The opportunities of retail media

Retail media is red hot these days, enjoying 27% YoY growth. According to eMarketer, advertisers spent an eye-popping $23.92 billion in 2021 in the U.S. alone. This year, retail media advertising will go as high as $41.37 billion in 2022.

Source: eMarketer

It’s no surprise that advertisers are investing more in retail media; it makes sense on a lot of levels. Let’s take a look.

First, what is retail media exactly? Web properties like,, and Amazon are more than mere ecommerce sites; they’re robust marketplaces that attract hundreds of millions of consumers each year.

Consumers visit these sites when they want to:

  • Research products
  • Make an actual purchase

For brands, retail media presents ideal opportunities to introduce new prospects to their products, and to influence their buying decisions. In other words, retail media is terrific for both awareness and performance campaigns.

The impact of privacy regulations + browser restrictions

By now you’re probably tired of reading about privacy regulations and the death of the cookie, but the truth is, marketers will need a new way to reach and engage consumers. Retail media is a great alternative. Why?

Traditionally, consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies have relied on third-party retailers to sell their products directly to consumers. Retail partners were the ones to collect the consumer’s first-party data, not the product manufacturer itself. As third-party cookie tracking goes away, brands without vast pools of first-party data are at a disadvantage.

Enter retail media. These big retailers know a great deal about their customers, and can help brands target shoppers who are likely to be interested in a specific brand or product. What’s more, they have developed sophisticated tools and audience segments to help brands home in on their ideal consumers.

All brands offer multiple ad options, including display ads and sponsored products.

What’s more, when brands advertise on a retail media site, they can use first-party data to measure the success of their campaigns. The retailer can provide reports that tell marketers the number of customers they’ve reached, and whether or not those customers went on to convert.

Retail media advertising platforms

Retailers offer more than inventory, however. Many now offer the technology brands need to reach target users. For instance, Target’s digital ad platform, Roundel, partnered with an ad exchange to offer programmatic advertising, and has rolled out an attribution tool that’s available to marketers who spend $75,000 over a six-week period.

Walmart Connect and Lowe’s One Roof Media Network offer similar functionality.

Don’t miss out

Many say that retail media will become the dominant advertising channel for advertisers, thanks to the abundant availability of first-party data for targeting purposes, along with the ability to reach consumers who are actively researching products and forming opinions about brands and measure campaign effectiveness.

Should your brand include retail media as part of your media budget? A large number of consumers rely on retail media to learn about products. If you’re not there, those consumers may never have a chance to learn about your brand. Get in touch – we’ll be happy to discuss with you further.

Author:Sarah Chapman

Date:14th February 2022


Best practices for onboarding outsourcing partners

Are you considering outsourcing ad ops to Paragon Digital Services? Smart move. Your teams can use their time to focus on more high value, strategic activities, such as finding new business and growing your revenue.

What’s more, you can rest assured that your ad ops are in good hands. Paragon’s teams are extremely detail oriented and process driven. We’ll focus on the technical nuts and bolts of your campaigns – tracking down creatives, site tagging and set-up, testing and optimization, real-time reporting and analytics – so you won’t need to.

When working with an outsourcing partner, it’s important to remember that you’re asking someone else to step into your shoes, and to succeed, Paragon needs to know every detail of that experience. When we onboard a client, we immerse ourselves in the minutiae of your business process, systems, and systems documentation.

Whether you’re a media agency, publisher, tech platform or brand that’s seeking to in-house media execution, we follow a three-phased approach to onboarding new clients in a highly process-driven way.

Phase 1: Understand your systems and business processes

The first phase focuses on understanding the systems and the business processes that are in place. We need to learn your ad-tech stack inside and out, so that we can expertly execute and troubleshoot your campaigns.

Phase 2: Understand business documentation and fill in gaps

Once we have a strong handle on your systems and processes, we work on achieving a comprehensive understanding of the business documentation that supports all the work done within those systems. To do that, we’ll review all of your system documentation so that we can create tools based on it. We’ll also identify and fill any gaps that pertain to business processes associated with your campaign KPIs.

