Target is in the programmatic business?

Target’s Targeted Supply

Target is putting together programmatic campaigns for brands it carries in-store by leveraging its in-house DMP in combination with DSP partners. It’s retail “audience extension” of the sort Amazon and Walmart have also dabbled in. According to Brent Rosso, VP of digital media for Target, “It’s about how you can marry the best inventory … to your data and the publishers you have relationship with, and maybe form a private marketplace.” Target just signed a demand-side deal with DBM to go along with a pre-existing MediaMath partnership, and Merkle is helping it develop an in-house trading desk.

For Target, programmatic is not an outsourced marketing functionality. With a trove of shopper data, the retail chain has developed an in-house data management platform and formed direct relationships with demand-side vendors. And now, it offers a private marketplace to supplier brands who want to run programmatic in the same fashion.

Rosso: 'We are moving towards private marketplaces.'
Rosso: ‘We are moving towards private marketplaces.’

“What we — and the whole industry — are moving towards is: Programmatic is no longer about poor inventory,” said Brent Rosso, vp of digital media for Target. “It’s about how you can marry the best inventory — of course, the definition of ‘best’ varies depending on an organization’s objectives — to your data and the publishers you have relationship with, and maybe form a private marketplace.”

And that’s the major reason why Target has been building up its in-house programmatic capabilities and rolling out its own private marketplace called “Target Guest Access” for its supplier brands since last year. The premise: Target’s digital exchange fed by the retailer’s consumer data could deliver much better return-on-investment (can provide reports to prove) than other programmatic buying options. Its competitors Walmart and Amazon also have similar media buying programs.

This year Target also tested addressable TV — in collaboration with GroupM, Dish Network and AT&T’s Direct TV — to show different households personalized ads when they were watching the same program. It ran a four-week campaign around Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, and another four-week campaign around Thanksgiving, both of which targeted Target shoppers.

Rosso declined to share more campaign details saying that “they are just small addressable TV tests and there’s nothing significant.”


Applying Target’s digital model to linear is still nascent and one biggest challenge is unlocking all of the TV data in a scalable manner, he explained.

“We have been able to connect with certain aspects of the data but it’s still a small chunk, given that there are over 10 million households,” said Rosso. “And then we have to figure the technology pipeline that allows us to actually serve the media in a real-time manner. That is still lacking.”




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