There’s a coffee shop down the street that has become part of Sarah Travis’s morning routine. When she walks in the door, she’s greeted by name and the baristas start brewing her favorite drink before she’s even at the counter. They know she has a sweet tooth, so they often have a warm pastry ready to go with her order. She pays with a swipe of her phone, earning a few more loyalty points that can be used during her next visit.
As president of Roundel, Target’s retail media business, Sarah and her team look to recreate that neighborhood coffee shop feeling for Target guests, in partnership with some of the world’s best-known brands. To learn how her team builds those relationships and fuels a billion-dollar business for Target, we asked Sarah to share more about the magic behind Roundel.
Welcome, Sarah! What exactly is “retail media”?
It’s a great question as it’s easy to get caught up with industry buzzwords when talking about this work. The simplest way to describe retail media — and specifically Roundel — is that we’re the bridge between Target guests and their favorite brands. We ensure that when a brand wants to promote its products, it can reach the right people with the right message at the right time — all in a way that enhances our guests’ experience. Think: a parent seeing an ad with all the ingredients for a fun, budget-friendly family game night, or a dog owner receiving a promotion for $5 off their favorite pet food brand, or a college student getting a deal on their dorm room essentials.
How does Roundel know what will resonate with guests?
The work starts with knowing our guests really well. We stay closely tied to all the ways people interact with Target — in stores, on our website, in our app and on social media. For example, we know two-thirds of guests use the Target app or visit Target.com while shopping in store. These types of insights help us understand what guests want out of their Target run, which is where we step in to connect the dots between what brands are hoping to sell and what our guests are looking to buy. This approach creates a more meaningful shopping experience for our guests as they’re able to easily find items that reflect their interests and preferences.
Is retail media new for Target?
Target was actually one of the first retailers to launch a retail media business more than 15 years ago. When I joined Roundel in 2021, I was excited to build on the business’s strong foundation and develop new capabilities, expand our team and more fully integrate retail media into how guests experience Target. Today, Roundel is a more than $1 billion business that has grown more than 60% over the last two years, allowing us to invest even more into an experience that is carefully curated for our guests.
When we say curated, we mean Target’s retail media business combines our guests’ biggest needs with the way they shop to ensure the brands they’re interacting with at any given moment just click.
What do you mean by “curated?”
When we say curated, we mean Target’s retail media business combines our guests’ biggest needs with the way they shop to ensure the brands they’re interacting with at any given moment just click. A great example is how we lean into seasonal moments: Over the next few weeks, families will be thinking about Halloween candy and Thanksgiving gatherings, and we’ll be there to help match guests with deals and product recommendations that speak to their specific needs.
What makes this level of attention possible is the way Roundel works with teams across Target to bring these campaign moments to life. A few examples include our merchandising team, which has the pulse on what guests are buying and what trends are taking hold. Then there’s our team who manages Target’s loyalty program, Target Circle, which has built trusted relationships with millions of members and can guide us on what those guests want most from Target. Our design team is a creative powerhouse that works with brands to craft imagery and advertising that is uniquely Target. And our digital and stores teams are where inspiration and execution meet as campaigns are rolled out across our omnichannel experience.
What’s next for Roundel and retail media at Target?
So much! I’m excited about the investments we’re making to make it easier for guests to find and buy brands they love. For example, we’re enhancing our Connected TV by Roundel offering that allows guests to add products directly to their shopping cart using QR codes they see while watching ads on their favorite streaming service.
We also want to make it even easier for brands to meet Target guests where they are, which is why we’ve expanded the roster of publishers available through Programmatic by Roundel to include premier outlets like The New York Times, AMC Networks, Hearst properties and more. We’ve also built Roundel Media Studio, a one-stop shop for partners to plan, activate and measure their retail media campaigns with the right tools and features. We’ve started to introduce brands to Roundel Media Studio and are planning to launch in early 2024.
And with the holidays coming up, stay tuned for some really fun in-store experiences that capture the magic of the season and make it easy for guests to shop and save on their favorite brands while discovering some new favorites, too.
Retail media is a dynamic industry, and our team is energized by the opportunities in front of us. The best is yet to come as we grow and find new ways to delight our guests and help brands build meaningful relationships with their biggest fans.