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04/06/2021

What the Next Wave of Retail Media Networks Looks Like

Retail media advertising networks, or advertising networks in general, started out as a way for retailers to monetize their platforms. According to Spencer Baird of Inmar Intelligence, that’s “code for if there's a way to monetize this, let's monetize this.”
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Spencer Baird portrait

Retail media advertising networks, or advertising networks in general, started out as a way for retailers to monetize their platforms. According to Spencer Baird of Inmar Intelligence, that’s “code for if there's a way to monetize this, let's monetize this.”

Baird recently spoke about the rise of retail media networks at the Path to Purchase Institute’s Retail Media Forum virtual event, outlining where retail media networks began--and where they’re going.

Currently, these networks that enable brands to increase touchpoints with customers face off between a monetization mindset versus the shopper mindset, Baird noted. The “next wave” will focus more on the shopper, bringing “all sorts of good things” for the consumer.

So what does that look like?

According to Baird, the next generation of retail media networks will leverage a combination of data to ensure brands improve shopper experience while also monetizing. That includes a combination of audience richness, discovering more about shoppers and identifying what is being fulfilled and unfulfilled.

That may mean going after smaller audiences as a strategy for stronger returns on ad spending. Shrinking the barrels and enlarging the fish can lead to tailored deal types that benefit shoppers and consumer goods businesses, according to Baird, who noted targeting smaller groups who are buyers also leaves opportunities to target groups of non-buyers off-site or on-site. Working backwards from shopper needs as a starting point is the best way to create these benefits.

For networks, “measurement should be most prominent in terms of the value proposition,” Baird said, as brands want more transparency around how their ad strategies perform and impact shoppers. For the brands that Baird works with at Inmar, which provides media products like intelligence tools for retail media, the return on spending from these strategies is already being realized.

There are also a few steps retailers can take to create their own retail media networks, including auditing the commercial planning process, making sure data is ready and in place to serve as cross solutions, making sure technology and services being provided are congruent with the direction, and testing new opportunities. With digital advertising on retail media networks, testing opportunities are abundant.

“The beautiful thing about a website or off-site program is you can run [a test] for 15 min, or for two days,” Baird said, noting that results from an ad spend can be revealed in real time on digital platforms and inform strategy. “The flexibility in the online environment is beautiful grounds for testing.”