Target Corp. does more than just sell merchandise to shoppers. Since 2016, it also has operated a separate, in-house media company that creates digital advertising for a host of major brands and businesses, not all of whom sell products at Target stores.
The retailer made a splash Thursday in New York at NewFronts, a marketing conference for digital media, when it announced a rebranding of that business and signaled its intention to become a more aggressive player in the sector.
The company has tossed aside the more-staid name of Target Media Network and recast the business as Roundel. It’s a name officials said provides a “wink” at the Target bull’s-eye (a roundel is a circular disc) but is different enough in color and design to signal that it’s a distinct entity from the retailer’s red and white logo.
Target is not alone in rethinking the power of its in-house media business as more commerce shifts to the digital world. Walmart recently announced an overhaul to its Walmart Media Group. Amazon brought in $10 billion in advertising last year, doubling its business.
Target said its media ad business grew by double digits this year compared to last, and a fresh identity would signal to potential new customers that the services go well beyond display ads on Target.com.
Target officials declined to provide data on its annual revenue, but said its media business has been “a source of profitable growth.”
Target’s media business currently works with 1,000 clients from a wide range of consumer product categories as well as outside industries such as financial services, automotive and travel.
Current clients include Dyson, Disney, Coca-Cola and Allstate Insurance.
“What Target has that’s different from Amazon or Walmart is the legacy of exceptional branding, design and consumer sense,” said Josh Smerick, director of strategic planning at the Minneapolis ad agency Hunt Adkins. “It’s analogous to the PC and Apple. Not only are they sitting on the data that’s big, they can say as marketers that they have a sense of how to execute and integrate in ways that are creative and bold and probably more ‘on brand’ than maybe a couple others.”
Smerick noted that it’s unclear whether Target’s intention to more actively push into this space makes them “friend or a foe,” as the retailer currently works with major advertising agencies around the world to customize campaigns.
The Minneapolis-based retailer’s most valuable asset is using what it knows firsthand about the shopping behavior of the millions of people who have a Target Red Card in their wallet, use the mobile app or shop on Target.com each week.
The data — which the company said is used in the aggregate — helps media buyers better personalize and target their advertising messages.
Roundel helps clients tap into this insight into consumer behavior to create personalized ad campaigns for Target.com or on about 150 other social sites and digital platforms, such as Pinterest, Instagram, PopSugar and NBC Universal.
Target named Kristi Argyilan, a senior vice president of marketing, as president of Roundel.
In a blog post, Argyilan said the new brand “represents a different way of thinking” about how Target serves shoppers and its business partners.
“We infuse math — the insights and analytics that make our media company successful — with magic, the great, guest-focused design and shopping experiences that differentiate Target,” she said.