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Putting the consumer back at the heart of retail media

Annia Champsaur, data marketing expert and Thibaut Munier, co-founder and COO, Numberly

What sets a good innovation apart from a great one? What differentiates a short-lived fad from a habit- changing product or service? In innovation theory, one key success factor prevails, both in academic and business use cases: the way an innovation serves its end consumer.

Consider any consumer-facing marketing technology innovation from the last two decades. If it is still widely used today, chances are that it provided an effective new solution to customer pains. Apple Pay and Amazon Echo/Alexa stand out as good examples, with each one offering an intuitive, helpful tool to customers. Compare that to Google Glass and proximity marketing beacons, which struggled to prove their usefulness and didn’t last.

So what about retail media? Over the last few years, Retail media networks (RMNs) and data collaboration use cases have significantly transformed the advertising landscape. At the intersection of the rise of first-party data and ecommerce, regulatory and online tracking evolutions, data sharing technological advancements, and increased openness among stakeholders, this innovation has brought a clear win- win value proposition for brands and retailers.

For brands, it offers unparalleled insights into consumer behaviour and purchasing journeys, directly impacting marketing strategies and sales effectiveness. The most advanced ones have even started building their own clean room to take better ownership of their media strategy, thus rebalancing their relationship with their data partners and reshaping their Martech ecosystem.

Retailers also benefit immensely from RMNs by monetising their digital assets and shopper data, by generating substantial revenue and by fostering longer-term, collaborative relationships with brands. However, the central figure – the consumer – often seems overlooked in this equation.

While retail media promises a more coherent and less intrusive advertising experience, it has yet to fully realise this goal. To evolve into a consumer-centric model, it must prioritise consumer welfare by delivering relevant, timely ads based on consumer consent and preferences. It must also ensure data usage transparency and privacy, all while using insights to enhance the consumer experience rather than merely boosting sales.

Additionally, consumers could enjoy new free services funded through newly–monetised data, such as free in-flight Wi-Fi paid for by targeted advertising. This would not only benefit consumers but also allow advertisers to directly enhance the user experience, helping airlines to differentiate themselves.

To transition from a good innovation to a lasting great one, retail media must refocus its efforts on making the consumer not just a target but also a beneficiary in this new win-win-win equation.

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