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The 2021 Tinuiti Live Commerce Recap: How to Conquer the New World of Connected Retail

[This blog post was authored by Shannon Mullery, Emily Sullivan, and Tara Johnson of Tinuiti]

Thought leaders and top performance-based brands gathered on Thursday for Tinuiti’s Live virtual event. If you were not able to attend, “Tinuiti Live Commerce” is a half-day, complimentary online event designed to help marketers conquer the new world of retail commerce by charting out the bigger picture and connecting all the dots.

Today, brands need to rethink every single aspect of their marketing to reach their audience with immersive, measurable experiences. Brands cannot be thinking about where they want to be tomorrow, but where they want to be five years from now.

This year, the event featured nearly a dozen sessions on how to navigate emerging marketplaces, streaming and OTT, analytics, performance creative, data privacy and more, featuring big name experts from Instacart, Walmart Connect, Sony, ViaComCBS, Champion Sports, Big Commerce, Amazon as well as our own internal advertising teams at Tinuiti.

Dalton Dorne, Chief Marketing Officer at Tinuiti kicked off the event with valuable insights from her experience as a top executive.


“The future is here and it is yours for the taking. Ecommerce grew 17% this year on top of the huge growth we saw in the space in 2020. It has been a truly transformational time for our industry. Today, our sessions are designed to focus on the big shifts and how you as marketers can connect all the dots.”

– Dalton Dorne, Chief Marketing Officer at Tinuiti

According to Dorne, the way of the future for all advertisers involves a partnership between brand and performance marketing.

“Tinuiti believes brand and performance have become one. Brand marketing without performance marketing is like planting the seeds and walking away. And performance marketing without brand marketing is like trying to harvest a dry, barren field. You need both.”

In the following recap we cover each session, including both keynote speakers for the event.

Beyond the Technology: Consumer Connection in a Digital Environment

Ken Hughes | Leading Consumer, Shopper Behavioralist; CX Strategist & Keynote Speaker

Ken Hughes delivered an engaging, high-energy keynote that centered on the importance of connecting with your consumers, reminding us that retail commerce is ultimately “about selling product and service through hopes and dreams.” 

Hughes notes that, particularly following a very isolating pandemic, consumers are yearning for attachment, and “we need to own the space of connection.” Referencing a quote from Lauren Bacall, he explains why standing still in a rapidly changing world is the same as moving backwards; brands can’t afford to continue doing business as they’ve historically done and expect the same results—they have to take action. 

We have to connect with consumers in ways that mean something to them, and make sense to them, which naturally changes over time. 

He gave the analogy of the change in how we access/buy music, from the physical records and cassettes of the past, to the streaming services of today. There are serious consequences to taking your eyes off relevance. If you don’t answer for it, customers will find someone who does. 

The fundamental change is that today, everything has to revolve around consumers themselves; products now come to us, not us to them—from cars (ie. Uber) to braces (ie. SmileDirectClub) to eyeglasses (ie. Warby Parker) to prospective partners (dating apps) to food and beer delivery to…you get the idea! 

Hughes notes that the underlying change to all of this is that: 

“Most people’s interactions now are digital-first, physical-second, and that offers huge opportunity for all the brands and businesses listening today—understanding that the digital connection is so important.”

— Ken Hughes, Leading Consumer, Shopper Behavioralist; CX Strategist & Keynote Speaker

Hughes explores 4 key values necessary for winning the digital relevance war:

  1. Exceed customer expectations, not just reaching customer satisfaction, but striving for delight, engagement and empowerment
  2. Connect with authenticity. Consumers want “realness;” we need to give people a story they can share
  3. Get personal with your shopper. You are up against every personal experience they’ve had with other brands; we need to use the data we have to get more personal with consumers and make them feel they belong to the brand and service
  4. Emotional engagement; “you have to make someone feel something.” 

Hughes wraps up his keynote by explaining the emotional engagement ladder, a must-watch walkthrough!

The Myth of Performance Marketing and The New Challenger Brand Playbook for Driving Enduring Growth

John Denny | VP eCommerce CAVU Venture Partners

Are you optimizing yourself out of effectiveness or hitting a demand ceiling? In this session, John Denny covers everything you need to know about creating future demand to drive sustainable growth for your business. Denny explains how many brands over-rely on performance advertising and completely forget about, or question, if they really need brand marketing (hint hint: you do). He reports on what he’s hearing out in the industry and how many people think marketing is just a money-in and money-out kind of machine.

