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Top 15 Retail Media Networks To Watch In 2024 [Updated]

top-15-retail-media-networks-to-watch-in-2024-[updated]
Top 15 Retail Media Networks To Watch In 2024 [Updated]

When I originally wrote this post in January 2021, retail media was seeing substantial gains across big box and specialty retailers. And…it hasn’t stopped. Looking back nearly three years later—with signal loss and cookie deprecation becoming more real and impactful each day—it’s clear that the importance of retail media will only continue to climb. And apparently, so will the number of networks and their offerings!

To be certain, Amazon is still the undisputed leader of retail media networks (RMNs), with Walmart Connect taking a secure but distant second place. But the number of worthy networks for brands to consider is continually climbing, as are the self-service capabilities available from each that make retail media advertising more efficient and effective than ever.

So how to choose? Focus on the foundations of what a retail media network is to guide you.

What is a Retail Media Network?

Retail media networks are retailer-owned advertising spaces that allow marketers to purchase relevant digital ad space powered by the respective retailer’s first-party data insights. The ads themselves can appear in a variety of formats and locations to support different goals, including in prominent placements on search results pages, product pages, category pages, browse pages, onsite, instore, off site and more.

But back to those first-party data insights—arguably the most important part of the equation, and why retail media networks are increasing at such a rapid pace. When it comes to deciding which are the best retail media networks for your brand to invest in, start by considering which retailers offer the audiences you most want to reach, alongside your distribution amongst those retailers. More simply put, whose data and shoppers will matter most in reaching your goals?

The Benefits of Advertising on Retail Media Networks

Retail Media is technically nothing new. It’s the near point-of-purchase techniques of sampling, loyalty programs, coupons, and featured placements within a glossy paper catalog. Remember those? (R.I.P. IKEA paper catalog). Today, this includes digital marketing as well.

Digital retail media has been ramping up for years. Retailers recognize the need to not only offer experiences and convenience to compete with other ecommerce sites, but to meet the needs of brands to reach consumers in those digital spaces not previously permeated with advertising.

Google and Meta post humongous numbers in advertising revenues on their properties—followed quickly by Amazon—indicating that not only is there demand but also profitability in digital advertising.

You could say the biggest driver of why is money. It always is. And it helps pay the bills for the investment in tech.

Retail media helps retailers generate a new stream of revenue while providing advertisers with privacy-compliant access to their first-party data insights. These insights help brands reach the right audiences with relevant ads when they’re actively comparing or ready to purchase, and ultimately—you guessed it—make money. As for the consumers spending the money, they benefit by having an increased opportunity to discover new brands, as well as recommendations for products they might be interested in based on their shopping behavior.

With the number of retail media networks increasing rapidly, there are certainly valuable RMNs my list will miss. That said, these 15 networks make strong considerations when you’re ready to expand your retail media strategy on Amazon and beyond.

15 Top Retailers and Media Offerings Compared

Just about everyone with an ecommerce site and a brick-and-mortar store seems to be in the Retail Media game today, offering (at-minimum) onsite placements like Sponsored Products.

But let’s stick to 15 solid and promising emerging players—listed in no particular order…

  1. Walmart Connect
  2. Target Roundel
  3. Kroger & Albertsons
  4. Instacart
  5. eBay
  6. Wayfair
  7. Home Depot
  8. Best Buy
  9. Ulta
  10. Macy’s
  11. Walgreens
  12. CVS
  13. Chewy
  14. Gopuff
  15. Amazon

1. Walmart Connect

Walmart Inc. saw a nearly 22% increase in retail ecommerce sales growth in 2023—twice that of rival Amazon. Thanks to their vast and varied inventory, incredible brand recognition, and sizable physical footprint—with 90% of Americans living within 10 miles of a Walmart store—their omnichannel retail capabilities are robust.

Walmart Connect is focused on combining in-store and online/app-based shopping as seamlessly as possible, including through in-app enhancements to guide in-store experiences (like product location and checkout), and adding web-based reviews and ratings to physical product shelves in the store.

Advertising Details

  • Retail Media Group: Walmart Connect
  • Search Spend: For Suppliers, the total budget must be at least $100 and the daily budget must be at least $50. For Sellers, the total budget must be at least $50 and the daily budget must be at least $10.
  • Campaign Types & Ad Options: Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, Sponsored Brands Video, Social, Self-Serve Display, self-serve advertising through Walmart DSP, in-store advertising, Shoppable TV ads
  • Keyword Match Types: Broad, Phrase, Exact (no negative keywords)

Key reasons Walmart advertising is worth your attention:

  • Walmart has a high fill-from-store percentage that enables them to offer speedy shipping. These are online orders that can be fulfilled (packed and shipped) by Walmart store employees using stock from the brick-and-mortar store or stores closest to the shopper. This evens the playing field a bit with Amazon, long known for their fast and free shipping
  • Walmart also helps make shipping faster and reliable for sellers through their optional Walmart Fulfillment Services
  • Walmart is continually refining and expanding on their ad opportunities to better serve brands and customers. In 2023 alone we saw a number of impactful updates, including New Predictive Targeting, expansion of Display Auctions, and Variant-level bidding. In 2022, Walmart transitioned to a second-price auction, rolled out Search-relevancy enhancements, and rocked the industry by partnering with The Trade Desk to launch their own DSP
  • Walmart has a number of existing and exciting partnerships in the works, including with TikTok, Roku, and Meta, aimed at better targeting the right audiences across the marketing funnel, and accurately measuring campaign results
  • “In the [fiscal] year ending June 30 [2023], Walmart controlled 25% of U.S. grocery sales” (NPR)

History has a habit of repeating itself, and Walmart has a history of continuing to do big things.

