Kroger’s new self-service ad platform: What you need to know

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Kroger’s new self-service ad platform: What you need to know


Kroger is breaking away from Microsoft to take its advertising platform – Kroger Precision Marketing – in-house.

The new system, which the grocer has spent the last year working on, is currently in beta but all marketers are set to transition in the fall.

Why we care. With 2,700 stores across 35 states, Kroger is the largest supermarket chain in the US and has historically worked with more than 2,000 brands. Marketers that launched campaigns using the old ads platform noted it was “clunky” and unnecessarily time-consuming as they were forced to navigate multiple systems to get a campaign live. The new platform, however, acts as a one-stop shop where marketers can both get their ads live and access data, meaning they can make informed decisions faster to potentially get a better ROI.

“It wasn’t a decision we took lightly because Microsoft has been a great partner,” Dan Mayer, VP, Media Platform, Kroger Precision Marketing at 84.51˚, told Search Engine Land. “But this new platform gives [marketers] more control and the ability to act on data and insights much more quickly – we’re excited for that.”

Highlights. The new platform will provide marketers with the power 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.

Although Kroger is excited to roll out its new ad platform, Mayer emphasized that the system will always be a “work in progress” and that the team is looking forward to hearing feedback from clients.

  • “The media space is incredibly dynamic so there is lots more to come. We want to continue to enhance its features and functionalities,” Mayer said.

Read on for highlights from my recent Q&A with Mayer for more details around Kroger’s new self-service ad platform.

Kroger’s ‘biggest pain point’

Marketers had been submitting feedback to Kroger about the interface of its old platform, explaining it was unnecessarily time-consuming to get a campaign live.

  • “One of the biggest pain points was the creative of it.
  • “Targeted onsite ads in particular was a bit of a disjointed experience because the campaign process started in one spot but you’d have to jump out to build that creative in another spot – and then you’d have to come back in again!
  • “The current state is a little clunky if I’m being honest. There are multiple systems [marketers] have to navigate to get a campaign live. We needed to somehow bring that one experience into one platform.”

Taking back control

For Kroger, addressing marketers’ biggest pain point resulted in it taking the tough decision to move away from Microsoft and creating an in-house self-service ad platform, so that its team of scientists could provide real-time data for more control.

  • “We like to think we have a healthy obsession with our customer experience and optimizing that experience.
  • “[Going in-house] gives us more direct control over that experience as it allows us to offer our data insights and science much more seamlessly and quickly.
  • “We now own the roadmap, we own the decision on priority and what we can get into production and when, whereas in the past we depended on partners to bring that stuff to market.
  • “With our new platform, [marketers] can now come directly to us through a single entry point and stay contained within that platform. You’re not bouncing out onto other platforms to execute campaigns.”

Verdict from marketers so far…

Although the new platform is still in beta and it’s very early days, Kroger has already started collecting feedback.

  • “The feedback from marketers so far has been relief because of how we’ve simplified the process for them.
  • “Marketers seem to appreciate the ease of use now – especially when it comes to setting up and activating campaigns.
  • “They’re also excited by the science we’re bringing to them – and how much more quickly. We’ve successfully deployed science previously but now that is a much quicker process and advertisers can see the benefit of that in the form of increased performance of their campaigns.
  • “But when we were making this platform, there were certainly points at which we thought we had everything covered then we’d go and test it and we realized oh we’ve missed that so we’ve got to add a component of a feature. So I’m excited to get more feedback from our advertisers because this is a work in progress.”

Next steps

Kroger’s new ad platform won’t be rolled out to all marketers until the fall, however, the company is already looking to next year and beyond.

  • “We’ll have all advertisers coming over by the end of the year and we’ll be open to the feedback they have to give as we continue to enhance the features and functionalities.
  • “Marketers will be able to give feedback on the ad platform.
  • “We will also continue to build the platform out across our other advertising experiences across our off site portfolio later this year and into next year.
  • “We’re not reporting revenue or our financial goals at the time, but we expect to continue to rapidly grow. Watch this space!”

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