He covers a story he’s seen play out time and time again. A brand starts out with an innovative idea and grows at an exceptional rate with a focus on the bottom-funnel money machine. He describes how the brand sees success in the early years, then attempts a 2-3 week upper funnel activation. The brand doesn’t see an immediate return on investment so they shut the campaign down…. then sales flatline. 

This is where brand marketing comes in to create future demand.

Denny’s keynote session highlights an easy-to-follow playbook covering four principles that challenger brands are using to capture existing demand and to reach new customers for long-term success. 

Topics covered:

“Converting existing demand and creating future demand are both critical to sustained growth. They are compatible and should happen concurrently, but they require different marketing approaches…to build future demand you must be talking to people even before they shop.”

– John Denny | VP eCommerce CAVU Venture Partners

The Future State of Amazon

Pat Petriello | Director of Amazon Strategy, Tinuiti

Amazon is no longer just about conversions. It’s about building brands. Brand building on Amazon is crucial for managing customer engagement and goes beyond advertising. This session is a deep dive into how marketers can align their brand story across Amazon and beyond to all paid media efforts. 

Topics covered:

“Short story here, CPCs across all ad types including Sponsored Ads, Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and Sponsored Display, and across all verticals have been increasing, and in the future they are going to continue to do so. What you’re seeing in this report is the average CPC for Sponsored Product ads rose 33% YOY in Q2. And the average CPC of Sponsored Brands ads rose 26% during that same period. That’s the highest growth period that we’ve seen in those two ad types in the last year,” Petriello says.

“The upshot here is the value of advertising on Amazon is also increasing. Especially for those brands who are able to understand the interplay between paid and earned media opportunities. That dynamic between paid and earned media – that’s precisely what we’ve been obsessing over here at Tinuiti and doing for our brand clients.”

Petriello also gave a sneak peek into the value of Amazon Posts and how brands can leverage this latest feature to improve brand awareness.

Example of Amazon Posts

“The simplest way to look at this is Posts are Amazon’s version of Instagram. What’s changed about posts and what can make them even more valuable moving forward is that they can now be scheduled to support product launches, brand campaigns, and other social initiatives. So, instead of saying I have to set up a post and launch right now – you can build posts and set them to run in the future,” Petriello says.

“Keep in mind those rising click costs, we touched on earlier. Amazon Posts are free incremental traffic, every marketer’s dream phrase. So, one easy takeaway that you can do right now is to log into to your ad console, see how many brand followers you have . You can find this information in either the Stores or the Posts section. A good place to start is you should have at least 5,000 brand followers.”

Driving Brand Consideration with OTT Advertising on the Amazon DSP

Maddie Kaseeska | Associate Director of Marketplace Programmatic, Tinuiti
Karen Hopkins | Strategist, Programmatic, Tinuiti

This session explores how brands can utilize Amazon’s DSP for an upper-funnel tactic: driving consideration through video (OTT). Kaseeska kicks things off by explaining the DSP consumer journey triangle, and which Amazon advertising strategies best align with reaching shoppers at each level of that journey. 

Kaseeska explained what makes Amazon’s DSP so powerful for all brands:

“One advantage is the fact that we can leverage Amazon’s exclusive, first-party insights and audiences. This allows us to leverage billions of observed shopping patterns that we can then leverage to predict future buying patterns. And as patterns evolve and grow, we’re able to target new customers who fall into the targeting audiences that best align with our brand, category, and campaign goals.”

— Maddie Kaseeska, Associate Director of Marketplace Programmatic, Tinuiti

Kaseeska adds that these precise targeting options also enable us to build cross-device campaigns to reach Amazon shoppers at scale, on and off-site. 

Hopkins explores the advantages of running Amazon’s OTT offering to bridge the gap between awareness and consideration by providing the right creative asset at the right time.  

“OTT ads are compelling, they’re eye-catching, and they allow advertisers the ability to scale their reach, and really showcase their brand. OTT ads are full-screen with sound, non-skippable, and have an average completion rate of 97%.”

— Karen Hopkins, Strategist, Programmatic, Tinuiti

Topics covered:

The 360° Growth Approach to Achieve Long-Term Amazon Sales Growth

Phil Stolt | SVP, Retail Operations, Tinuiti
Zachary Meller | Executive VP & Chief Strategy Officer, Champion Sports

In this session, Ex-Amazonian and Tinuiti’s SVP Retail Operations, Phil Stolt shares four pillars to Amazon success including foundational operations, inventory management, and more. Stolt explains the specific pillars Tinuiti focuses on for full end-to-end channel management vs. an a-la-carte approach. While advertising and marketing are crucial parts of a successful Amazon strategy, they aren’t the only aspects businesses should focus on. Stolt covers why companies need to also put a strong focus on the backend of their Amazon businesses. 

