The Home Depot's vice president of Orange Apron Media and monetization sits down with Digital Commerce 360 to explain why on-site ads are a good investment for suppliers in specialty categories and are easier to attribute to sales.

After four years of advertiser growth, The Home Depot Inc. relaunched its retail media network in March as Orange Apron Media. The new changes offer a glimpse at how the company is positioning itself in a maturing landscape for retailers.

In making the updates, the home improvement store wants to help differentiate its offerings from those of retail media networks, said Melanie Babcock, The Home Depot’s vice president of Orange Apron Media and monetization.

The Home Depot decided on “orange” because of its strong association with its brand. It chose the word “apron” to symbolize the service its associates provide to its suppliers, she explained.

Currently, The Home Depot has a few thousand suppliers that advertise in its retail media network. Over the next few years, the retail chain has the goal of doubling that number by adding a few thousand more, Babcock said.

The Orange Apron Media network allows suppliers to buy ads on several places on Those spots include top-of-the-page banners, sponsored product carousels and in the filtering grid. Suppliers can also buy ad spots in promotional emails The Home Depot sends. Plus, in 100 Home Depot Stores, suppliers can buy ads and display content on TV screens located in the aisles and endcaps. Home Depot operates more than 2,300 stores, according to its website.


Home Depot says its retail network advertisers receive at least a two-times return on their ad spend. And on average, shoppers spend 28% more per visit and are 26% more likely to convert after clicking on an ad in the Home Depot retail media network.

Why Home Depot says its retail media ads benefit suppliers

These ads can bring traction to products that may otherwise be hard to find within its millions of online SKUs. Home Depot’s search results are built off an algorithm with many attributes, including frequently bought, Babcock said.

“If you are a new product and you don’t have frequently bought, and you don’t have that history, then maybe you come up on the second or third page of search results. Advertising helps to break through to the front page,” Babcock said. “So these are situations where advertising does help the supplier who may not have the most popular products or they are a new product — it helps them get noticed and purchased at Home Depot.”

Home Depot says this is important when considering its shoppers. In some cases, they may be doing a particular home project for the first time. In others, they might not have tackled the project in more than five years. As a result, shoppers may need to be reminded of what related products they need to get when buying something — like paint, for instance. In those cases, ads can help showcase a relevant product on the appropriate product page.


For example, if a shopper is replacing her faucet, she may need information about the new technologies in faucets that have changed since the last time she replaced one.

“Ads tell that story and bring that innovation to you faster than maybe organic results,” she said.

Adding utility for shoppers

While these ads may help suppliers, Paula Rosenblum, co-founder and managing partner at retail consulting firm RSR Research, said they can be annoying for shoppers.

“I don’t think the customer loves sponsored ads online,” she said. “I was just reading some of Amazon’s story of retail network advertising and was reminded how irritating it is to me as I work my way through the ads to the actual product listings.”


“It’s hard to stop once you start down this road and it ends up watering down credibility,” Rosenblum adds.

Instead, Rosenblum suggests that ads on Home Depot that could be more helpful would be those that linked to videos about how to install products or use the product.

Improving attribution for ads

With this rebrand, The Home Depot is emphasizing some of the features its retail media network offers to help smaller suppliers that don’t have as much media savvy. For them, the retail chain offers webinars, newsletters, product content help and a person to call to help the effectiveness of their ads, Babcock said.

Plus, suppliers can leverage the first-party data from the retail media network. That can enable them to retarget shoppers on other channels, such as social media.


Babcock says advertising on retail media networks is like the last mile of advertising. She likens it to the last mile in fulfillment. The latter is widely known as the shortest but most expensive and critical part of the ecommerce delivery process.

“I believe the CMO or the head of marketing continues to be under pressure around driving value in the business,” Babcock said.

It’s hard for marketing executives to know whether their advertisement on TV or in a catalog to increase brand awareness actually drove a consumer to purchase, Babcock said. With retail media ads, a shopper is clicking on the ad at the point where conversion is likely to happen. Thus, marketers can have a way to measure if their ads drove sales in that last mile of advertising.

Strengthening the supplier relationship

Some retail media networks can drive incremental revenue for brands. Meanwhile, Amazon generated $46.9 billion from advertising sales in 2023. The Home Depot says its program’s goal is to provide a benefit for its suppliers.


“We are in a fortunate situation where The Home Depot is healthy all by itself, and we see this program not as [a] big P&L driver — but we see it as a supplier stickiness program. How do we get [them] to love Home Depot and invest in Home Depot?” Babcock said.

Suppliers have many facets to their relationship with a retailer, such as supply chain investment, merchandising and design services. Babcock hopes the Orange Apron Media network will be another prong of a supplier’s relationship with Home Depot.

The Home Depot is No. 4 in the Top 1000. The database is Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of the largest North American online retailers.

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