The Evolution of Retail Media: Insights from Kroger’s Jill Smith

In the fast-paced world of retail media, where strategies are constantly evolving, it’s crucial for brands to stay up to date. Jill Smith, VP of Sales at Kroger Precision Marketing, stands as an industry leader at the forefront of this evolution. Her approach challenges traditional notions of retail media and instead focuses on scaling advertising efforts, the role of retail data in expanding retail media networks (RMNs), and the power of relevance. These insights are particularly timely as we head into the holiday season, a period when strategic marketing can make or break annual sales goals.

Think of retail media as a layer, not simply as a channel 

In her interview with Beet TV’s leadership series, “Why Relevance Rules in eCommerce,” Smith emphasizes the importance of distinguishing two key aspects of retail media: as a channel for owned and operated platforms, and as a layer when integrated with offsite placements using retail data. “People sometimes think about retail media as its own separate channel,” says Smith. “When we think about Kroger’s owned and operated channels and sites, that could be a channel where we offer search and onsite display.”

On the other hand, when targeting consumers offsite, Smith encourages retailers to expand their notion of RMNs from channel to layer. By treating retail media as a layer, brands can integrate retail data more effectively into their broader marketing campaigns, including partnering with highly relevant non-endemic advertisers, thereby enhancing their reach and relevance.

Reduce ad waste by going beyond personalization to relevance

Personalization and relevance are often used interchangeably, but they represent distinct concepts with varying implications for consumer engagement. Personalization entails tailoring content to an individual based on known demographics. It seeks to create a customized experience for each consumer, often relying on data points such as purchase history or browsing activity.

By contrast, relevance goes beyond mere personalization by focusing on the context and timing of the message, cross-purchase behaviors, and unique tastes and interests. A relevant offer is not only personalized to the individual but also delivered at a moment when it is most likely to resonate with the recipient.

This is where retail data, particularly first-party data, plays a pivotal role. By leveraging insights gleaned from their own customer interactions, brands can craft offers that speak directly to the individual’s interests and preferences and are highly relevant in the moment. Whether it’s a complementary product recommendation or a special discount on a future purchase, these tailored messages are more likely to engage and convert. 

Smith notes, “What we have found is, when you use retail data as compared to third-party data, you can use 51% fewer ad impressions to achieve the same sales results.” This statistic underscores the efficiency and effectiveness of leveraging first-party retail data to target consumers more precisely on a 1:1 level. By focusing on relevance, brands can reduce ad waste and improve the sustainability of their marketing efforts.  

Plan your holiday campaigns now to maximize ROI with retail data

As we approach the holiday season, Smith highlights the importance of early and strategic planning using retail data. “We’re working with our clients and understanding, for holiday this season, who do you need to win with? What are those households that you need to be talking to in order to ensure you have a successful holiday season?” she explains.

Identifying target households and aligning marketing strategies well in advance can significantly boost holiday sales performance. This proactive approach allows brands to tailor their creative and messaging to resonate with the right audiences, maximizing their impact during this critical shopping period.

 Extend your retail media network with Rokt

Rokt enhances the retail media experience by focusing on the transaction moment—during and after checkout. The transaction moment captures the attention of customers when they are in a buying mindset and most receptive to new offers and messages.  This is where Rokt’s technology truly shines, generating significant incremental revenue for brands by capitalizing on this crucial part of the ecommerce journey. 

Leading retail media solutions weren’t built to maximize the post-purchase experience –– for the retailer or the customer. By integrating seamlessly with existing retail media networks, Rokt  optimizes the post-purchase experience, transforming what was once an overlooked part of the customer journey into a revenue opportunity.

Our solutions leverage advanced machine learning algorithms to deliver highly relevant offers and messages to consumers at the most relevant moments. 

As we move into a future dominated by e-commerce, staying ahead of  RMN trends will be key to sustained success. Rokt’s innovative solutions enhance these efforts, allowing brands to make the most of every transaction moment.


To learn more about how Rokt can uplevel your retail media strategy, visit our retail media page.