Phase 3: Practice runs

Once we have our ducks in order, we’ll conduct multiple campaigns in your systems and against your business processes and campaign KPIs. We then ask you to evaluate our work with a highly critical eye. We won’t take over a client’s work until we’re 100% accurate.

(Don’t worry about this phase taking forever. We’re far from novices, and we typically get this accurate in short order.)

What we ask from our clients

What do we need from you to succeed? We ask that you provide us access to your business systems, and to train us on the processes you want us to follow once we assume responsibility for your ad ops. We also need to see all documentation, and to provide guidance on filling in any gaps we may identify.

Get in touch to learn how we can help you transform your ad ops.

Author:Sarah Chapman

Date:22nd September 2021


What is ROAS and how should you measure it?

What is ROAS, and how should you measure it?

As a marketer you’ve likely been given a set of business goals that you’re charged with achieving, whether that’s acquiring new customers, prompting existing customers to buy more frequently or encourage them to try new products in an adjacent category.

Regardless of your objectives for the coming year one thing is certain: your success will be measured based on real business outcomes … units moved, revenue generated, loyalty program sign ups. One thing the c-suite won’t be impressed with is a slide that boasts high CTR or a low CPA if your other, truly business-oriented targets have been missed.

The solution? Return on ad spend (ROAS) will help you focus your efforts in media and tactics that drive business results.

CTR: Just one hand clapping

I’d hate to sound like a cynic, but CTR alone isn’t a very useful metric. In fact, it’s rather self serving. It confirms that a specific piece of technology — an ad server or DSP — did what it was supposed to do, namely present an ad to a consumer. But did it ultimately lead to an actual sale or sign-up.

But what does CTR really tell you? To hear pundits tell it, it is an indication of interest. If a consumer clicked on an ad it’s an irrefutable indication that he or she is interested in your brand, right?

Except that as consumers we all know that’s not the case. I accidentally clicked on an ad for a company that sells cutesy tee-shirts and mugs with specific breeds of dogs on them. The idea is that I can opt to have representations of all my pets printed on an item. I don’t do cutesy, even though I do have pets. The ads continue to follow me around the Internet, sadly wasting the marketer’s budget on a consumer who will never convert.

There isn’t a consumer anywhere in the world who hasn’t accidentally clicked on an ad, especially on a mobile device with a small screen. Some estimate that up to half or more clicks are accidental, which begs the question: how meaningful is an ROAS that’s calculated using a suspect number?

This is where return on ad spend (ROAS) is useful. ROAS typically ties back to some combination of cost you incurred for showing an ad to a customer (CPM), along with the click-through rate (CTR) or cost-per-action (CPA). By calculating your ROAS, you can identify which channels and publications deliver the best results for your business, thereby allowing you to home in on the most responsive audiences and eliminate waste in your media plan.

Another option is to calculate ROAS based on specific actions taken, or CPA. But the key here is to ensure that it’s a meaningful action, such as signing up for a newsletter or following a brand on Instagram. These actions set the stage for building a relationship with the customer, and can ultimately lead to conversions and potentially a strong lifetime value. (These actions are also fully GDPR and CCPA-compliant as the consumer has chosen to raise his or her hand to say, “I’m interested”).

By calculating and understanding your ROAS, you will be in a position to understand which channels and tactics actually move the needle for your company or product, whether that’s new app installs that deliver active users, or incremental sales or subscriptions. Ultimately, it can help you design campaigns that are outcome driven, enabling prospects who are new to your brand discover what you have to offer, and build loyalty. In other words, success is in the campaign details.

To find out more about how bespoke ad ops outsourcing can boost your business, get in touch.

Author:Sarah Chapman

Date:3rd March 2021


What is ISO 9001:2015 / ISO 27001 and why should you care?

We’re ISO certified. But what is it? And why should you care? ISO has multiple families of certifications; we’re certified in information security management (ISO/IEC 27001) and quality management (ISO 9000).

