2023 Predictions: Retail media networks

As more advertisers flock to retail media networks, here’s how the networks will evolve.

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Retail media networks have taken digital advertising by storm over the last two years. The close connection that retailers have with their customers provides an opportunity for advertisers to meet those customers where they are. And it’s not just big box stores like Walmart and Lowe’s launching their ad networks. Other non-retail brands with deep customer involvement have unveiled similar networks, Marriott for instance.

Dig deeper: Why we care about retail media networks

Where do retail media networks go from here? Below are some predictions for where they’re heading in 2023.

Retail media networks standardize

Since retail media networks are all basically their own walled gardens, advertisers have to start from scratch when measuring the effectiveness of campaigns across each network. It’s likely 2023 will see more standardization.

“Retail media is becoming more powerful and reaping the benefits with all the changes to the cookieless Internet impacting social platforms and a number of big tech companies,” said Rachel Tipograph, founder and CEO of ecommerce platform MikMak. “But for all of this growth, brands expect accountability through the standardization in the measurement of ROI. The industry is buzzing about all of the inefficiencies more and more every day. I believe 2023 is when action will finally start to be taken.”

Where are the inefficiencies?

“The growing pains for brands with retail media is that there is limited supply making CPM’s expensive, lack of transparency on the mark-ups of the media, lack of self serve capabilities, lack of real-time reporting, lack of standardization across retailers (ad formats, how to buy, reporting metrics), and lack of transparency on whether the media is driving incremental sales,” said Tipograph.

Better reporting for retail media networks

Even without standardization across networks, RMNs will boost their own reporting and measurement capabilities in the coming year.

“With transaction data from in-store and in-app, retail media networks have the advantage of tying ad exposure to purchases,” said Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, chief revenue officer for Yahoo. “The next step, though, will be to leverage that data in real time for decisioning and optimization.”

Off-site activations and full-funnel expansion

More advertisers will expand the way they use RMNs in the coming year. If the retailer’s on-site properties (digital and physical storefronts) are buzzing with advertisers, it will drive advertisers to off-site channels.

“Retail media networks were the hottest accessory for major retailers this year and opened up new and meaningful revenue opportunities,” said Herbst-Brady. “While we’ll likely reach a saturation point in 2023 for Retail, other verticals like Travel and Auto will begin to ramp up, and off-site activations will gain popularity as on-site matures.”

She added, “Further, Retail and other vertical media networks will begin to approach their strategy in a more full-funnel model — activating against lower funnel, while expanding larger branding and awareness opportunities to drive loyalty and value for consumers.”

CTV will borrow the retail media network playbook

A retailer with a large customer base, like Walgreens, has many digital touchpoints and lots of customer data. Their customers can engage with that retailer on the app, taking a wide variety of actions without stepping foot in a physical store.

From a digital advertising perspective, is a retail media network that much different than a streaming app with an audience of a similar scale?

“If imitation is the highest form of flattery, retail media networks should turn a rosy shade as CTV takes a page out of the former’s book,” said Hunter Terry, VP solutions consulting and CTV commercial lead for data management and identity company Lotame. “Every streaming service is going to try to create its own unique platform. Why? Because networks are the ones with the data. Take LG for example. They can sell inventory within LG TVs or send off the data they collect into the ecosystem and onto other CTV devices. Anyone who has customer data is going to package it and sell it — just like a retail media network.”


About the author

Chris Wood
Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country's first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on "innovation theater" at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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