Kroger Precision Marketing’s In-House Ad Platform Finesses Customer Experience

Kroger Precision Marketing launched an in-house self-serve ad platform to optimize the customer experience and expand its retail media service portfolio. 

Kroger Precision Marketing made waves in the ad tech industry as a pioneer in retail media. And, they are determined to expand their  impact further. 

Last week, Kroger’s retail media operation announced the  launch of an in-house self-service ad platform. The platform was designed to ease advertisers’ ability to activate, measure and optimize their campaigns and improve their customers’ overall experience. 

But that’s just the beginning. Plans are in motion to expand the platform’s capabilities to service their entire retail media service portfolio which means a more unified marketing strategy for brands. We spoke with Michael Schuh, VP of Media Strategy at KPM, to understand the origins of the new platform, how they put consumers’ needs first and plans for future-proofing their ad platform. 

Andrew Byrd: What motivated Kroger to develop its proprietary self-service ad platform?

Michael Schuh: We created the in-house ad platform because we’re obsessed with optimizing the customer experience. We designed our diverse portfolio of ad products to help brands engage with our customers no matter how they consume media. We’ve been on a journey for five and a half years since launching KPM. 

Our parent organization at 84.51°, the data science company of Kroger, gave us an incredible foundation of data science that we’re excited to deploy on our platform. It will improve the content that our customers see when they visit or the Kroger app. The scale and speed with which we can deploy that data science to improve customer experiences will only increase as we build in-house capabilities versus leveraging third-party partners.  

AB: Regarding creating a great consumer experience, the ad tech industry is in a privacy reckoning. How are you thinking about that when creating the ad platform? I know that with your retail media network, you have plenty of customer first-party data. Still, I’m curious how you deal with transparency and privacy protection concerning your customer data. 

MS: We built our ad platform to be consumer-first. We empower and encourage our customers to make informed choices about whether they wish to receive tailored ads and personalized offers. We provide clear information about how customers can opt out of such advertising. Most customers feel that personalized offers and fuel points make their shopping easier. That’s why our loyalty program has a high participation rate: 96% of Kroger sales are connected to loyalty accounts.  

AB: Can you explain how advertisers create and launch campaigns on Kroger’s ad platform?

MS: As a self-service advertising platform, advertisers will have lots of flexibility to control the process. Initial capabilities will allow clients to: 

  • Reach relevant audiences using search-based insights and custom ad groups.
  • Design, iterate, and activate creative messages within the platform.
  • Customize and save multiple creative templates by brand and product.
  • Optimize all campaign elements, including budgets, messaging, and flighting.
  • Build reports and boost performance against deterministic retail data – including sales lift, household penetration, and unit lift.  

The new platform will also pave the way for greater interoperability with other media activation and management software. Advertisers using third-party management tools like Pacvue and Skai will still manage inventory through those platforms.

We’ll own the platform and deploy capabilities like data science, onsite inventory, and new inventory types. We will then surface new capabilities to help brands activate across our entire suite of ad products.

We’ll start to onboard existing clients over the next couple of months. We’ll have beta clients on the platform within the next 60 days or so. Then we’ll move to our full launch. We’re already working on features and functionality to enhance the platform. We will connect with third-party bid management platforms – like Pacvue and Skai – to help brands buy across onsite display and search.

AB: What are the future plans for Kroger’s self-service ad platform? Are there any upcoming features or expansions on the horizon?

MS: As part of this first release, we will maintain our relationship with bid management platforms like Skai and Pacvue. We’ll continue to innovate with partners to enhance our suite of metrics. Part of the reason advertisers are investing in retail media is because of the ability to close the loop and improve performance. It is not limited to performance metrics. We can also show how a campaign drove new buyers or category share. The new platform will increase how we optimize these metrics. 

Retail media is not just about setting the campaign and forgetting it. This platform will enable brands to see real-time data and optimize between different ad placements, creative types, or products. The result is a better customer experience with the brand content.