You may have also noticed that Paragon is unique in this certification. If other agencies aren’t certified, why should we go to the bother of taking four weeks out of the year to undertake an exhaustive certification process? The answer is twofold.

First, we are strongly committed to ensuring the safety and security of any and all data we touch and store on behalf of our clients, as GDPR, CCPA and other emerging regulations demand.

Second, ISO 9001:2015 lays out principles for ensuring the quality of services offered by vendors like Paragon Digital, and quality has always been a paramount goal of ours.

What is ISO 9001:2015 exactly?

It’s a set of principles and requirements, laid out by the International Organizations for Standardization, that organizations must follow when developing a quality management system. The principles are designed for an organization that: (to quote the ISO in full):

  • “needs to demonstrate its ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, and
  • aims to enhance customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, including processes for improvement of the system and the assurance of conformity to customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.”

ISO / IEC 27001 data security compliance

Let’s start with the first bullet: the need to demonstrate that products and services meet all compliance regulations worldwide.

When most people think of GDPR and CCPA, they think about the need to request and store consent from consumers in order to use cookies. But both regulations also address data security in fundamental ways. If any entity collects consumer data of any kind, that entity must ensure that the consumer won’t be harmed as a result of a data breach or some other issue.

Moreover, both GDPR and CCPA put the onus of ensuring compliance on the actual brand (aka the “controller”). Specifically,  GDPR Article 24 states that “the controller shall implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure and to be able to demonstrate that processing is performed in accordance with this Regulation.” Recital 74 further explains that the controller is responsible and liable for processing done on its behalf by a third party.

CCPA is built on California’s “agency law,” which says that any action taken by an agent acting on your behalf is your responsibility.

The bottom line: if you engage a third party to execute a campaign or some other marketing or customer care initiative, you are responsible for the actions of that third party. As Richy Glassberg, one of the co-founders of the IAB warned recently, vendor compliance is a gaping hole privacy compliance as most brand managers are unaware of their responsibility under both GDPR and CCPA.

This is why our certification is so important. Our ISO 9001:2015 certification provides our clients with the assurance they need that Paragon’s processes for handling consumer data complies with state-of-the-art practices and current regulations, and that they’ve been certified by an outside auditor.

Quality management

The quality management certification ensures we have the processes in place to “enhance customer satisfaction” and to “demonstrate conformity to specified quality management system requirements.”

In other words, when Paragon takes on work on behalf of clients, quality is front and center. Our high level of quality stems from the vast experience and expertise of our teams, of course. But it’s also enhanced by our strict adherence to the best practices laid out in the ISO principles.

The difficult task of meeting ISO certification requirements

It isn’t easy to achieve ISO certification as the requirements are quite stringent, encompassing people, processes, technology and even how physical workspaces are organized (for instance, our teams are physically separated per ISO requirements, and sensitive areas require biometric access).

Central to certification are annual audits by a third-party auditor. It typically takes the auditor four weeks to verify that every box is checked, and omitting even a single, seemingly minor requirement jeopardizes a successful certification.

After four years of audits and certification, Paragon has built a robust discipline, infrastructure and internal compliance and training team around the ISO principles, and it has become a way of life for our organization. All of our workflows – from the simplest task for a client to fulfilling a role they’ve handed off to us – are executed with these quality principles in mind.

When combined with our deep industry expertise, our clients are assured that the services they receive from Paragon are of the highest possible quality.

Peace of mind for clients in competitive industries

One final reason why ISO / IEC 27001 certification is important to us: clients in highly competitive industries want assurance that their data will never end up in the hands of their competitor, or will benefit a competitor in any way. Certification guarantees cross-company data sharing won’t ever occur – a process that is backed up by audited and accountable infrastructure.

At some point, your compliance team will ask if all of the third parties you work with are compliant with GDPR and CCPA. Answering for Paragon Digital Services will be easy for you, thanks to our ISO 9001: 2015 certification.

To find out more about how bespoke ad ops outsourcing can boost your business, get in touch.

Author:Sarah Chapman

Date:26th January 2021