He also sits down with Zachary Meller, Executive VP & Chief Strategy Officer at Champion Sports to discuss Champion’s strategy when it comes to selling on Amazon and some of the biggest changes and adaptations they’ve had to make in order to increase growth and relevancy on the platform.

Topics covered:

“When asked how to be successful on Amazon, the number one thing I recommend is to find consultants. Find experts in this regard because prior to signing on with Tinuiti, the grand scope and the complexity of managing an Amazon business internally was overwhelming. There’s a learning curve with the processes, acronyms, and Amazon systems. The knowledge needed to fully optimize your Amazon business can’t be learned through trial and error. This end-to-end channel management is super important for us and everyone at Tinuiti speaks the language, solves these problems, and develops strategies.” – Zachary Meller | Executive VP & Chief Strategy Officer, Champion Sports

Sponsored Display and Amazon DSP: Amazon Advertising’s Display Products Together

Nii Ahene | Chief Strategy Officer, Tinuiti
Aby Angilivelil | Director, Global Partner Development at Amazon Advertising

Tinuiti’s Nii Ahene and Amazon Advertising’s Aby Angilivelil explore anything and everything you’d want to know about Sponsored Display and Amazon DSP during this Q&A session. Angilivelil covers real-world examples of products and how advertisers can utilize Sponsored Display and DSP to further target potential customers. When asked how an advertiser would use Sponsored Display as part of their strategy, Angilivelil highlighted that… 

“If you’re an advertiser selling your products on Amazon, you’re likely looking to build your business and your brand on Amazon, and Sponsored Display allows you to do both. Sponsored Display compliments Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands. You can help inspire shoppers to consider your brand on the Amazon homepage, consider buying multiple products from your brand on Amazon pages, or discover your brand off Amazon.”

– Aby Angilivelil | Director, Global Partner Development at Amazon Advertising

Topics covered:

“Advertisers who utilize both Sponsored Display and DSP have seen promising results. Based on a 2021 analysis of more than 900 brands across nine categories, we found that using Amazon DSP and Sponsored Display together resulted in a 15% increase in new to brand customers and a 7% increase in sales compared to campaigns that used only one of the display products.” – Aby Angilivelil | Director, Global Partner Development at Amazon Advertising

The Future of Walmart’s Omni-Channel Advantage

Stuart Clay | Associate Director, Marketplace Strategic Services, Tinuiti
Scott Spaulding | Head of Agency & Ad-Tech Partnerships, Walmart Connect

Clay and Spaulding explored the growing opportunities the Walmart Marketplace holds for sellers, covering recommended strategies, what you can expect next from Walmart, why the time to act is now, and more.

This session began with a look into how Walmart is leveraging their omnichannel ad solutions to reach the right customer at the right time in their journey, and stand out in a rapidly advancing—and increasingly competitive—retail media landscape.

Topics covered included:

“This partnership empowers marketers to deliver more relevant ad experiences to connect with your customers at every step on their path to purchase, and accountable results so you can close the loop on media spend and sales at Walmart stores online. Walmart DSP will allow advertisers to leverage their brands’ first-party data, and combine it with Walmart first-party data and select third-party data, to build specific audience segments to deliver hyper-relevant messaging to their customers.” 

—Scott Spaulding, Head of Agency & Ad-Tech Partnerships, Walmart Connect

Spaulding discussed Walmart’s “winning formula,” centered on customer reach, data, omni measurement, and speed, as well as Walmart’s focus on automation to “deliver reach and results in a way only Walmart can.” 

“Data is the cornerstone of our formula. We’re leveraging data assets from across the enterprise, and marrying them together through new offerings.”

—Scott Spaulding, Head of Agency & Ad-Tech Partnerships, Walmart Connect

Instacart Fireside Chat: A Sneak Peek at What’s Cooking

Elizabeth Marsten | Senior Director, Strategic Marketplace Services, Tinuiti
Suzanne Skop | Head of Agency Partnerships, Instacart

In this live Q&A, Tinuiti’s Elizabeth Marsten and Instacart’s Suzanne Skop serve up hot tips, advice, and all the consumer insights you need to know if you’re looking to advertise on Instacart. During the session, Skop describes the incredible growth Instacart saw back in 2020 and how it’s stuck around throughout 2021.

Their conversation covers evolving consumer expectations as well as how Instacart has seen increased user adoption outside of just grocery pick-ups (yes, this even includes your last-minute Halloween costume needs). Skop hones in on how Instacart aims to have a diversified selection of retailers and what to expect as an advertiser in 2022 and beyond. 

