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Retail Media Networks 101



How can a Retail Media Network (RMN) Benefit Retailers and Brands?


According to Epsilon, "A retail media network allows a retail brand to give their partner brands access to customers, using the retailer's key assets: their first-party customer data and channels (including their website). With the retailer's first-party data, brands can reach in-market buyers at the point of purchase, across formats and owned channels.

A successful media network is one that can effectively monetize all addressable channels in a brand-safe, privacy-compliant environment — all the way through to the end consumer."

The following resources provide insight on Retail Media Networks (RMNs) and how they can benefit retailers and brands.

Major Players

  • Comparing Retail Media Networks Like Walmart, Target, Kroger and More. Adweek, June 2021.
    Because 2020's pandemic-inflated numbers are going to make 2021 more art than science, there will be some guesswork involved in managing retail media. To help make your planning process a little less painful, here's a short and sweet scorecard for a high-level view of the pros and watchouts of key retail media players.

  • The Top 10 Retail Media Networks (Besides Amazon) Compared. Tinuiti, January 2021.

    Pretty much everyone with an e-commerce site and a brick-and-mortar store seems to be in
    the Retail Media game today, offering at minimum onsite placements like Sponsored
    Products. This article explores emerging players (without Amazon since they far outpace the competition). This chart sample is an accumulation of high-level info to give you an idea of the offerings, programs, and partnerships for comparison.


Best Practices

  • Breaking Research Reveals that Retail Media Networks are Vital, not Niche. Inmar Intelligence, April 2021.
    A survey of 200 retail professionals was conducted to learn about their existing or planned retail media. The retail professionals overwhelmingly indicated an increased commitment to, and investment in, their RMNs in 2021. The main reason? They see those networks as crucial vehicles to drive sales and create new revenue streams. The study also shared the following:
    • While RMNs are incredibly effective at increasing shopper engagement and sales, they also generate profitable ad revenue. As retailers expand their networks and add capabilities, they will be able to increase ad sales to other brands and CPGs.
    • Because RMNs are proving to be powerful profit centers, retailers are looking to add new features and benefits that can drive even more return on investment.
    • Retailers are enjoying the added income from RMNs and interested in increasing the size of their paying client base. 58% of respondents indicate that they plan on expanding their RMN sales organization in the next year, to capitalize on the added revenue opportunities.
    • Profits are already rolling in from endemic advertisers, but revenue from non-endemic brands and CPGs might provide the next big ROI boost to retailers. 39% of respondents already see the category as a key area for growth.
  • A Cookie-Less World Creates an Appetite for Retail Media. Path to Purchase IQ, May 2021.
    Changes to third-party cookie policies are forcing a seismic shift in how marketers acquire, retain, and engage with consumers. This article considers whether RMNS are the solution. According to the article, "RMNs can provide addressable advertising opportunities that fit the needs of CPGs. Their unique value includes:
    • Rich, first-party customer data derived from long periods of shopping history across several products that provides granularity and precision in targeting.
    • Customers that are often logged in/authenticated or can be tracked with a compliant first-party cookie (since the e-commerce site is self-owned).
    • Shoppers in transaction mode.
    • A direct path to actual sales of the CPG's products. Many offer closed loop reporting to prove that the ad resulted directly in incremental sales.
    • Marketing that can be combined with other retailer-centric activity, like in-store promotions or advertising in apps or out of home.
    • The potential for more strategic advertising partnerships in which the CPG might bring its first-party data for joint targeting programs with privacy-compliant (clean room) data blending.
  • The Growth of E-Retail. Merkle, September 2020.
    According to this report, there has been a surge in retail media networks over the past few years. This increase of retail media offerings, including both on-site media and off-site placements, is coupled with a growing demand from CPGs to have advertising solutions that allow them to get closer to the point of purchase, and to reach known customers using retailer and fulfillment first-party data." In addition, the report says that Retailers see digital media network capabilities as important to creating more personalized experiences with their shoppers and strengthening relationships with brands:

CPGs find closed-loop reporting and superior shopping experience to be the most important benefit of retail media networks:

  • The Opportunity for Influencer Marketing within Retail Media Networks. ANA/Inmar Intelligence, January 2021.
    Influencer content, when linked to retail data through reliable, retailer-endorsed partners, can be promoted directly in the social media feeds of known shoppers based on their purchase and browsing behaviors. That, in turn, can be measured for attributed sales when proper tracking mechanisms are in place. This tactic allows retailers and their supplier partners to commission influencer content that presents shoppers with new usage occasions for products and categories, complete solutions that build larger baskets, and ideal messaging for reengagement tactics that increase relevancy and drive loyalty.

  • Retail Media Networks and Non-Endemic Advertisers. Merkle, February 2021.
    This article asks: "Why should a non-endemic brand care about another place to advertise?" It says that retailers' RMNs offer a powerful media channel for brands looking for new audiences to target across their digital media buys. RMNs have an existing base of transacting customers who are in the mode to shop. The most attractive attribute of RMNs is their first-party loyalty and transaction data, especially in a world without third-party cookies, where third-party identity graphs are becoming more restricted and less valuable. The retailer has deep transactional data across dozens of product categories over many years. This means a brand could work with the RMN to craft audience segments built off years of a family's shopping habits, from food and cleaning supplies purchases to their clothing and entertainment preferences."

  • The $100 Billion Media Opportunity for Retailers. BCG, May 2021.
    This study says that "an effective retail media network funds additional retailer investments in personalization, which, in turn, drive a better consumer experience, greater customer loyalty, and increased vendor and retailer sales and bottom line. Retail media is a big pie, but it has a limited number of slices, and gaining a seat at the table requires vision, commitment, and resources. Retailers that want to seize significant share of a major new market need to start now."

  • 5 Things Brands Need to Know About Finding the Right Retail Media Network. Adweek, July 2021.
    Brands have more options than ever before to reach consumers at not only Amazon, Walmart, and Target, but also smaller, more specialized retailers like CVS, Walgreens, and Family Dollar, along with Home Depot, Best Buy, Ulta and Instacart, to name a few. Elizabeth Marsten, senior director of strategic marketplace services at performance marketing agency Tinuiti, conceded that because there are so many media networks to choose from now, it can be hard for brands to figure out the right one to use—but it's not impossible. This article discusses considerations for brands when deciding which RMN to work with.

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"Retail Media Networks 101." ANA, August 2021.