Drive-to-Store is Here to Stay


In association with S4M.

Writing exclusively for ExchangeWire, Rose Shorter (pictured below), agency group head at S4M, discusses how spending in drive-to-store advertising is set to rise in the next four years, as well as the host of benefits associated with embracing the medium.

Let me tell you something, if I’ve learnt anything from the decade I’ve spent working in digital advertising, it’s that retailers have to anticipate consumer’s changing behaviour and innovate constantly if they want to remain relevant. The latest casualties of an inability to keep up are teen fashion brand Forever21 and, one which may come as a surprise, the nation’s favourite John Lewis.

The first filed for bankruptcy and the second has just kicked off major restructuring efforts in a bid to recover from substantial losses. Not exactly a dream scenario for retailers.

From job cuts to time-intensive overhauls and financial losses, the British High Street is beginning to look more like the Titanic than a viable business proposition. But there is hope. Grab onto your life jackets, ladies and gents, because drive-to-store is here to help.

Rose Shorter

Rose Shorter, Agency Group Head, S4M

For those of you new to the concept of drive-to-store, the term encompasses any advertising campaign where the primary objective is to increase customer visits to a target location. While campaigns are traditionally bought on OTS, views or clicks, these campaigns are goaled, optimised and measured solely on their ability to deliver more customers in store.

By 2023, these drive-to-store campaigns will amount to 65% of worldwide retail advertising spend – the equivalent of £66bn. And UK retailers are leading the way, growing their DTS investments over the next five years. By 2023, 75% of all retail ad spend will be on campaigns measured on incremental store visits.

Still not convinced you should be part of the change? OK, I’ll bite. Your competitors will be moving towards a drive-to-store strategy. The UK is and will remain the leading market worldwide in terms of drive-to-store advertising and there will be no exceptions. Brands across all sectors are increasing their investment in drive-to-store campaigns. Grocery, the biggest spender in retail advertising, will allocate 25% of its total budget to drive-to-store. Automotive will follow with 20% and Home & Furniture will complete the podium with 19%. That’s £426m, £224m and £222m respectively. If you’re slow to make the change, you can be sure your competition will capitalise on your hesitation.

The message couldn’t be clearer – if you want to remain competitive, you must turn to drive-to-store or risk becoming irrelevant.

Even today, there is already significant investment in drive-to-store ads among retailers, with many in the UK already investing 100% of their budget. This doesn’t surprise me in the least. First, drive-to-store is undeniably successful at increasing visits to stores and, as a consequence, in-store sales. Second, it improves the speed and efficiency with which you can engage with prospective customers. Third, it allows you to increase the scale of your reach – you aren’t just targeting the rare customers who engage with ads (very few), you’re targeting people who are likely to go to your store.

Now, I can’t talk about drive-to-store without mentioning digital. As with more traditional metric driven campaigns, digital will take over drive-to-store advertising spend. Overall, total digital media will account for 66% of the UK drive-to-store market by 2023. Of those, mobile and social media advertising will lead the way, taking nearly 50% of the total media share.

Not only are they the preferred advertising media of UK retailers – 63% for social media and 46% for mobile, they are also considered the most effective media for drive-to-store advertising – 71% for social media and 44% for mobile. After all, what better way to target and effectively reach your prospects than by engaging with them on today’s most used device through the most used media?

But if you think holistically, drive-to-store tactics can effectively be translated across all your mediums. While the location data required for proving attribution is heavily reliant on mobile technology, the goal of store visits can be applied to your display, audio, (D)OOH and video campaigns, with attribution data sourced from an independent third party.

Drive-to-store will grow across the board in the UK, as brands invest up to £6 billion per year. Not adjusting to this market shift could be high-street suicide. You have to be part of this evolution, and you have to start now. If you don’t, you risk becoming another cautionary tale.

Discover all the numbers and insights about drive-to-store advertising worldwide in the S4M study with IHS Markit: The State of Drive-to-Store Advertising 2019.