Topics covered:

“Advertising interest is growing and there are a ton of opportunities for brands to participate. The eCommerce world really levels the playing field for emerging brands so they have just as good of a chance to get to the top of the digital shelf as the top 25 CPG brands.” – Suzanne Skop | Head of Agency Partnerships, Instacart

The Biggest Screen in the House: Bringing the Clarity of Performance to Non-Click-Based Media

Jesse Math| VP, Advanced TV & Video Solutions, Tinuiti
Kaitlyn Caimano| Chief Investment Officer, Bliss Point Media
David Futterman| VP, Digital Ad Sales – Performance Media, ViacomCBS

Math, Caimano, and Futterman bring their expertise to the table to explain the current and evolving state of the streaming space, a bit of history on how we got here, what we’re doing in this space today (and how)—and importantly—why streaming advertising is too important to ignore. 

Topics covered focused on:

Math began his dive into video landscape dynamics with some definitions, explaining how streaming video services are distinguished between SVOD (subscription video on demand), TVOD (transactional video on demand), and AVOD (ad-supported video on demand). Those ad-supported services include some of the most recognizable names in streaming, including Hulu, Sling, and Roku, just to name a few. 

Math also explains exactly where OTT sits within the streaming landscape, and why it has been named as the highest priority channel of 2021 by 57% of U.S. digital marketers

“We often get the question: “Is OTT right for my brand; should my brand try OTT?” That question has now shifted to: “How is my brand going to make OTT and the streaming landscape work for us?” There is no world where the channel isn’t right for the brand anymore. The consumer has evolved how they consume media, and we as marketers have to evolve along with our consumers.”

— Jesse Math, VP, Advanced TV & Video Solutions, Tinuiti

Does that mean that no one is watching traditional TV these days? Not exactly. In fact, traditional TV still takes the lead when considering all media in time spent. But that number alone doesn’t tell a full picture, because older adults typically spend the most time watching traditional TV. If you only consider the total watching hours—and not who is doing the watching—you minimize how important streaming advertising is for reaching younger audiences. 

Following Math’s overview of the evolving landscape, Kaitlyn Caimano dove into how we approach that landscape at Tinuiti. Spoiler alert: it starts with measurement.

Caimano explains how our graph-based streaming measurement, with 1:1 attribution across devices, allows us to gauge performance based on predefined KPIs (key performance indicators).

“When an impression is served, we log several digital identifiers about the impression destination. We have access to that same type of digital identifier within our clients’ data. Then, we leverage our graph-based technology to identify matches. Our ability to conduct this type of high-precision measurement—essentially connect an impression served to the outcome that we care about—allows for material scale within this channel.”

Kaitlyn Caimano, Chief Investment Officer, Bliss Point Media

David Futterman from ViacomCBS closed out the session, offering firsthand insights into how the network is using mergers and acquisitions “to unleash the power of streaming video.”

“When Viacom, Pluto, and CBS merged, it was our goal to deliver premium content to the most sought-after consumers in an easily accessible manner. And it was crucial to allow our marketers to seamlessly tap into this incredibly valuable audience.”

  — David Futterman, VP, Digital Ad Sales – Performance Media, ViacomCBS

Futterman explains ViacomCBS is achieving these goals by offering premium content, consumer choice, and recently, EyeQ Video.

This can’t-miss session is packed with unique insights and information. If you’re considering diving into streaming advertising, or ramping up existing efforts, be sure to add this one to your watch list.

Brand, Budgets & Buzzwords: Where is my Next Best Dollar Opportunity? + Fireside Chat with Sony’s Maya Wasserman

Nancy-lee McLaughlin | Senior Director, Search & Enterprise, Tinuiti
Maya Wasserman | Head of Marketing / Director of Marketing Communications, Sony

To start the session, Tinuiti’s Nancy-lee McLaughlin covers the importance of testing, scaling, and budgeting in retail media. She helps us understand where businesses can put their next best marketing dollar and where and when to diversify marketplaces. Are you curious which marketplaces are winning the current market share? You’re in luck. McLaughlin also covers the most recent trends in the three verticals of grocery, mass beauty, and consumer electronics. When discussing testing new platforms, McLaughlin shares the following advice…

“Ensure you have defined a purpose and goal prior to investing in a new-to-you platform. This is of the utmost importance as different marketplaces may play different roles in your overall strategy.”

