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What is a Retail Media Network?

Retail media networks are advertising platforms provided by retailers that can give advertisers access to first-party data and allow them to reach more specialized audiences.

As marketing opportunities using third-party cookies dwindle, advertisers must look for new ways to reach consumers—and retail media networks are some of the most promising. With more consumers shopping online than ever, retail media networks can be advantageous because you’re already reaching customers in the spending mood.

Epsilon has helped many organisations leverage the rising tide of online shopping with flexible, comprehensive retail media network solutions. We know exactly what to look for in one.

So, below, we’ll break down what a retail media network is and how advertisers and others stand to benefit from them.

What Is a Retail Media Network?

In a retail media network, a retailer creates an advertising platform where their customers will see them, such as the retailer’s e-commerce app or website. It’s essentially an online form of in-store advertising—only significantly more impactful, for all parties involved.

Because retailers gather a wealth of information about what their customers buy, when, and how often, it can also grant advertisers access to extremely valuable first-party data that previously hasn’t been available. In turn, this access affords retailers the opportunity to reach specific groups of consumers when they’re actually ready to make purchases.

And new as they are, retail media networks are already a multi-billion dollar industry.

The following are all examples of major retail media networks:

  • Walmart
  • Amazon
  • Target
  • Instacart
  • Walgreens
  • Lowe’s
  • Home Depot
  • CVS
  • Ulta
  • Best Buy
  • Petco
  • Dollar Tree

Retail media networks give you a level of access to targeted retail audiences like never before, and more advertisers are taking note all the time.

A 2021 study from Merkle, “The Evolution of Retail Media Networks,” found that: 

  • 81% of consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) planned to spend more on retail media network advertising
  • 62% of CPGs had a desire to collaborate with retail media networks
  • 80% of retailers sold to brands that were not in-house

And according to a 2021 report from The Trade Desk, 74% of brands have an established budget for advertising via retail media networks.

Reaching Specialised Audiences Through Retail Media Networks

When you advertise with a retail media network, you’ll often have a variety of choices for where you can place your advertisements across the online customer shopping process.

This allows you to strategize what you want to place on the retailer’s platform and where to get the best possible return. For example, common pages to target include:

  • Retailer home page – This space, in theory, allows you to reach the widest possible audience on the retailer website. Here, you have the potential to capture customers’ interest early on before they might get distracted by other products.
  • Category page – Placing your company’s ads on a related product category page can help you reach a specialised audience that’s actively interested in the items you sell.
  • Search page – Advertising on search pages based on queries directly related to your product can be an effective way to draw consumers’ attention to your brand—and more specifically, the ones who are already looking for the type of product(s) you provide. 
  • Product detail page – When a customer reaches a product detail page, one of two things will often happen: they’ll decide they want the item and add it to their cart, or after reading the product’s specifications, they’ll decide the product isn’t right for them. To take advantage of this space on a retailer app or website, an advertiser could place ads that either complement the product in question or offer a viable alternative they might prefer instead. 

Ideally, you can capitalise on multiple advertising areas to increase connection points across the user’s digital shopping journey.

Top Considerations for Choosing the Right Retail Media Network

Naturally, there’s no single retail media network that will appeal to all advertisers.

You should strive to find a retail media network that aligns with your brand and the products and services it provides. As you search for the ideal retail media network for your business, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is our organisation’s primary goal with this advertising campaign?
  • Who makes up this retailer's audience? Will this audience be interested in our products or services?
  • What kind of products does this retailer offer? Are they similar to, or do they complement, our own?
  • Where can we place ads on this platform to achieve the desired goal?
  • Does this brand align with our company’s branding and ethics?
  • Do advertising costs justify projected returns?

The Benefits of Retail Media Networks

Learning the ropes of any new marketing channel can come with its challenges.

But engaging with retail media networks presents a number of promising opportunities for businesses that many CPGs won’t want to pass up. For example, a few key advantages include:

  • Additional revenue stream — Retail media networks are a relatively new and rapidly expanding branch of advertising. Delving into this territory can create an entirely new revenue source for your business. Naturally, it creates another revenue stream for the retailer as well. Walmart, for example, reported earlier this year that its own retail media network surpassed $2 billion.
  • Higher ROIs — When advertising in retail media networks, you’re already reaching customers while they’re in the mood to buy something. On other channels, like a social media network or a blog, you’ll spend a lot more resources directed at people who might not be in the mood to spend, then forget about the product. The results can translate to higher returns than many advertisers have seen in other channels. In fact, according to research from McKinsey & Company, CPGs and advertisers can often see as much as 3 to 5 times returns when it comes to ROAS
  • New growth opportunities — If your organisation is seeking new growth opportunities through advertising, the retail media network makes for excellent territory to explore. With higher returns and new revenue sources, it’s possible that retail media networks help you achieve your goals for growth.
  • More reliable data — Retail media networks give advertisers access to first-party data collected directly by the retailer, making it a more reliable source of information than third-party cookie data. This information can help businesses learn more about their customers and adjust their marketing approaches as needed.
  • Increased visibility — Working with a retail media network allows you to target specific audiences at specific points across their purchase journey. The best part is that with the right placement in the right retail network, many consumers are likely already interested in the types of products you sell, allowing you to introduce your brand more effectively to the right groups of people.
  • Better customer shopping experiences — Consumers stand to benefit from retail media networks as well, which is one of the biggest reasons they were projected to (and did) grow rapidy in 2022.They can create a more personalised shopping experience and allow consumers to more easily discover the types of products they’re interested in.

How to Add Retail Media Networks to Your Advertising Mix

Advertisers should always seek to reach consumers through a diverse network of channels, and retail media networks will be a key area for them to capitalise on moving forward.

At Epsilon, we can help you build a marketing approach that allows you to take advantage of the new opportunities retail media networks are creating. We offer a turnkey retail media network solution, CitrusAd, that can drive up to 40% more shopper reach.

Plus, our skilled consultants can help you build a digital advertising plan to reach and engage with consumers where they are and achieve your goals with measurable ROI. 

Ready to hit the gas pedal on your digital growth? Contact Epsilon today!

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