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The Retail Media Industry Landscape: Shaping the Future Together


Retail media’s first act has been nothing short of amazing. Dubbed by some as the third wave of digital advertising (after paid search and social advertising), it has generated rapid growth in marketer interest and investment, led to an explosion of Retail Media Networks, and spawned a thriving ecosystem.

While the newest channel in advertising has experienced some growing pains, retail media is uniquely positioned to leverage data and technology in ways that can significantly enhance consumer engagement and drive sales. It benefits from being new in a landscape that’s vastly different from when digital advertising began 25 years ago. This has allowed retail media to be fresh, innovative, and highly effective, learning from the successes and failures of the past in order to be uniquely relevant to today’s marketers and consumers alike.

And looking ahead, retail media has the potential to evolve into a true, seamless advertising experience. This future benefits all parties: consumers would enjoy more personalized and relevant ads, brands would achieve better targeting and return on investment (ROI), and retailers would see increased sales and customer satisfaction.

However, this vision can only be realized if each player in the retail media ecosystem delivers on their unique capabilities, from brands and agencies to publishers, networks, technology vendors, and more. 

Envisioning retail media’s evolution

Imagine a future where retail media has fully matured into a seamless advertising experience. In this ideal state, every brand message consumers encounter would feel like a natural part of their shopping journey. These ads would be so well-integrated and personalized that they enhance the shopping experience rather than interrupt it.

This means more relevant and timely promotions catering to consumers’ specific needs and preferences. Shoppers would benefit from discovering new products and receiving tailored offers that genuinely interest them while navigating a streamlined and enjoyable shopping process.

The seamless retail media landscape offers unparalleled targeting precision and ROI for brands and advertisers. With access to rich first-party data and advanced analytics, brands can craft campaigns that reach the right audience at the right time with the right message. This precision not only boosts the effectiveness of advertising efforts but also optimizes ad spend, ensuring that every dollar invested yields maximum returns.

On the other hand, retailers stand to gain from increased sales and customer loyalty. By leveraging retail media to deliver personalized shopping experiences, retailers can foster deeper customer connections, encouraging repeat business and long-term loyalty. Additionally, the data insights from retail media interactions can help retailers refine their marketing strategies and improve overall business performance.

Overall, a seamless retail media experience creates a win-win scenario for everyone involved in the channel. Consumers enjoy a more personalized and efficient shopping experience, brands achieve better targeting and higher ROI, retailers see increased sales and customer loyalty, and technology providers are able to grow and innovate. 

Building the future of retail media together

A seamless retail media experience has the potential to revolutionize advertising and elevate the entire shopping journey. However, to achieve this vision, each player in the retail media ecosystem must fulfill their unique role while also collaborating effectively with the others.

Advertisers and their agencies must keep up performance to drive spending

Advertisers fund retail media and lean on their agencies to develop best practices and ensure the channel performs for brands, driving investment and growth. “…what we strive for every day [is] a relentless focus on better business outcomes for our clients,” said Florian Adamski, CEO of Omnicom Media Group.

If advertisers & agencies deliver, they can further establish retail media as a reliable and effective advertising channel. This consistency attracts more brands and advertisers, increasing investment and innovation within the space which helps evolve retail media into a seamless advertising experience. This evolution benefits all stakeholders, providing consumers with more relevant ads and driving higher sales for retailers.

Retailers should continue expanding their programs

Retailers are critical to growing retail media inventory and enhancing the breadth and depth of ad offerings. This expansion includes onsite, offsite, in-store, and across the open web across new ad formats. “We want to…lead the way in how we interact with our customers through fresh investment in brands, loyalty, data, and technology,” said Nina Bhatia, Executive Director for Strategy and Commercial Development at the John Lewis Partnership​.

If retailers expand their campaign options, they can attract a wider array of advertisers and provide more opportunities for targeted and impactful marketing. This growth in inventory and ad formats enables more innovative and engaging campaigns, which can drive higher engagement and sales. As retailers enhance their ad offerings, the overall retail media ecosystem becomes more robust, supporting the creation of a seamless and effective advertising experience that benefits consumers, brands, and retailers alike.

Data companies should remain committed to connecting the dots

Data companies help companies optimize ad spending via detailed consumer insights, ensuring efficient and effective campaign decision-making. “Data-driven marketing allows us to deliver highly personalized and effective campaigns that drive meaningful engagement and superior ROI,” said Bryan Kennedy, former CEO of Epsilon​.

If data specialists can connect the dots, they ensure that advertising budgets are used effectively, resulting in more impactful campaigns. This efficiency helps to attract more advertisers to the retail media channel, driving growth and further innovation. As a result, the retail media landscape has become more sophisticated and capable of delivering seamless advertising experiences.

Omnichannel platforms should continue to integrate retail media into the rest of the media plan

Innovative platforms like Kenshoo Skai are crucial in innovating and connecting retail media to the omnichannel marketing approach to maximize its benefits. “Our platform provides the insights and optimization tools necessary to achieve significant growth and a deeper connection with customers,” said Simon Piper, VP of Sales and Customer Success at Kenshoo Skai​​. These tools ensure campaigns are integrated across publishers and channels, driving higher engagement and ROI.

If omnichannel platforms continue integrating retail media, they will help create a cohesive and efficient advertising strategy that spans multiple touchpoints. This ensures that retail media efforts are not siloed but rather contribute to a comprehensive marketing approach, enhancing overall program effectiveness and driving greater returns. By orchestrating various channels seamlessly, these platforms can optimize the customer journey, ensuring a consistent and engaging experience across all interaction points.

Commerce media companies should continue bridging the gap between buyers and sellers

Commerce media companies like Criteo are crucial in frictionlessly connecting the supply and demand sides. “While publishers recognize the opportunity, they’ve also struggled to find a clear path on how to access commerce budgets and buyers…we’re able to connect them directly to commerce demand and opportunities while giving agencies and brands the flexibility to access desired commerce segments, coupled with premium supply, through their preferred demand platforms,” said Brian Gleason, Chief Revenue Officer at Criteo.

If commerce media companies continue to bridge the gap, they will enable seamless transactions between advertisers and publishers, ensuring that ad placements are efficient and effective. This will reduce friction in the advertising process, making it easier for brands to reach their target audiences and for publishers to monetize their content. As a result, the entire retail media ecosystem will enjoy the dividends of increased efficiency and effectiveness.

Only the sky is the limit

As retail media continues to evolve, its ability to integrate smoothly into the consumer journey, leverage advanced data insights, drive performance, and deliver highly personalized experiences through every stage of the customer journey will set it apart from other advertising channels. This collective effort will benefit brands and consumers, advertisers and publishers, buyers and suppliers across walled gardens and the open web for years to come.

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