Learn more in our detailed posts focused on selling on Walmart Marketplace and advertising on Walmart Marketplace.

2. Target Roundel

Target’s steady growth in the advertising space continues, bolstered in part through a superstar curbside pick-up offering, and acquisition of membership-based service Shipt in 2017—which is benefitting them in a big way today as they expand their TLMD program.

Target is applying a similar strategy to Walmart, fulfilling many Target.com orders with in-store stock from the Target store(s) closest to that shopper. Target then leverages 3P delivery partners—including their own Shipt—to get those orders in customers’ hands faster, at no extra cost to the customer.

Roundel, Target’s internal Retail Media agency, has a dizzying array of options in the display realm alone, with managed services and self-service for those that want to pay for the privilege of the first-party data—and take that in-house and use their own programmatic platform, like DV360 or The Trade Desk.

They also have offerings that include Target social channels (Pinterest, Facebook) and Google Shopping. Add in a streamlined Circle Promotions offering in the mobile app that brands can use to offer discounts at their convenience to specific audiences (or all of Target Circle members)—and an always-on sponsored products option through Criteo—and you’ve got yourself a retail media mogul.

Advertising Details

  • Retail Media Group: Roundel
  • Search Spend: No minimums
  • Campaign Types & Ad Options: Sponsored Products (Criteo, CitrusAd), Display (Roundel), CTV ads, Circle Promotions
  • Keyword Match Types: Exact, negative (Criteo & CitrusAd), automated (Criteo)

Key reasons Target advertising is worth your attention:

  • Target shoppers have shown a strong loyalty card adoption with their Target Circle rewards program, resulting in deep and valuable first-party insights brands can leverage in reaching the most relevant audiences through ads and offers
  • Thanks to their sizable physical footprint, with nearly 2,000 stores across the US, brands have an opportunity to reach and close the deal with in-store customers who may have seen their ad online, as well as click-and-collect shoppers

Learn more about Tinuiti’s Target Acceleration Program.

3. Kroger & Albertsons

Insider Intelligence chart showing US digital grocery sales share by company 2020-2024 of total grocery ecommerce sales

Source: https://content-na1.emarketer.com/what-kroger-albertsons-merger-would-mean-grocery-industry

As I type this, Kroger and Albertsons are still two different companies. However, there is a planned merger in the works pending regulatory approval, so they may indeed be one by the time you’re reading this.

It’s important to consider that this is not a large company merging with a small company; this is two large companies becoming one giant company. Once combined, Kroger and Albertsons will have more stores than even Walmart—roughly 5,000 locations across the US. That makes for a lot of shoppers, a lot of data, and a lot to consider for your marketing mix.

“The companies’ combined retail media network would be capable of reaching 85 million US households, creating one of the largest in-store media channels in the US and giving them an edge over Amazon, Instacart, and Walmart.” (eMarketer)

Outside of the pending merger, Kroger has been busy with valuable advances for advertisers, including the recently revamped In-House Kroger Advertising Platform that went live in October.

“The launch of the new Kroger Ad Platform enables Tinuiti to manage our Kroger buys more efficiently by allowing us to see everything we need for our on-site campaigns within one platform. This gives us the ability to measure, gather insights and optimize campaigns quickly to drive better performance for our clients.”

Raquel Kozlowski

— Raquel Kozlowski, Associate Director of Retail Programmatic at Tinuiti

At Advertising Week 2023, Kroger announced plans to “roll out a solution with The Trade Desk addressing decoupling” of the retailer’s first-party data to “be used for a wider array of applications” with cookie deprecation in 2024 fast approaching.

Kroger Advertising Details

  • Retail Media Group: KPM 8451 (Kroger Precision Marketing)
  • Search Spend: No minimums
  • Campaign Types & Ad Options: Sponsored Products
  • Keyword Match Types: Category targeting only (no negative keywords)

Key reasons Kroger & Albertsons advertising is worth your attention:

  • Kroger already has a sizable physical footprint with ~2,800 stores of their own—not including the ~2,200 Albertsons they’re poised to gain in the pending merger. They have also been building a network of fulfillment centers to serve markets without nearby stores
  • Kroger’s PMP—a private marketplace that allows advertisers to crack into the shopper profiles and then into the DSP of their choice to activate—provides accurate and reliable targeting capabilities thanks to Kroger’s wealth of loyalty data
  • Kroger targeting options via the self-serve platform with PromoteIQ is solid out of the box and includes coupon options
  • Albertsons has shown they aren’t afraid to be a leader in the space. Earlier this year, Albertsons came to the market saying ‘here are the standards of retail media’—ahead of the IAB standards due next year. No one had drawn that line in the sand before, and it was interesting to see Albertsons step up to the plate with confidence and definitiveness

4. Instacart

Instacart is everywhere, with 1 billion shoppable products in their catalog, 80K stores (1400 retailers) including local grocers and major chains, and millions of orders handled each year across 14K cities in the US and Canada. They also recently went public, with September’s Instacart IPO kicking off at $30/share.

