Why Retail Media Networks are Essential for Brands in 2022 

More people are shopping online than ever before and this shift in consumer behaviour is changing the way brands promote their products. In 2021, for the first time ever, digital advertising accounted for more than half of global ad spend. 

While brands have become accustomed to targeting audiences as they browse social media or research products on Google, now is the time to take advantage of retail media networks and connect with consumers as they shop. 


What are retail media networks? 

The ads that are featured on a retail website, app or other online platform are known as retail media, and the retailers that host these ads are retail media networks. The major benefit of retail media networks is that they allow brands to advertise their products near the point of sale, which makes it easier for consumers to convert

Your ad could appear when someone types a relevant search term into Amazon or as shoppers browse a particular product category on their favourite supermarket site. This is the eCommerce equivalent of in-store advertising and can help brands capture audiences at the most influential point in the  digital consumer journey

Retail media networks open up digital spaces that were previously off-limits to brands. Amazon led the way by introducing sponsored ads. Now, other online retailers are following in their footsteps. 


Advantages of retail media networks

Retail media networks are having far-reaching consequences for all eCommerce stakeholders. 

For online retailers, it provides a new revenue stream which is huge when you consider that CPG profit margins have been decreasing. For the end consumer, it means lower and more consistent prices because stores that operate a retail media network will avoid sudden price hikes that could negatively impact traffic and ad revenue. 

Retail media is also changing the way shoppers and brands interact. While it will take some time for brands to get used to, it is worth the investment because of all the unique advantages retail media offers. These include: 

1. In-depth data 

Because sales take place on their platforms, each retail media network can collect first-party data on buyer behaviour. This is more reliable than the data coming through third-party cookies. And, with internet browsers moving to phase out the use of third-party cookies, it’s future proof too. 

The data collected varies a lot but, if the retail media network you choose has a loyalty programme, it may have access to in-depth and insightful information about shoppers that will allow you to target and customise your ads for maximum impact. 

2. Next level personalisation 

As mentioned, retail media allows you to customise your message to increase sales, improve ROI and provide a seamless customer experience. But you can go even further by personalising your offers to appeal to different audience segments. 

As an example of the high-quality targeting available, let’s look at US supermarket Kroger. Loyalty cards are used with 96% of transactions on its retailer media network, brands can target shoppers based on everything from household size to personal preferences, like favourite flavours. Many networks even enable brands to send their customers highly relevant coupons and email promotions

This level of personalisation makes it easy for brands to attract new customers and introduce current users to new products. 

3. Perfectly timed ads 

Retail media allows you to get your message to consumers who are in shopping mode. They are on a retail website to research or buy a product, so there’s no better time to promote your brand. Conversions are just one click away. 

When executed effectively, retail media ads are distinctive and prominently placed, so they’re a great way to  win space on the digital shelf

4. Clear conversion tracking 

Because ad impressions and sales take place on the same platform, you can accurately track the impact of your ads. 

This provides clear ROI insights and allows you to invest in the strategies that boost your bottom line the most. With the likes of Facebook and Google, there isn’t the same level of accountability because the consumer’s journey can’t always be tracked to the point of sale. 


Top retail media networks in 2022 

The biggest retailers and marketplaces around the world are turning to retail media to increase their profits. Here are some of the most popular and well-established players on the international stage: 

1. Amazon 

For many consumers around the globe, Amazon is their go-to shopping platform. With so many product categories available, most people can find what they need. As a retail media network, this also means it can accommodate ads from brands across every niche and enable brands to increase their Amazon sales

Amazon Advertising offers the potential to maximise marketplace sales  and beat out competitors. Similar to Google Ads, Amazon uses a self-service platform that allows brands to bid on keywords and then pay every time an ad is clicked. 

Amazon offers three main ad types: 

●      Sponsored ads appear alongside organic results when shoppers conduct a search. 

●      Sponsored brand ads will display your brand’s logo along with a selection of products. 

●      Sponsored display ads showcase your brand and target shoppers based on behaviour and demographics, rather than keywords. 

2. eBay 

eBay is another marketplace where brands across all industries can sell their wares. Its promoted listings look just like regular listings with two differences: they’re labelled as ‘Sponsored’ and they appear at the top of search results. They can pop up on product pages as ‘suggested’ or ‘related’ items too. 