– Nancy-lee McLaughlin | Senior Director, Search & Enterprise, Tinuiti

To wrap up the session, McLaughlin sits down with Sony’s Maya Wasserman to discuss their recipe for testing marketplaces which includes evaluating market share, setting KPIs, the importance of in-store and online connectedness, and so much more.

When covering how important it is to test and learn along the way, Wasserman shared Sony’s approach.

“We are very data-driven and everything we do has to have a KPI associated with it. ROAS is only one point in the picture and it’s not always even the most important one. People can get very focused on ROAS but especially in the testing and trying phase, there’s a lot of learnings and KPIs that could make more sense.”

– Maya Wasserman | Head of Marketing / Director of Marketing Communications, Sony

Topics covered: 

“We are definitely seeing a major digital transformation across retailers and everyone is investing heavily in growing their eCommerce business. They are really starting to roll out new features and opportunities and we want to test and understand these platforms so we can grow our business with them and grow our eCommerce business as well.” – Maya Wasserman | Head of Marketing / Director of Marketing Communications, Sony

Unlocking Omnichannel Growth with the Ultimate Architecture

Sharon Gee | Vice President, Revenue Growth – GM of Omnichannel, BigCommerce

BigCommerce’s VP, GM of Omnichannel discusses how Commerce platforms are partnering with Ads, Marketplace and Social Commerce platforms such as Google, Facebook, TikTok, Amazon, eBay, and Walmart, as well as listing, advertising, operations, and fulfillment partners to help merchants (small, medium and enterprise) develop their solution architecture that drives revenue growth, increasing channel performance, by delivering on shopper expectations, across channels.

Topics covered:

“We know as stewards of the omnichannel growth ecosystem, we are at an inflection point where the digital channel is being redefined. Our goal as we enter this era of commerce where privacy issues are a concern and third party pixels and data is changing – the most valuable thing the Big Commerce platform can offer is not just traffic and conversions on a branded storefront [although that’s extremely important] but the ability to maximize sales via other third party channels.” – Sharon Gee | Vice President, Revenue Growth – GM of Omnichannel, BigCommerce

Future of Retail Media

 Elizabeth Marsten| Senior Director, Marketplace Services, Tinuiti

Marsten gives a comprehensive overview of the incredible growth retail media has experienced over the past two years, including the 2020 retail media explosion, and her predictions for what we can expect next in the space.

Topics covered include:

Marsten explains that when you reach customers on an app like Instacart, those shoppers are already in the consideration bucket when your ad is first seen.  

“They had to go to—very consciously, or open the app—the geography had to be selected, a store has to be selected, and then the user begins their journey. They’re not just browsing at this point; some decisions have been made, some plans are happening. We’re either out of ice and beer, or we need the groceries for next week, or we can’t get to Costco. What we have to do for the future is take a look at those connections, and understand how we’re going to account for them, because those are very valuable partners.”  

— Elizabeth Marsten, Senior Director, Marketplace Services, Tinuiti

Closing Remarks + Hot Takes

Katen Johal | SVP, Business Development, Tinuiti

Note: All quotes below courtesy of Katen Johal | SVP, Business Development, Tinuiti

Hot Take: Brand Building on Amazon

“Now and in the future, will it actually make more sense to launch [your brand] on Amazon? Amazon has made a concerted effort to enable brand building on their platform. You can build a brand store, engage customers with posts, you can even use email now to launch and inform them about new products, you can automate fulfillment through FBA, and you can even leverage the likes of Google and Facebook to drive traffic back to Amazon (and they actually give you 10% of your revenue back). But the most important reason is you access the best converting customers in the world. This doesn’t mean building a D2C site isn’t important. What it means is the cost to benefit analysis is moving more towards Amazon’s favor.”

Hot Take: Netflix with Ads?!

 “Streaming TV is the final frontier and arguably the most powerful on the biggest screen in the house. Now that TV has become digital and measurable – it’s now truly performance based. Interestingly enough, Netflix does not support ads. Our streaming plus team (being the data driven marketers that they are) helped make the financial case for Netflix to give ads a chance.”

Hot Take: Expect the Privacy First Era of Marketing to Continue

“If you’re struggling to wrap your head around things, you are not alone. Privacy related impacts have become one of the most talked about topics at Tinuiti. We’ve build a specific team to make sure our clients are ready from a technology perspective, from a current state perspective, from a future state perspective – we have a team that’s going to work with you to understand what’s most important for business and how you should prioritize for preparing for a privacy-first era.”

Want to see more hot takes from our event? 

You can view all of our sessions mentioned above at Tinuiti Live Commerce (Now available on-demand until October 31, 2021)

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