Walgreens bolsters retail media network with self-serve programmatic, clean room

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Walgreens Advertising Group announced on Feb. 15 that it will launch self-serve programmatic and clean room offerings, per a press release.
  • Launching broadly in the second quarter, the self-serve programmatic solution will let brand advertisers target consumers by using the retailer’s first-party data on their preferred demand-side platform (DSP) and can be accessed through The Trade Desk or OpenX, with more connections to come.
  • A clean room powered by Epsilon will allow advertisers to measure customer overlap while protecting data privacy, a priority as retailers look to bolster their media networks amid their data’s growing importance to advertisers.

Dive Insight:

Walgreens continues to build out its retail media network, a late entry into the space that launched in December 2020. With self-serve programmatic and clean-room solutions, the retailer seeks to make running campaigns on its network easier and more privacy-friendly for advertisers looking to tap into Walgreens’ wealth of data about its customers, which spans 95 million rewards members and roughly 1 billion daily customer touch points, per the press release.

“We’re excited to bring our advertising clients more flexibility in managing the reach and frequency of campaigns on their preferred DSP, while dually building a better consumer experience through more relevant and optimized advertising,” Luke Kigel, vice president of Walgreens integrated media and head of Walgreens Advertising Group, said in the press release.

Advertisers can access the self-serve solution through The Trade Desk and OpenX, with other connections to be added in the future. The connection between WAG and The Trade Desk uses closed-loop reporting, allowing advertisers to tie campaign performance to sales data and optimize their campaigns in real time. The Trade Desk also strips audiences of directly identifiable information, a protection of customer privacy that Walgreens said led to the firm’s selection. The Trade Desk last year selected IPG’s Kinesso and Acxiom to act as closed-loop operators for its Unified ID 2.0 cookie alternative.

The launch of an Epsilon-powered clean room comes as companies look to anonymize, aggregate and match their first-party data with that of their partners amid the looming deprecation of third-party cookies. Advertisers’ data-related spending on identity, analytics, measurement and attribution surpassed $29 billion in 2021 and could grow another 13% this year, per a report by Winterberry Group.

Walgreens has previously added services to make its retail media network more attractive to advertisers as it looks to differentiate the service from those of its competitors. WAG in May 2021 rolled out new capabilities around television and first-party data, offering brands the ability to reach consumers via OTT, CTV and linear TV across 100 apps and 10 supply-side platforms and collaborating with OpenAP to allow brands to use its data as part of TV buys.

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