Kiri Masters of Acadia Discusses Retail Media | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

Kiri Masters of Acadia Discusses Retail Media


Kiri Masters is a partner and head of retail marketplace strategy at Acadia, a digital marketing agency. Kiri was ranked in the Ad Age 40 Under 40, and a Top Retail Influencer by RETHINK Retail. Kiri was the founder of Bobsled Marketing, later acquired by Acadia. She writes a monthly column for Forbes on retail marketplaces from the brand perspective and is the co-author of the books Instacart for CMOs and Amazon for CMOs (ranked one of the top 100 retail books of all time).

Kiri will be speaking at the ANA Media Conference, March 18 to 20 in Orlando. Julie Weitzner, SVP of Brand & Media at the ANA, recently caught up with Kiri for a pre-conference conversation.

You have been a pioneer in the retail media space. Tell us a bit about your career progression, and what continues to keep you energized about this space.

There's no university degree for retail media, and like most other people in the retail media and marketplaces space, I came from a different industry. I noticed that a lot of traditional marketing agencies weren't taking the retail marketplace opportunity seriously, so I started my own agency in 2015.

This was the same year that Amazon launched its first Prime Day. Looking back, that was a bellwether moment. Back then, many brands were highly skeptical of retail marketplaces like Amazon. I remember prestige brands who didn't want to have their products in the same shopping cart as a package of toilet paper! So, I had to spend a good deal of time educating brands on why they should be selling through these new online channels. Education and advocacy were key drivers of business back then, and they still are today! On the client side, our partners are also educating and advocating from within their organizations, where ecommerce may still be a smaller sales channel relative to other national accounts.

Today, retail media is getting the recognition that it deserves, and there's still so much upside. That's what I love about the space – the dynamism. Things move very quickly, and the rules are still being written. The people who are attracted to the industry are smart and ambitious, but also kind. That makes it a fun place to be.

Seems that every day there's a new retail media network launching. What do you look for when evaluating these new entrants?

It's a very important question to ask. My last count of retail media networks, just in the U.S., was over 50. It's not as simple as a brand allocating an arbitrary percentage of their media spend to that retailer; they need to also deploy it, optimize it, and measure the results later. That management overhead must be factored into the evaluation.

Besides that, the exact scorecard a brand uses to evaluate RMNs should be influenced by the brand's goals. For example, a brand that's prioritizing market share growth should weigh audience size and reach heavily, and that might rule out some of these smaller retailers.

How do you guide non-endemic brands to approach retail media?

I encourage non-endemic brands to erase the word "retail" when evaluating this space. If a media network had 230 million unique customers in the U.S., and you can target these customers based not only on known demographics, but entertainment interests, past purchasing behavior, and future purchasing interests, would that be an attractive media buying opportunity? Because that's Amazon's value prop for advertisers. When you stop to think about how much Amazon knows about you and your family, it can be a little disconcerting, frankly!

While other media platforms are dealing with privacy changes that limit the amount of usable customer data, retailers are just getting started. There has been a whole raft of partnerships between retailers and social media networks to enrich their data and inventory, too. I think a lot of non-endemic brands overlook the opportunity because they don't consider themselves to be a retail brand. I see that changing in the near term, and the brands who get in early could benefit due to lower competition.

You will be presenting at the 2024 ANA Media Conference. Can you give us a preview of some of the highlights from your session?

Monster is a market leader in the energy drink space. The category is also expecting double-digit growth over the next few years. But that success has also painted a target on Monster's back from up-and-coming challenger brands. Both in-store and in online retail channels like Amazon, the energy drink aisle is a battleground. Enter, Monster's "offense/defense" strategy, which aims to acquire new customers, drive repeat purchases, and defend against new and aggressive competitors.

As Monster's proud retail media partner, I'll be sharing how this approach is helping Monster win online, alongside Brea Keating, Monster's senior director of eCommerce. We will discuss sophisticated audience segmentation strategies with shopper data at the core, best practices around optimal reach/frequency and spend allocations, all tied to a clear KPI framework.

The views and opinions expressed in Industry Insights are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA. This piece originally appeared in MediaVillage.

Julie Weitzner is SVP of Brand & Media at ANA.