Brands and retailers aren’t known for sharing data with each other, whether it’s for competitive reasons or for lack of collaborative tools, it can be hard for brands to understand what happens in stores.
Marketers are the most impacted by this lack of visibility, after all if they don’t know what’s selling or what’s in-stock how can they plan budgets, create campaigns, and optimize media?
A lot of progress has been made in recent years to give marketers access to timely, actionable information, but not all solutions are equal. Looking back at where the industry started, we compare recent solutions launched by Nielsen, Omnicom, and Hyphen.
Understanding What Happens in Stores
The concept of store-specific data was born in 1990, but people were curious about understanding what was happening in stores way before that. Nielsen was one of the pioneers in this field and started manually auditing stores as early as the 1930s.
When auditing stores, Nielsen was looking for two distinct types of data: retail sales data and consumer-specific data. The former would tell them how much of a specific product was sold, and what factors existed at the time that might have caused those sales (ads, discounts, etc), while the latter provided information about who bought the product.
As revolutionary as this information was in the 90’s, the process of collecting and communicating the data to retail brands in a timely manner was still lacking. It would take weeks for manufacturers to get access to store-level data and by then the information would become obsolete. It would take years before store-level data would be available in real-time.
Using Retail Data to Manually Inform Media
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated and exacerbated supply chain issues around the world and made store-specific data very relevant once again. In quick succession, two retail monitoring solutions were launched to help brands educate media decisions.
Nielsen came out with the On-Shelf Availability Barometer, a predictive algorithm paired with store-specific data that would help retail brands predict the location and timing of future out-of-stocks. At this point store-specific data wasn’t revolutionary, it had been available in different flavors since the 1930s but because of the predictive abilities, Nielsen was able to offer a refreshed solution that would reduce a lot of guesswork and counteract the worst of the supply chain issues. However, it did little in the way of reducing manual labor for marketers.
Following the same trend, Omnicom then announced in May 2022 the launch of their supply chain IQ score, a tool intended to inform media spend using product inventory data , but the optimization falls short. The feature still requires manual labor and constant vigilance from media planners to adjust media bids, update creatives, and turn ads off.
The real innovation –automating media optimization based on real-time store specific data– is still missing from a lot of the big players’ offerings.Joe Murthy, VP of Products, The Stable, Part of Accenture Song
Automate Media Optimization Using Real-Time Inventory Data
In 2022, Hyphen launched TrueStock, the first out-of-stock solution that automates media based on retail product inventory. Using API connections to Walmart, Target and Walgreens, TrueStock pulls retail data daily to automate and maximize media performance.
With TrueStock, media managers can establish bid adjustment settings at the beginning of a campaign and let our engine automatically shuffle budgets to in-stock regions. To prevent out-of-stock situations from occurring, Hyphen gives clients the option to pre-select backup items that will be served in lieu of the out-of-stock products or use TrueStock to automatically turn ads off when products run out.
But that’s not all. Because everyone suffers from out-of-stock, TrueStock can also be an acquisition tool for brands. Through direct integrations with all major retailers, TrueStock can scan stores down to the zip-code level to identify when and where competitors are out-of-stock and help conquest up to 5 specific items (from competitors).
By leveraging our out-of-stock solution, brands not only ensure they deliver a seamless shopping experience, after 30+ years of having access to retail data they are finally able to automate part of the media optimization process, save media dollars that would have otherwise been wasted and turn a weakness into a strength.
Hyphen is a leading media solution that helps multichannel brands convert online shoppers and deliver a seamless shopping experience from ads to checkout. Our customizable, mobile-first shoppable landing page provides retail brands access to a digital shelf where consumers can browse and add-to-cart a curated selection of in-stock products. Using first-party data collected on Hyphen, we help brands maximize their media dollars by retargeting shoppers and creating high converting lookalike audiences. Now equipped with TrueStock, we are adding another layer of optimization to our technology to ensure brands never advertise out-of-stock products.