Leveraging the Shopping Soundtrack

As IAB Canada prepares for our 5th Annual Location Based Advertising event taking place on April 27, 2022, we are noticing that one area is seeing rapid development and innovation. Retail audio is on the upswing presenting an amplitude of opportunities for brands to reach customers while they are actively shopping in-store. So, in preparation for the jam-packed agenda next week, we caught up with IAB Canada member Stingray’s Ryan Fuss, SVP, Global Media Solutions, to talk about how audio is playing an increasingly important part in the location-based media space. 

IAB Canada (IABC): How does Stingray fit in to the LBA narrative? 

Stingray: Stingray powers in-store retail experiences for more than 13,000 brands around the world, including some of the biggest players in the game – think Walmart, Metro, and Dollarama. When you walk into one of our partners’ stores and find yourself nodding along to the music, that’s Stingray’s hardware installed at the location level.  

At our core, we’re about delivering curated, on-brand audio experiences for consumers while they shop. However, over the last four years, we have been exploring and innovating a new way to leverage this domestic and international retail network.  

Stingray’s proprietary streaming technology is already installed at these locations, so we’ve turned that footprint into a powerful lever for proximity-based advertising – one that lets advertisers connect with consumers at point-of-sale via dynamic, programmatic audio ads. 

The launch of this new service truly could not have come at a better time. There is a growing push for retailers to offer similar services to media companies, since the brands that sell within their four walls want to reach their customers on-site. Now, our partner retailers can derive added value from the technology they already have without any additional investment. 

IABC: What kind of data can your clients expect to leverage? 

Stingray: Prior to Stingray, there was no standardized way to measure digital audio advertising in location-based environments. As we were building out this media channel, we knew agencies would want access to verified audience data – so we got in touch with COMMB (Canadian Out-of-Home Marketing & Measurement Bureau).  

Until now, visual impressions were the only type of impression that COMMB was able to measure. So, once we pitched our concept, it kicked off a year-and-a-half-long journey that concluded with Canada’s first location-based measurement for audio in a retail environment. We call it Audio Out-of-Home, or AOOH for short. 

Our AOOH measurement leverages first-party transaction data from our retail partners, so agencies can feel confident that they’re getting trusted, credible information from the same resource they already know and trust. This is especially valuable now that cookies are going away, since brands and agencies are losing a key method for reliably tracking and measuring the success of their campaigns. 

IABC: What are some interesting use cases for audio on a hyper local level? 

Stingray: AOOH offers a huge variety of targeting capabilities that allow for strategic place-based advertising. A brand might want to isolate specific grocery, pharmacy, or superstore locations at a neighbourhood level, provincial level, or national level. They can run a campaign within a specific retailer, or they can leverage our entire network. We offer occasion-based buying and impression-based buying. Brands can even run targeted campaigns for certain holidays – think Mother’s Day or Christmas – or do hourly takeovers! It’s one of the most scalable and customizable solutions out there. 

All of this is made possible by Stingray’s exclusive partnership with Hivestack, which is a leading location-based ad server. Within our network, every single retail location and individual retailer has a unique identifier, which allows us to make highly specific targeting decisions based on an advertiser’s goals or KPIs. As a result, brands are able to close the loop on their omnichannel strategy in a whole new way.  

Our new LBA channel is serving to democratize access to the physical retail environment. AOOH has opened the door for brands to leverage their media budgets – not just their shopper marketing budgets – to reach consumers in-store, which has historically been very difficult to do. 

IABC: Tell us about how you started with the idea first and then built measurement around it to support the idea. 

Stingray: Our mission has always been to leverage our amazing retail footprint in a new way – specifically, to create a differentiated advertising business. What we realized early on was that there was simply no way to measure “ears” in location-based environments. 

So, we worked directly with brands and agencies to understand how they would prefer to buy this type of media, which ultimately led us to COMMB. At the end of the day, people want to buy retail-based digital audio advertising the same way they’ve always done it: digitally, based on impressions and CPMs, from a trusted authority. Partnering with COMMB to pioneer this methodology was the clear choice from the start. 

In practice, this means producing and dynamically inserting digital audio ads within retail stores’ communication and music systems. The algorithm calculates average hourly impressions per day based on first-party transaction data, as well as venue-specific dwell data.  

While this offering is still quite new for us, each of our AOOH deployments has been a resounding success, and we have some incredible partnership announcements on the horizon. Stay tuned. 

IAB Canada would like to thank Stingray for sharing valuable perspective on out of home audio advertising. Join us next week to explore other developments in the location-based advertising base.