A major player in the grocery delivery industry specifically, Instacart is more broadly a grocery technology company. The Instacart Platform gives retailers an array of options to suit their partnership needs, including Retailer Storefronts, Fulfillment, Connected Stores, Modular E-commerce and more.

They also handle delivery for a LOT more than groceries, with some of many notable partnerships including Sephora, Five Below, Bath & Body Works, Sam’s Club, and Kiehl’s.

In 2020, they launched a self-service sponsored products platform that allowed brands to boost that ever-important first-page visibility. Two years later, they added a self-service banner display option onsite, and a complete brand experience with pages that support images, videos, and product collections. And don’t forget coupons, hero banners, delivery promotions available through the Instacart team, plans to enhance reporting on in-store performance, and more.

Instacart is closing out 2023 strong with a number of exciting advances for advertisers, including new discovery tools—announced in November—that will help emerging brands stand out for retailers looking to add new products. June’s launch of Instacart Retailer Targeted Demand brought advertisers enhanced flexibility and control over how and where they run their marketing campaigns, offering more room for strategic experimentation through their existing Instacart account. They also recently announced a partnership with The Trade Desk that aims to leverage the power of retail media to enrich programmatic campaigns.

The biggest takeaway for Instacart advertising is how incredibly qualified the traffic is: a user must first sign in, enter their geography, be presented with a marketplace of stores available in that area, choose a store, and then perform a search in the store. You can’t get lower in the funnel than that.

“Nearly a third of Instacart’s $2.5 billion in revenue last year came from its “highly profitable” ads and software division, according to its prospectus. In the first half of this year, Instacart’s $406 million in revenue from ads and software helped propel it to $242 million in profit.”NYT

Advertising Details

  • Retail Media Group: Instacart
  • Search Spend: No minimums
  • Campaign Types & Ad Options: Sponsored Products, Sponsored Video, Coupons, Display (self-serve), Delivery promotions (IG-managed), Pop-Ups, Brand Pages, Shoppable Display, Shoppable Video
  • Keyword Match Types: Exact only (no negative keywords)

Key reasons Instacart advertising is worth your attention:

  • The affluence benefit. As noted by NielsenIQ: “Even retailers that have invested in their own ecommerce platforms use Instacart to reach a wider shopper base. Instacart’s shoppers are more affluent and spend more online than buyers from any other e-commerce retailer, according to NielsenIQ’s e-commerce data.”
  • Instacart is a forward-thinking company that is embracing the possibilities of AI to improve the brand and user experience. They’re leaning into creating tools and technologies that transform omnichannel grocery with AI, with updates to Instacart Storefront including “a new In-Store mode, which turns retailers’ apps into a companion as customers shop in stores.”
  • Instacart knows measurement matters. In April 2023, they helped make the impact streaming TV advertising has on ecommerce purchases measurable, launching the first set of off-platform measurement capabilities with Roku, a leading CTV (connected television) device maker
  • Instacart’s Direct Store Delivery (DSD) system recently received a $175M backing from CPG giant PepsiCo, showcasing the value of that arm of their business alone

Learn more about Tinuiti’s Instacart Acceleration Program.

I also recommend checking out Instacart’s tech blog if the mechanics of it all is of interest to you. If you’re strapped for time, the post on Griffin 2.0, Instacart’s next-generation ML Platform is worth the ten minutes.

5. eBay

eBay—fast approaching its 30th birthday—proved they ‘still have it’ in 2022 by nabbing the top spot in eMarketer’s first ever “Retail Media Perception Benchmark Survey” for several components, including targeting and measurement, and platform experience. (Sorry, Amazon.)

eBay’s Promoted Listings Standard ads have long helped advertisers effectively and affordably increase their listings’ visibility, and are still a strong and efficient ad solution for broad coverage. eBay Promoted Listings Advanced ads are also worth a closer look. Fresh out of beta, these CPC ads help Above Average and Top Rated Sellers secure top-of-search placement for specific keywords and keyword phrases.

“The importance of advertising on eBay is heightened compared to platforms like Amazon due to the absence of shared listing pages. Unlike Amazon, where multiple sellers offering the same product share one page, eBay assigns individual pages to each seller. This makes effective advertising on eBay crucial for standing out amidst the expansive inventory and ensuring visibility.”

Stuart Clay

Stuart Clay, Director of Commerce Strategic Services at Tinuiti

Advertising Details

  • Retail Media Group: eBay Ads
  • Search Spend: No minimums
  • Campaign Types & Ad Options: Promoted Listings Standard ads (cost-per-sale), Promoted Listings Advanced ads (cost-per-click), Display (eBay-managed), Offsite Ads (in beta)
  • Keyword Match Types: Broad, Phrase, Exact (negative keywords are allowed)

Key reasons eBay advertising is worth your attention:

