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Q&A: Acorn-i’s CEO Claire Leon talks about the company’s merger with Jellyfish

There’s no sting in the tail – or tentacle – for a merger that shows real promise for digital advertising in the retail sector

Hi Claire, please can you start by introducing yourself and Acorn-i?

I’m one of the co-founders of Acorn-i, which is a business I co-founded in 2018 with Ross Caveille. Ross and I had both worked at Amazon to bring the retail giant’s advertising platform to the UK, and we saw a gap in the market for a tech-driven retail media and e-commerce company that specialises in AI-driven cross-platform activation measurement, and Acorn-i was born. 

Since then, we’ve been establishing and expanding Acorn-i’s offering, and the business is currently activating and reporting on several billion dollars of retail data. We’re now at the stage where we offer unique SaaS solutions, as well as retail expertise, and have built valuable partnerships with some of the world’s largest retail platforms, including Amazon, Walmart, TikTok and Shopify. 

Regardless of the product, platform or partnership, it’s our ability to offer cross-platform advertising strategy, channel activation and optimisation, content and analysis that really sets us apart from the competition. We’re really progressing the retail media game, and helping to mature it for brands and advertisers. 

Congratulations on the merger with Jellyfish – tell us a little bit about the deal

The deal is structured to create a new entity: Jellyfish Commerce, while Acorn-i will continue to operate separately. 

Jellyfish is a remarkable, unique animal in the jungle that is digital advertising. It isn’t an agency, or a consultancy. Rather, Jellyfish considers itself a digital partner with a wealth of expertise that help clients to build brands through its unique platform. 

There isn’t much around like it, and its expansion from an IT consultancy in Reigate to a global digital platform that employs over 2000 people across 40 international offices is testament to Jellyfish’s capabilities. 

Nevertheless, retail media’s rapid growth is driving a new form of marketing as a union between brand, trade and consumer develops. Merging with Acorn-i allows Jellyfish Commerce to combine content, commerce and community with pioneering technology to really elevate the work we do across all our platforms and solutions.

Can you elaborate further on your hopes for Jellyfish Commerce?

You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed retail media’s comet-like rise over recent years. It has troubled the top of most industry annual prediction lists for ages, and there’s now a sense that as a $3tn global business, retail media will mature and consolidate significantly in the coming years.

Our hope is that Jellyfish Commerce will help support its partners and drive growth. We have unrivalled talent and proprietary technology that will help our partners navigate this new and complex commerce landscape

This is driven by the simple fact that brands need an omnichannel approach in order to maximise the chance of customers having the opportunity to buy their products. Only data can help us understand purchasing trends. The issue facing businesses is that there are so many places to gather that data, you need a sophisticated solution that can bring it all together to help make informed decisions across channels and business units. Only then can a marketing team understand how and where to spend advertising dollars and appeal to high-value audiences. 

The truth is, a data-driven approach to e-commerce is the fastest route to success, and with Jellyfish Commerce we’re hoping to build a product that does what clients want. In our view, that is a platform where retail media consultation, content creation and activation can happen in one place – and that is what Jellyfish Commerce is all about. 

In a nutshell, we are applying Jellyfish’s unique ethos and way of doing things to retail media, and the long-term goal is for Jellyfish Commerce to revolutionise the space.  

And finally, what does the immediate future hold for Jellyfish Commerce?

We embedding the practice into our current brands and partners, turbocharging our teams with our technology and delivering some fantastic insights projects across our group partners. It’s been great to work on ways we can deepen our partnerships with our brand partners, as we support them in this manner.

More e-commerce brands than ever are recognising that an omnichannel approach provides the long-term opportunity to reach and build a community of customers. Therefore, the aim is to combine Acorn-i’s cutting-edge tech and services with Jellyfish’s platform-first approach, and their remarkable ability to harness technology and expertise for exceptional outcomes, while pioneering an e-commerce solution that will redefine the game for brands.

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