailers on a near continuous basis. RMNs provide a unique opportunity to understand the earliest signals of brand interest all the way through the moment of conversion. Retailers can employ customer insights to predict those who have not yet even begun to consider, research or shop as well as the opportunity to instigate browsing. The opportunity really lies in brands creatively partnering with retailers to understand consumer insights and build a plan that helps nurture customers along their full, personalized journey.

Stewart: What budgets are typically being tapped into to fund RMN programs?

Kigel: Most funding for RMNs still comes from Shopper Marketing budgets, with many RMNs saying they aspire to access national budgets. These are industry constructs that limit the value potential of a brand-retailer relationship and reinforce a more traditional and outdated purchase funnel. It doesn't reflect how consumers actually discover, engage and shop brands and products. Consumers don't see a difference between "brand" and "shopper" -- they are fluidly moving through their journey, in their own individualized way. There's an opportunity for brands to disrupt legacy budgeting practices and enable fluidity and agility to best meet their consumers where they are, as that evolves in real time for each individual person.

Stewart: What best practices are you seeing from retailers, advertisers or both that result in highly effective programs and partnerships?

Kigel: We are seeing the most effective partnerships emerging from strategic collaboration to build audiences that deliver on business objectives throughout the consumer journey. We often find brands engaging via downstream RFP processes or on a limited basis centered around where the budget is coming from -- brand vs. shopper. Ultimately, we see the best partnerships emerge when we move further upstream and are open to disrupting those traditional planning practices to identify the right audiences and moments to intersect together.

Stewart: What do you see as the biggest misconceptions advertisers have of RMNs?

Kigel: I touched on it in the last question, but I believe the biggest misconception is that RMNs are only a lower funnel or conversion tactic, rather than seeing the retailer as a core element of their personalized media. Retailers truly have the ability to unlock deep insights and full-funnel connections that are relevant, personalized and engaging. But, to do that, we need to partner at a strategic level that transcends existing buckets of spend and even job functions.

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