Why Brands Should Better Utilize Retail Media Networks | Marketing Maestros | Blogs | ANA

Why Brands Should Better Utilize Retail Media Networks

December 10, 2021

By Mike Ellgass


Growth of Retail Media Networks (RMNs) as shopper engagement vehicles accelerated dramatically in 2020 due to the pandemic, as shopper marketers and retailers had to expand digital platforms to connect with consumers who were adopting new shopping habits amid stay-at-home mandates.

Traditional shopper engagement marketing such as in-store samples and displays were clearly not an option.

IRI defines a Retail Media Network as a connected set of media channels that include the retailer's website, app, and other owned channels, such as email, as well as offsite ads served programmatically or via publisher partnerships.

An RMN enables advertisers to reach shoppers across the purchase funnel down to the point of purchase in owned channels. In a post-cookie world, RMNs are likely to become an attractive channel to an increasing number of advertisers since high-quality RMNs provide better methods of analyzing attribution and ROI.

To date, sales within RMNs have grown 27.8 percent in 2021 alone, and are expected to reach $30 billion by 2022. Brands are increasingly accepting RMNs as "legitimate" media opportunities according to the Path to Purchase Institutes 2021 Trends Report, with almost one-fourth (24 percent) of survey respondents stating their RMN buys were funded by national media budgets rather than local.

Still, retailers have more work to do to convince brands RMNs are worthwhile investments. P2PI's survey also revealed that 23 percent of respondents believed that RMNs were simply a money grab for retailers, and 39 percent believed RMNs were effective but no more than other digital media.

RMNs are proving to be a valuable tool for brands and will continue to become more beneficial as both consumer shopping trends and data accessibility rapidly evolve with emerging technology. Advertisers should analyze RMNs with the same criteria they use to select any media spend, and if there is value shown, allocate traditional marketing dollars toward them.

At a base level, RMNs are the ideal intersection of marketing and technology, and they provide a way for brands to interact with shoppers in a hyper-targeted way. RMNs are effective in achieving a wide range of goals in addition to accelerating sales, including promoting a limited-distribution item, attracting new members and buyers, or making a splash when launching new products.

Additionally, as reliance on third-party cookies decreases, a greater focus on first-party data available via RMNs will become crucial for brands looking for the most accurate consumer data.

Using that first-party data, RMNs offer brands in-flight optimization tools that analyze in real-time which elements of a campaign are achieving target goals, giving advertisers and agencies the opportunity to make mid-campaign adjustments to increase return on ad spend.

Post-campaign, RMNs offer evaluations that allow brands to determine how to turn those who were converted into lifetime consumers and how to better capture those who weren't converted. By offering both accurate data and interactive optimization tools, RMNs offer a well-rounded landscape for brands to engage with their target audience.

Leading into the 2021 holiday season, there is increased pressure for brands to capture consumer attention amid supply chain issues and less pandemic stimulus/SNAP benefit money.

It is easy to lose customers when their lives continue to be disrupted and their shopping patterns are evolving. Brands will benefit from having a flexible vehicle to capture shoppers' attention as these habits continue to change and evolve.

While brands should absolutely take a new look at RMNs, not all RMNs are created equal. When selecting a retail network, brands should bring the same discipline they would when planning any advertising medium.

Mike Ellgass is the EVP of retail marketing solutions at IRI.

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

You must be logged in to submit a comment.