  • eBay ad revenues are on the rise, projected to climb 23% by end of year, reaching ~$524M. Projections show another 17.5% increase in 2024, followed by a solid 16+% increase in 2025
  • eBay has shown their willingness to continually adapt to the ever-changing ecommerce landscape. They have managed to keep up with the wants and needs of sellers and shoppers for nearly 30 years, with many companies from the mid-90s tech revolution having long-faded into obscurity. Among eBay’s most recent future-focused moves was the acquisition of Certilogo, an AI verification platform, and their GAI Magical Listing feature, in beta
  • eBay recognizes their competitors’ strengths, and adapts to level the playing field. One example is their recently-released luxury consignment service, which operates differently from their standard model, launched to compete with sites like thredUP and The RealReal
  • eBay is the 4th largest marketplace by share of retail ecommerce sales
  • eBay is a great platform for those looking to easily dip their toes in international expansion

6. Wayfair

You don’t need a physical location to be one of the hottest locations for shoppers and advertisers alike. Wayfair’s sponsored product offering has been around since circa 2019 and is a homegrown solution. If you’re one of many brands selling through their home goods marketplace, it could be the boost you’re looking for, especially around key dates like Way Day and Amazon’s Prime Day Events.

For even more brand and catalog visibility, check out Wayfair’s Sponsored Shops. This offering “places banner ads for your brand page, promo, or browse page in front of customers to capture mindshare and stand out from the competition.”

While fairly straightforward to use, Wayfair’s offering is unfortunately a best-kept secret. And while it doesn’t have the volume of Walmart or Amazon, it certainly has its niche audience, along with a massive marketing machine backing it to bring users to the site across email, social, app, push notifications, and their Pro program.

Another interesting note is the depth of their investment in Standard Display, Waylift and Waystack—an algorithm they developed and adopted to power decision making in contextual advertising at scale.

Advertising Details

  • Retail Media Group: Wayfair
  • Search Spend: No minimums (Median bids that represent the average of all bids that have won a placement are provided. Expect to spend at least $50/day to be live all day)
  • Campaign Types & Ad Options: Sponsored Products, Sponsored Shops (product targeting only, no keywords; ad copy derived from predetermined list based on product class), Display (Wayfair-managed)
  • Keyword Match Types: Product-targeted bids (Auto) and keyword-targeted bids that include phrase and exact match give you the ability to negate terms. Phrase match is a smart match (ie. searches for ‘navy pots’ would serve for the smart phrase keyword ‘blue pots’)

Key reasons Wayfair advertising is worth your attention:

  • They’ve got just what you need! If you sang that instead of reading it, that’s my point. Wayfair does a great job at advertising themselves, which results in more people knowing about Wayfair, visiting the site, and seeing your ads
  • If your product offering is categorically relevant, there aren’t many home decor and furnishing sites that offer an audience size that rivals Wayfair, with hundreds of millions of monthly page views, and nearly 8M followers on Facebook alone

7. Home Depot

Chart showing forecasted home improvement retail sales in the US from 2023-2027

Source: https://forecasts-na1.emarketer.com/5c5dba5b8920aa0508d0645c/63fcce623a604f0b98dbd73f

Early to the game, the Home Depot enabled house projects and improvements with buy online/pick up in-store and—of course—advertising on-site via PromoteIQ for sponsored products and banners. This is in addition to email services through WorldData, a third-party partner that enables a partial self-service capability.

Their program, Retail Media+, includes additional offerings in programmatic, using Home Depot’s first-party data. Home Depot vendors can take advantage of these offerings any time of year, or during home improvement-themed seasonal sales events such as Spring Black Friday or other holidays.

Home Depot boasts thousands of brands in store and online, so if you’re looking for a supplement to your big box retail media—and it makes sense for your category—this is a diversification to consider.

Advertising Details

  • Retail Media Group: Retail Media+
  • Search Spend: No minimums
  • Campaign Types & Ad Options: Sponsored Products, Sponsored Banners, Dynamic Media, Social (including Pinterest and Facebook), Email, Google Shopping options
  • Keyword Match Types: No keyword targeting (category level)

Key reasons Home Depot advertising is worth your attention:

  • Home Depot is the #1 home improvement retailer, with a vast physical footprint—roughly 2000 stores in the US (more than Target)—and incredibly high site traffic. If you’re categorically relevant, Home Depot Retail Media+ should top your list of networks to explore
  • Much like Walmart with their shoppable “Add to Heart” series, Home Depot is showing their experimental holiday spirit with the launch of “Merry & Bright,” a shoppable content series brought to life in conjunction with the TV brand Vizio. When scanned, QR codes within the content lead viewers back to Home Depot’s website where they can “Shop the Look” they’ve just seen on the screen. This shows Home Depot’s commitment to not simply following the pack with standard ad opportunities, but finding the necessary partnerships to make entirely new placements possible

8. Best Buy

Specialty retailers have a lot to offer brands and advertisers, with incredible reach and unique advantages that are not to be overlooked. The beginning of 2022 brought with it a Best Buy Ads refresh, officially kicking off the program’s new name and revamped offerings. Best Buy continues to be a non-CPG staple on Instacart (yes, you can get that TV delivered today), and their curbside pickup option is still a winner.

Notable is the expansion of the free My Best Buy loyalty program, and the paid subscription service of Best Buy Total Tech. Both are great at collecting first-party data, of course. Their bets, like the acquisition of Great Call—a senior-focused tech company with assets such as the Jitterbug phone and medical alerts—are set to benefit the company not only in the long-term (per the plan), but in the short-term as well, as retail media growth accelerates.

