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5 Retail Media Questions Brand Marketers Want Answered

Samantha Thompson
Samantha Thompson

The retail media landscape is evolving at breakneck speed. As traditional digital advertising channels face growing scrutiny around data privacy and measurement with the cookie demise in progress, retailers have emerged as an attractive alternative for brands looking to connect with shoppers. But with this new channel, brand marketers have questions, and here are answers to the five I get most:

1. Which is more valuable: Targeting or measurement?

Trick question — both targeting and measurement are equally invaluable and inextricably linked.

Retailers leverage advanced targeting powered by proprietary first-party data. For brands with direct point-of-sale (POS) and customer relationship management (CRM) integrations, retail media networks (RMNs) build rich shopper profiles and customized audiences. With 100% viewable ad units on retail sites and apps, RMNs can directly tie sales to ad spend via closed-loop attribution. This symbiotic targeting and measurement cycle perpetually optimizes retail campaign performance over time.

However, targeting and measurement have trade-offs. Highly targeted campaigns can limit audience scale. Overly granular measurement risks fragmented insights hindering the big picture. That’s why retailers and brands must collaborate on developing attribution models to improve measurement solutions. If they can get sharper insights from accelerated results to rapidly optimize campaigns — together they can grow, unlock retail media’s full potential and move at the true speed of commerce.

2. What do you look for in a retail media network?

The main quality brands want in an RMN is strong ROI — what drives incrementality, repeat customers and business growth year over year.

Brands also want cross-channel and cross-retailer measurement to understand overall advertising performance and how it impacts channels, retailers and incremental revenue. Yet fragmentation and varying metrics across networks hinder comparisons.

Retailers should strive to find that middle ground between balancing standardization for scalability and customization. While RMNs need customization to stand out and achieve goals, too many highly customized offerings that curb brand needs might limit scalability. Every RMN’s goal should be to make it easy enough for brands to buy yet be customized enough to prove value – to capture more retail dollars.

The ad tech industry should establish flexibility within loose standard guardrails so brands can plug in, synthesize data and calculate metrics based on their objectives and strategies.

3. How should you invest dollars in retail media networks?

As retail media spend accelerates, competition among RMNs continues to intensify. With brands allocating budgets from a handful to up to 40 or more different networks, prioritization becomes critical.

Where brands invest comes down to what first-party data (audience, demographics, demand on platform) RMNs can provide – and which platforms align the most with their brand goals.

It also comes down to merchant relationships. Buying relationships and sales negotiations still dominate investment decisions today. Retailers know their customers better than anyone else and have valuable customer data – online and offline purchases and loyalty subscriptions – that brands want. Larger RMNs have inherent advantages in securing initial brand investment, but smaller RMNs can also capture their share of the market through differentiation – through the unique customer data reach and exclusive opportunities they offer. 

4. How do you measure retail media success?

It hinges on your goals and the ad placements selected. When measuring campaign success, it can vary by campaign type. Programmatic campaigns using first-party audiences can be used to hit awareness goals. However, with RMNs such as Walmart Connect and Target's Roundel, programmatic also can be used to drive sales. Search campaigns are low funnel and are best to drive sales and boost ROI.

If you’re new to retail media, vendors often provide industry benchmarks. This also provides a general idea of how successful your RMN is and how to remain competitive. Ultimately, looking at the campaign goals and how they hit your company-wide targets is key to measuring success.

5. How do you evolve your retail media investment as RMNs scale?

As more RMNs launch in market, it's common for brands to want to know how to evolve their investment. It starts with knowing which networks are available, what they offer, how they fit the brand goals, which audiences they can reach and their measurement options.

Given the size and scale of what’s available today and the ongoing evolution, we recommend our brand partners evaluate their investment strategy every quarter. This doesn’t mean we suggest altering or turning off tactics but rather looking at the landscape to ensure the right audience is reached at the right time and with the right media. Building in time and space to focus and innovate within the quickly changing retail media landscape is critically important for brands to make the most of what’s available.

Lastly, comparing the value of each network and the corresponding results can help a brand dial up or dial back investment as needed relative to the brand goals.

What Lies Ahead

Retail media represents a substantial opportunity to bridge the online and offline worlds. Retailers and brands that embrace this dynamic landscape, act decisively and cultivate innovation will shape the future of marketing. Despite potential challenges, the retail media realm is brimming with potential and possibility while offering a promising path forward.

About the Author: Samantha Thompson is a distinguished search engine marketing manager at Goodway Group, specializing in retail media. A client-focused problem solver and adept communication strategist with a diverse perspective, Thompson brings extensive experience collaborating with leading retailers. Certified in Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, YouTube Advertising and more, with proficiency in platforms such as Instacart, Criteo and Kroger, she wields rich expertise that spans the retail media landscape. Leveraging her comprehensive knowledge, Samantha crafts data-driven strategies to unlock growth opportunities for brands and retailers, consistently driving impactful results.

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