Four tips for implementing a cross-platform ad strategy

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Nearly every brand has faced enormous disruption to the ways they reach consumers during the past year. A typical consumable CPG brand may have previously experienced 5% of total sales online and 90% in store. Now, as e-commerce approaches 20% of total commerce, the stakes have grown much higher. There is a sense of urgency around creating a cohesive cross-platform strategy to manage surging e-commerce retailer platforms.

Ben Winters

As we see a rise of retail media networks designed by major retailers to deliver a targeted, personalized experience to shoppers, we’re seeing more companies invest increased resources toward it. Knowing an ad budget is not infinite, below are four tips drug store brands should consider when implementing a cross-platform advertising strategy.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to ad spending. When you think about it, ad spend is like a fashion trend: There are many ways to wear it, and it’s always changing. For instance, in 2018 and 2019, we saw many brands shift their ad dollars away from Google and Facebook toward Amazon and other retail platforms. Many brands have also taken funds away from television advertising and out of home (OOH) advertising as well. We started experiencing this shift 18 to 24 months ago when marketers could present data to clients about actual conversion rates, which Facebook couldn’t do. For many brands, it became fiscally irresponsible not to migrate some spending. Then came the question, what do I do now?

From the perspective of a brand, why wouldn’t you allocate your ad dollars towards a platform that provides tools for the entire funnel and can also offer you actual sales data resulting from your investment?

Since then, brands have seen incredible success driven from advertising on Amazon, and coupled with the e-commerce boom, CMOs and other C-level executives are looking for ways to diversify risk while capitalizing on market opportunity.

Brand manufacturers have been swarming to take part in the growing number of retail advertising platforms — specifically, Amazon, Walmart, Target and Instacart. By maximizing their options, brands are well positioned to thrive and see more conversion compared to relying on one platform.

Automate decision making

Although there are more advertising options than ever before, e-commerce campaigns are very difficult to manage when systems and data are disparate. For brands looking to manage e-commerce campaigns at scale and across multiple retail advertising platforms, it’s critical they have visibility into their data and the ability to translate those insights into automated programs that can grow and pivot in real time.

One way to use automation for ad spending is by using automated bidding. This tactic can provide smart-logic that automatically increases or decreases campaign bids based on a brand’s specific performance logic. This feature automates key financial decisions across campaigns to enable speed and scale, saving time and effort for brands to maximize success.

Know your platforms

Keep in mind that not all platforms operate the same way. Knowing this, it’s important to evaluate the nuances for each retailer’s advertising platform. For instance, “negative targeting” on Amazon filters out search phrases that include your search term with unrelated search terms, like making sure your bid for “brush” doesn’t show up when a customer searches “toothbrush.” On the contrary, doesn’t allow out-of-category advertising at all, and a brand can’t win an ad slot if they aren’t already on the first few pages of search results. Instacart offers high-performing targeting that is unique to over-the-counter products and consumables, such as “buy it again.”

While brands are constantly taught to “know their customer,” it’s equally important that they know and understand each platform they’re advertising on. After researching how each organization manages their advertising, brands can ultimately choose the one that works best for them.

Use Customer Search Groups

Customer Search Groups (CSGs) are a breakthrough way to identify and measure “categories” on retail advertising platforms. Specifically, they are related, high-traffic keywords relevant to specific products. These groups can be used to help drug store brands understand the search term strategies needed to identify shopper profiles within their potential customers and dominate a product category.

Today, brands can use these to see which brands are winning the top placements for their CSGs and who’s winning on the digital shelf so they can strategically compete and rise to the top. The insights also allow brands to understand customer needs and behavior, target winnable key words, develop relevant content, and measure progress.

Advertising budgets are like a pie: There are many ways to slice it. Fortunately, there are various ways O-T-C brands can divide and conquer their budgets to create an unbreakable strategy. The key: Don’t have it all in one sitting.

A cross-platform approach to advertising will help brands reach their full potential as e-commerce continues to dominate consumer spending and shopping habits. However, with all of these options available, it can be difficult to manage staffing and strategy.

I expect that in the future, we’ll see another company create an overarching platform that manages all these brands. Until then, using a cross-platform approach now will help brands reap the benefits.

Ben Winters is chief innovation officer at Ideoclick. He can be contacted at



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