Best Buy’s vast collection of first-party data (compiled over the last few decades), paired with over 1,000 brands and tech support services, indicates there’s more here than you might think in terms of potential retail media opportunities. By having an aging population focus, and tech services with their products, they’ll build stickiness with consumers in a space with less competition and a long-term outlook.

Advertising Details

  • Retail Media Group: Best Buy Ads
  • Search Spend: No minimums
  • Campaign Types & Ad Options: Sponsored Products (Criteo where available), Proximity-based in-store targeting, Display
  • Keyword Match Types: Exact, negative (automatic) via Criteo

Key reasons Best Buy advertising is worth your attention:

  • Best Buy is one of the last remaining brick-and-mortar major electronics and appliance stores, with educated associates to help people of all ages in making informed purchasing decisions. For high-ticket, often-fragile items including laptops, mobile phones, refrigerators and more, many people still prefer to shop in-store in some capacity, even if they place their order online and pick it up
  • Best Buy’s geo-based placements help in securing shoppers who are closer to making a purchase decision. It’s also worth considering that for some of the most expensive items Best Buy sells, shoppers are only in the consideration stage if they’re lucky. For example, if a shopper is planning a kitchen remodel but all is otherwise fine, they may be browsing and comparing different brands and websites for weeks or months before choosing a refrigerator. However, if a shopper is browsing refrigerators because it’s 90 degrees outside and theirs just bit the dust, they’re probably adding to cart that day

9. Ulta

Formerly known as DMPP (Digital Marketing Partnership Program), a newly branded and expanded UB Media hit the scene in mid-2022 with their 37 million loyalty members that make up 95% of their sales. (Don’t forget to connect that Ultamate Rewards Card to your Target Circle account too, so you get credit for those Ulta stores within Target store concepts!) Fast-forward to October 2023, and they announced a partnership with Meta for retail ad network measurement.

Sponsored products in key page and results placements powered by Criteo have been effective in bringing eyeballs to brands in need of a boost, especially with the ultra competitive beauty category bursting forward with what seems like a new brand-to-watch every week.

A managed UB Media offering to harness 1P data in programmatic and social channels (like FB/IG and Snapchat) allows brands to get specific with the existing audiences at Ulta, and find new ones, digging into that loyalty card information at different loyalty levels (like Diamond and Platinum), and leaning in heavy to fan-favorite retailer seasonal moments like Faul Haul, Skinfatuation, and 21 Days of Beauty.

Advertising Details

  • Retail Media Group: UB Media
  • Search Spend: No minimums
  • Campaign Types & Ad Options: Sponsored Products, Offsite Display, Offsite Video, Onsite Display, Social Media Display & Video, Influencer Marketing, In-store Opportunities (ex. In-store sampling program partnership with SOS and Rael)
  • Keyword Match Types: Exact, negative (automatic) via Criteo

Key reasons Ulta advertising is worth your attention:

  • Ulta Beauty is the largest beauty retailer in the US, with 600+ brands and 25K products to choose from, including a sizable selection from both drugstore brands and prestige brands. This varied product mix—something you’ll also find on a smaller scale at Target—makes Ulta a one-stop shop for many. Why place two separate orders for your favorite drugstore lip balm and high-end mascara when Ulta has them both?
  • Snapchat’s AR Shopping Lenses give retailers and brands the opportunity to give Snapchatters the next-best-thing to ‘trying something on’ in real life. Industries that have seen great success with this marketing method include beauty retailers, eyeglass and sunglass brands, and accessories and apparel companies. Ulta Beauty tried out the Shopping Lenses for themselves with incredible results—generating 30M product trials and $6M in purchases
  • Ulta’s ~1300 brick-and-mortar stores offer shoppers more than a convenient way to get that sugar scrub today; they’re also staffed with informed associates who can help them in making an informed purchase decision. Ulta stores also have beauty salons, with a huge selection of hair care products to choose from in the store to keep your look fresh
  • Gen Z loves them. Gen Z ranks Ulta as the #1 beauty destination, with 63% of surveyed female teens belonging to their Ultamate Rewards program
  • Ulta is continuing to invest in in-store ecommerce fulfillment (similar to Walmart and Target), and recently reported above-expectations Q3 sales and earnings. They’re also using AI to help in making the most relevant, personalized recommendations for their loyalty members

10. Macy’s

Chart showing 2023 US Retail Ecommerce Sales, by Product Category, in billions of dollars

Source: https://forecasts-na1.emarketer.com/584b26021403070290f93a2d/5851918a0626310a2c186abe

Macy’s Media Network—featuring self-service capabilities for sponsored products through Criteo, and a long list of managed service options that target 1P audiences across category, complementary category, previous purchase behaviors, contextual and more—has a few stand-out features.

In addition to the decades-old Star Rewards loyalty program loaded with customer data, the average price point at Macy’s makes it amenable to credit card or Macy’s card payments. This helps close out the loop as well as the lazy load feature of the website, meaning that impressions actually count when the user sees them. (Not all retailers are on the up-and-up with the MRC standard.)

Macy’s is also still very much the leader in the fragrance and prestige skincare spaces, and bring with them a stable of private label brands in the apparel space. Additionally, Macy’s hosts an online store-within-a-store assortment with partner Toys ‘R’ Us, and is a sister company to Bloomingdale’s.