For brands that want to build awareness, there are eBay marketing options, such as display ads on the homepage and category pages. 

3. Criteo 

Criteo is a retail media network that allows brands to advertise their products across a wide range of websites through one convenient, central platform. 

Right now, brands can use Criteo to buy ads across the likes of Costco, Target, Best Buy, CVS, Walgreens, Staples, Walmart, Kohl’s, Meijer and Macy’s. So whatever vertical your brand is in, you should be able to find a selection of ad placements to suit your needs. 

Criteo recently launched its retail media offering in Europe too, so some more major retailers are likely to come on-stream soon. 

4. Walmart 

Walmart, which sells groceries, electronics, beauty products, furniture, hardware and clothing, also has its own ad centre. 

Here, brands can get their hands on sponsored product listings which will appear in search results or the Walmart Buy Box. You can also run attention-grabbing display ads in high traffic areas through using Walmart advertising on their website and app. Expandable, rich media and in-banner video options are all available. 

Brands can target Walmart consumers in the US and Canada. But they can also reach the UK market through its Asda retail media network. Asda also facilitates ad placements and review requests in its customer emails. 

5. Wayfair 

Wayfair sells furniture and homewares to consumers across the US, the UK, Germany and Canada. Brands that sell products through its marketplace can create sponsored product listings, display ads, featured videos, native advertising placements or custom promotions. 

Its in-house advertising platform also uses AI to customise your ad content for each customer. This aims to maximise conversions for your brand. 

6. Home Depot  

U.S. home improvement retailer, Home Depot, has their own advertising business, known as Retail Media+. This retail media network offers brands an array of advertising options, including onsite ads, offsite ads and email marketing. With 2.2 billion users visiting the Home Depot website each year, this is a prime opportunity to target customers with retail media ads. 

7. Kroger  

Kroger, an American retailer that primarily operates supermarkets, has its own retail media network, called Kroger Precision Marketing. Through Kroger Precision Marketing, brands have the opportunity to advertise directly on Kroger channels and across the web. They can also support brands with product launches, household penetration and event and promotion amplification.  

8. Instacart  

Instacart is an American grocery delivery and pick-up service that operates through a website, app and partnerships with various retailers. Their retail media network offers brands a straightforward method of promoting selected products. Within their portal, brands simply choose the products they would like sponsored, pay for the ads, and then track the performance.  

9. ePRICE  

The Italian marketplace ePRICE, offers a Sponsored Products service with a cost per click (CPC) model. Brands can select products to sponsor and monitor performance in real-time directly from the platform. Campaigns can also be instantly optimised to achieve peak performance.   


Other types of retail advertising in digital media 

1. Shoppable media 

Shoppable media, also known as shoppable content, is any marketing content that provides consumers a direct pathway to the product page or shopping cart to purchase the product. The primary benefit of shoppable media is that it meets the consumer demand for convenience. As all digital assets, including static ads, social media ads and videos can become shoppable, it enables brands to meet customers where they shop and enable an easy pathway to purchase. As 40% of marketers currently use shoppable media, it is becoming an increasingly important advertising and sales channel. 

2. OTT advertising 

OTT advertising, which stands for over-the-top is a type of advertising that is delivered to internet users through video streaming services and devices. Since they use data-driven segmentation and personalisation, they are more targeted than traditional television advertisements. As streaming entertainment online is growing, OTT advertising offers a prime opportunity to reach a targeted and engaged audience. 

3. Live commerce  

Live commerce, or livestream shopping, is a modern take on traditional home shopping television. One of the first examples of live commerce was streamed in 2016 by Alibaba. However, since then, it is quickly becoming a globally popular channel. In the United States, one of the most popular live commerce platforms is YouTube and the total revenue from live commerce is expected to reach $35 billion by 2024. With the consumer appeal of combining shopping and entertainment, this is a channel that offers ample opportunities for brands in 2022 and beyond. 

Final thoughts 

Retail media networks have a lot to offer brands in terms of reach and targeting options. However, as more and more brands take advantage of these strategically placed ads, this will lead to a competitive marketplace environment for your products. But through creating a tailored retail media strategy along with a mix of other advertising channels, brands can be sure to reap the benefits of retail media.