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There’s no sign of a slowdown for retail media networks (RMN). However, as with any emerging technology, for the brand budget investment to continue flowing, RMNs must work toward standardization, something Europe’s Interactive Advertising Bureau aims to achieve by bringing together retailers in the region.
Retail media is currently the third fastest-growing advertising channel, forecast to reach $125.7 billion globally in 2023 and set to surpass television revenue by 2028, representing 15.4% of total ad revenue, according to GroupM’s Mid-Year Forecast. Meanwhile, IAB Europe has forecast retail media spend to overtake that of linear TV by 2026.
As a result, the world’s largest brands have entered this arena, from retailers such as Target, Walmart, Sainsbury’s, Carrefour, Macy’s and Amazon, to CPG companies such as Unilever and P&G.
Retail media networks offer advertisers the opportunity to grow their brand awareness, drive conversion and increase revenue, so it’s a no-brainer that they have begun developing their own platforms to drive first-party data and off-site traffic to monetize access to their audiences. Still, problems posed by lack of standardization limit further investment.
Enhancing retail media networks’ offering
British electronics retailer Currys is enhancing its RMN with the launch of Tech Hunters, a product that lets brand partners reach people with targeted online ads using its first-party data, offering both on- and off-site capabilities.
Developed with Publicis Epsilon and supported by Spark Foundry, the product will help brand partners reach in-market tech shoppers with display and video ads while they are shopping for a new electronic appliance, explained Currys brand and marketing director Dan Rubel.
“Wherever it [the ad] appears, it’s appearing in a moment when they actually want to see it, which since the beginning of time has been one of the things that marketers and advertising gurus are desperately searching for,” continued Rubel of the service, which launched in July.
“Because we are the retailer, we were awash with data and therefore we can create proper closed-loop reporting on impact. And not only the impact in terms of clicks and online metrics, but the impact in terms of sales, both online and in-store. As a retailer, we’re constantly trying to make the connections between advertising and sales impact in-store as well as online,” Rubel added.
In order to continue attracting marketer interest, retail media networks will need reliable attribution reporting.
Consistent media and attribution standards
In a new survey, IAB Europe discovered that more than two-thirds of buyers (70%) believe the lack of standards for RMNs was a barrier to investment. The majority (90%) of buyers and sellers (84%) said that media and attribution measurement were the most important standards needing to be set.
IAB Europe’s retail media working group created a guide, including some pan-European definitions, to offer stakeholders an overview of the channel’s growing significance in the European market.
“The buy side and the sell side have very similar views, which is interesting, particularly on the sell side. You’ve got sellers that are saying the same things as buyers, so the onus is then on the sellers to sort it out,” said David Fieldhouse, head of commerce at GroupM UK and an adviser to IAB Europe.
When questioned about the efficiency of buying and selling using RMNs, 41% of buyers said it was not efficient while 42% of sellers said the same. Media measurement (89%) and attribution measurement (88%) were two areas cited the most in need of standardization. Others included third-party campaign verification (74%), data strategies (72%) and campaign capabilities and processes (70%).
Fieldhouse added that these results will be used to understand where to focus over the coming months to encourage retailers to fix the issues most vexing to buyers. It will also form a Retailer Council to discuss and develop solutions.
“We want a group where the retailers come together in a trusted forum where they can hopefully work together on things like best practices standards,” explained Marie-Clare Puffett, marketing and insights director for IAB Europe.
“It’ll be easier for buyers to invest, which if you’re representing an agency, then hopefully [it’s] going to be easier to convince advertisers to invest in that area,” she added.
Definitions within the Retail Media 101 guide include breakdowns of on-site, off-site and in-store offerings.
In a statement, Jason Wescott, global practice lead for commerce at GroupM Nexus, said: “The success of early adopters in digital retail media has driven more retailers to throw their hats in the ring. More digital retail media owners means buying becomes more complex, confusing and highly specialized, as each retailer has their own definitions, campaign metrics and attribution windows. For advertisers, this makes it hard to compare across digital retail media platforms vis-à-vis planning budgets, strategies and campaign activations.”