Macy’s Media Network is a heavily managed service today outside of sponsored products, but the insights and connections to previously-run campaigns (same brand and across the category)—and comparing what’s worked and what hasn’t—is a part of their DNA.

Advertising Details

  • Retail Media Group: Macy’s Media Network (MMN)
  • Search Spend: No minimums
  • Campaign Types & Ad Options: Sponsored Products (Criteo where available), Proximity-based in-store targeting, Display, Branded Experiences, Email, Inserts, Digital Screens
  • Keyword Match Types: None available in self-service (negative keywords are allowed)

Key reasons Macy’s advertising is worth your attention:

  • Macy’s geo-based placements help in securing shoppers closer to making a purchase decision. While many people simply prefer in-store shopping at one of Macy’s 700+ US stores, it’s worth considering that others may be shopping in-person because they need that dress, suit, coat, or tie now, and don’t have time to wait for an online order to arrive
  • Macy’s offers something from a brand perspective that not many retailers can match, being equal parts nostalgic and modern. Shoppers know they can rely on the department store’s online and in-store selection for everything from on-trend holiday dresses to the must-have mixer on every baker’s wish list. They also know they used to shop there with Grandma when they were 4-years-old, and look forward to the Thanksgiving Day Parade every year. From a retailer strength perspective—considering an array of factors, from name recognition to loyalty data—Macy’s is about as established as they come

11. Walgreens

When it comes to drug and pharmacy retailers, one of their greatest advantages is locations, locations, locations. Simply put, they have a lot of them! And with click-and-collect sales on the rise, they also have a lot of eyeballs on their websites from shoppers planning to make a curbside pickup.

Boasting a ~8600 store count—and robust myWalgreens loyalty program, with ~113 million active members—Walgreens entered the retail media fray in 2020 with a sponsored products partnership with Criteo for onsite, “traditional” managed service options, and a PMP deal with The Trade Desk and Open Ap. This allows a self-service helping of their 1P data without the managed burden of timing, restrictions and minimums, putting the ability to reach a Walgreens customer that much closer. In 2022, WAG announced the launch of self-serve programmatic and clean-room solutions.

One particular thing to note is that when you have that many stores, geographic targeting becomes a much more important component, as a Walgreens customer may have more than one location that they frequent (i.e. one near work and one near home).

Don’t worry though; they’ve got that covered. Unlike many other retail media networks, Walgreens can divide and conquer. Online traffic is relatively low, as you might expect, with most shoppers going into a physical store for those everyday, drugstore-like items rather than going online and checking to have them shipped. There is a strong curbside pickup program to accompany the online sales behavior; just plan on 90%+ of the sales being and continuing to be offline.

Advertising Details

  • Retail Media Group: Walgreens Ad Network (WAG)
  • Search Spend: No minimums
  • Campaign Types & Ad Options: Sponsored Products (Criteo), self service DSP with The Trade Desk and OpenAP
  • Keyword Match Types: Exact, negative (automatic) via Criteo

12. CVS

CVS launched the CMX Media Exchange in late summer 2020. An advertising network that allows advertisers to target ads across channels using a myriad of placements is looking to join the fray with their ExtraCare loyalty program’s rich first-party data.

While CVS.com might not be where the majority of their customers shop today, customers most certainly use that ExtraCare card both offline and online. Add in activities to further close that loop—like Instacart for last mile delivery, sponsored product options with Criteo, and the ability to do programmatic display onsite, offsite in their private network and social media marketing options—and depending on your category, you may find yourself a fan. And don’t forget their paid Care Pass program, which focuses heavily on folks with many prescriptions who may need them delivered.

CVS also has over 9,000 physical stores, meaning that most sales will be in-store, and could even be across multiple locations. Additionally, CVS serves as a store-within-a-store through their partnership with Target.

Advertising Details

  • Retail Media Group: CMX – CVS Media Exchange
  • Search Spend: No minimums
  • Campaign Types & Ad Options: Sponsored Products (Criteo), managed service onsite, offsite, social campaigns
  • Keyword Match Types: Exact, negative (automatic) via Criteo

13. Chewy

Chewy’s relatively new RMN presents a fantastic opportunity for pet brands to increase their visibility with actively shopping pet parents (20M+ of whom are Chewy members). Chewy’s self-serve platform uses Microsoft’s PromoteIQ, with current advertising options limited to Sponsored Products—sponsored brands campaigns are expected soon.

Chewy’s retail ecommerce sales growth is on the rise; the retailer nabbed second place in 2023, joining Walmart on the podium with Amazon.

Chart showing Retail Ecommerce Sales Growth, by top companies, in the US in 2023

Source: https://forecasts-na1.emarketer.com/59d54f52bfce880068dd6697/5c5cf4f78920aa0508d06430

Advertising Details

  • Retail Media Group: Chewy Ads
  • Search Spend: No minimums
  • Campaign Types & Ad Options: Sponsored Products
  • Keyword Match Types: Keyword bid modifiers available, negative keywords not allowed

Key reasons Chewy advertising is worth your attention:

  • Chewy places a strong focus on autoship options, with purchases from Autoship customers accounting for the majority of sales. Autoship helps in securing recurring sales from new and existing customers who find your brand on Chewy.com and decide to opt for autoship convenience. Chewy even uses a default, proprietary LTV ROAS metric (lifetime value return on ad spend) to demonstrate the recurring impact of successful campaigns long after the first bag of kibble has been added to the cart. The LTV ROAS represents the initial purchase and subsequent autoship sales. (Remember—pets keep eating! Pet food isn’t an optional purchase unless you choose to make your own.)
  • Chewy does a great job at their own advertising, including TV advertising and those oh-so-valuable mailers, which often include generous coupons for new shoppers. This means Chewy does a lot of the heavy lifting in getting eyeballs on the website for your ads to reach once they’re there
  • The 2021-2022 APPA (American Pet Products Association) National Pet Owners Survey found that more than 90M US households own a pet—70% of the nation. Pets like fish, reptiles and birds make up smaller percentages, with dogs (69M households) and cats (45M households) taking the lead by a landslide. In 2022 alone, US pet owners spent $136B on their pets, including food, treats, supplies and more

14. Gopuff

Philadelphia-based Gopuff is a food delivery startup, offering fast and affordable delivery of an increasing array of items in select cities across the country. In addition to popular soft drinks, chips and snacks, cookies and ice cream, canned beer and alcohol, and health and home essentials, Gopuff shoppers can also add Starbucks drinks, frozen goods, items from the Gopuff Kitchen, and more to their delivery order.

Advertising Details

  • Retail Media Group: Gopuff Ad Solutions
  • Search Spend: No minimums
  • Campaign Types & Ad Options: Sponsored Products, Sponsored Search, In-App Display, Off Platform Audience Extension, Sampling
  • Keyword Match Types: Phrase and Exact (no negative keywords allowed)

Key reasons Gopuff advertising is worth your attention:

  • Gopuff has a young and experimental spirit, regularly testing new ways for brands to increase visibility on the platform. Some shoppable categories you might find on the app, each tailored to different consumer mindsets and needs, include: Better For You, Health, Gifting, and Fresh Grocery
  • Gopuff is open later than many other stores that offer similar products, operating 24/7 in many cities and larger markets. This means you can reach hungry shoppers at any hour of the day, whether you want early risers to see your waffles ad, or night owls to see your ice cream, chips, or soda ad

15. Amazon

I saved Amazon for last not because they aren’t important, but because you likely already know how important they are. Of the ~$45B predicted retail media spend by end of year, Amazon ad spend takes a solid 75% of the pie. When a retailer prides themselves on having everything—including great prices and easy returns—and ships it super fast…well…they tend to get a lot of business.

Amazon is the most-established RMN in just about every way. They were first-to-market, for starters, launching their network in 2012. And as their business has grown vertically and horizontally, with new ad opportunities and capabilities that set the standard for the industry, they’re simply too big to ignore in your marketing strategy.

If you want to reach the most people possible—with 50% of shoppers starting their search journey on Amazon—you have to sell and advertise on Amazon.

Advertising Details

Key reasons Amazon advertising is worth your attention:

  • While Amazon does present more competition than perhaps any other retailer, they also give brands an incredible opportunity to stand out with the robust capabilities offered by Amazon Stores. They also help you protect your brand in a busy marketplace with Amazon Brand Registry
  • Amazon has an incredible, and constantly growing, arsenal of first-party customer data. AMC Audiences helps in harnessing this data to its fullest potential, which is only becoming more important as we face true cookie deprecation
  • Knowing the value of their deep audience insights, Amazon is expanding their attention on non-endemic advertising, making it an ad solution that could rival even Google and Meta
  • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) enables brands of all sizes and logistical capabilities to offer the fast shipping necessary to be a true competitor on the marketplace, with a growing number of Amazon Fulfillment Centers across the country helping make it possible

And that’s just 15 top networks to explore, not even touching on retail media platforms like Criteo and CitrusAd that help brands purchase retail media at scale from multiple networks. It’s a lot to keep up with, so we made it a full-time job for a whole team of talented experts.

Recommendations for Your 2024 Retail Media Strategy

As with all advertising initiatives, there is a lot to consider when adding retail media to your marketing mix. But there are certain elements to hone in on for the greatest success: budget allocation, retailer relationships, and streamlined reporting.

Set budgets early

“Where is the money going to come from?” was the most common concern I’ve heard. It’s important to know that some budgets may be tied into different groups within a brand. I have also seen budgets that simply didn’t happen due to COVID-19 (for example, if you were planning on having samples in-store)—or, more recently—ongoing supply chain issues. If you haven’t finalized the conversation for 2024 budgets, the time is now. Most have some trade or shopper marketing dollar funded but have really evolved into their own line items.

Consider your niche

The networks you choose should align with what you’re selling and the audiences you want to reach. If you sell cosmetics, for example, it makes sense to buy ad space at Ulta, Target, CVS, or even Kroger. Maybe skip on Home Depot; even though half of their customers are women who might be in your target market, they don’t sell cosmetics. But soon, apparel!

Evaluate a network’s ad offerings

It’s important to remember that a newer RMN from a specialty retailer isn’t likely to have the same breadth of options as a larger, more established network like Amazon, Walmart or Target. That said, if you have specific needs in mind, there are a few questions you should start with in evaluating if a network will be a likely good fit, including:

  • Does the retailer you’re interested in actually offer the ad types you’re looking for? For example: Do they only have digital ads when you need in-store ads as well?
  • Do the ad types available actually result in sales or brand lift?
  • How many third-party publishers do they work with to help you in gauging potential reach?

Assess data and measurement capabilities

It’s all about the audiences. Retailers have amassed years of loyalty data through programs with perks, points, and personal information. While previously leveraged in a slow-to-scale (and rather impersonal) way, retailers can harness “people as data sets” with considerably greater relevance, and higher-quality targeting, to appeal to brands looking to generate new-to-brand buyers, foster loyalty buyers, and close the proverbial loop.

We’re now starting to look at audiences over channels. A single customer can exist in all channels (social, programmatic, Google, email, local), but how do you reach them at an efficient rate? How do you retain and engage them? Is the answer having eight different budgets and making a wish? Or is it to think about how a customer’s journey takes place, and to create touchpoints for when and where they are? (Hint: It’s the latter.)

If you think of it at the retailer or channel level—are all those audiences created equal? (For example, lapsed brand purchasers at Walmart versus Target, or the social audience of CVS compared to Ulta). They are all charged at different rates, have different reaches, and perform at different levels.

Technology, organizations, and hierarchy have to match the shift in retail media to audiences and the channels that host them. And that kind of change is hard and takes longer than six months, especially in legacy organizations that might have thought they would have more time to adapt.

Think about your tech stack

More variables are coming—more shiny objects—and if you’re waiting or hoping the retailers are going to produce what you’re looking for, you’re going to be waiting a long time. Keep in perspective that the reality we live in today is really only about 5-years-old, and we have this habit of comparing things to Amazon, Google and Meta, as these giants have proven what can be done. While true that most things are possible, a retailer has greatly divided attention, and a necessary continued dedication to the classic in-store framework it operates 90%+ of its business in today.

Consider how your existing tech will interface with the information from retail media networks. Starting at the beginning, consider what you already have in place, and what you need. Where do you need information to live, come in, and be accessed from?

There’s no one tool or answer to help you compare and contrast that isn’t Excel or a custom database type solution. While you might only have a handful of flights under your belt today, it won’t always be that way. Getting things out into a format where you can review CPMs, average ROAS, audience types, and then cross-reference that against other retailers, will give you a much better sense of the audiences as they move around, and helps you decide where that next dollar is best spent.

Ask Questions

Ask for what you want or need (EVERY time.) Make no assumptions that what you’re seeing is all there is, or that you have to draw a definitive business conclusion every time. Some campaigns will seem too good to be true; they probably are. Dig into the measurement to determine if you’re truly seeing the full picture, or something closer to half?

Build retailer relationships

Retailer relationships are tricky sometimes. Do the math, and push back if the audience size/return seems too good to be true. Have a general idea of what is possible and what is an “investment” and always ask for more in the metrics department. They’ve never done this before, so don’t assume that it’s not available because it’s not important. Assume it’s not available because no one else asked yet.

Keep an eye on emerging capabilities

Some retailers are a bit behind on the technology front. How do they close the gap? After all, they are retailers, not technology companies. It’s expensive to employ a team of software engineers, data scientists, and wizards, as well as the infrastructure needed to host, maintain, and innovate to keep up with demand and differentiate.

So, you buy existing technology, dig deep to make it, or strike strategic partnerships with the latter two emerging as the path forward for now. Every week there’s an announcement of an acquisition, a preferred partner, or a chain of software platforms to execute on a media type. For example: PromoteIQ, Criteo, and Quotient—all working directly with retailers of all shapes and sizes to enable different types of digital media— most commonly, sponsored or featured products. Makes sense. Building an ad network is not a small undertaking.

Amazon and Walmart are creating an empire of tech that their offerings sit on top of, and expand far beyond sponsored products into programmatic/display, video, and AI-enabled units at scale. They also have hundreds of billions of dollars. Walmart’s playbook has been a combination of building (Media Group, Walmart Plus, Walmart Fulfillment Services), buying (Joyrun), and all of the partnerships, notably Rover.com, thredUP, and Shopify.

Comparatively smaller—though, by no means small—retailers like Target, Kroger, CVS, Best Buy, and Home Depot have found their path forward by staying the course as a go-to destination, but also by integrating with partners, building on their first-party data/audiences, and diversifying their offerings to include social media placements, private marketplaces for programmatic, email placements, search engine advertising placements, and onsite offerings through those partnerships. (Walmart does have some of these as well.)

And then, of course, there’s Instacart—everyone’s best friend for delivery and partner extraordinaire—with the exclusion of Target, which bought delivery competitor Shipt.

The Bottom Line

So now that you have all the information, where do you go from here?

The world of retail media is dizzying at times—especially when you expand your thinking beyond retail media into the greater mechanics and interplay of the retailers themselves, including private marketplaces like Target Plus, Mirakl, and private label brands that sneak in onsite retailer search results. (And that is just the online piece.)

The next rabbit hole of retail media is: How do you connect an in-store transaction to an online ad every time? The answer tends to be an investment and structural change that can handle this audience-based approach over individual retailers or channels and their ROI/ROAS.

Want to learn more about how Tinuiti can help you elevate your retail media strategy on Amazon and beyond? We’d love to chat!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by Elizabeth Marsten in January 2021 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

This originally appeared on the Tinuiti Blog and is available here for further discovery.
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