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How to use retail media as your brand's secret weapon in the online marketplace.

Retail Media Networks (RMNs) have become increasingly integral to the retail ecosystem, playing a vital role in the growth of programmatic advertising and enabling brands to target consumers more effectively and with greater relevance. But the diversity and abundance of RMNs present a whole new set of challenges, particularly as it relates to selecting the right network for your brand. As CPGs set out to find a network that resonates with their unique brand identity and aligns with long-term goals, doing the work to make an informed choice is as important as ever. Below, we explore how brands can navigate the complex selection process in order to harness the full potential of retail media. 

Why is retail media important?

In the digital age, retail media emerges as a game-changer for brands, positioning their products where consumers are actively engaged. Think about retail media as the digital equivalent of a physical store's most captivating aisle displays. It's a digital shelf space strategically designed to boost your brand's visibility, just like in-store specials and promotions work to catch the shopper's eye. For example, take the impact of advertising on a retailer's website or app. Here, your ads become more than just promotions; they transform into relevant, engaging content for online browsers. This relevance is key in capturing consumer attention and engagement.

Shoppers interacting with your targeted advertisements or purchasing your products online opens the door to invaluable first-party insights. These insights are a treasure trove, offering a deeper understanding of shopping behaviors and patterns. With first-party insights, you can refine your products and messages, ensuring they resonate more effectively with your target audience.

The advertising landscape is evolving, and the importance of first-party insights cannot be overstated.

Marketers are rapidly realizing the immense value of retail media networks in crafting well-informed media buying strategies and executing impactful campaigns. According to an eMarketer study, access to actionable first-party data is one of the most important reasons CPG brands choose to partner with retail media networks. Before choosing a network, it's essential to explore what type of data you’ll be getting, how it’s reported, and what it will mean for your future campaigns. 

Key Features of an Effective RMN

Ease of Implementation

A user-friendly RMN shouldn't require a steep learning curve or extensive setup time. The ease of implementation is critical to ensuring your campaigns are up and running swiftly, maximizing efficiency and ROI.

Sales-Supported Metrics

An RMN should provide metrics directly correlating with sales impact. These metrics help brands understand the effectiveness of their campaigns in easy-to-understand terms, allowing for data-driven decision-making.

Focused Grocery Audience in Buying Mode

Targeting is critical. RMNs should present offers to an audience who is actively thinking about grocery purchases. Advertising outside this context risks wasted spend. The RMN should excel in capturing shoppers' attention precisely when making grocery-buying decisions.

Real-Time Reporting

A granular level tracking of the advertising spends, real-time analytics to optimize campaigns, and dashboards & reporting systems to measure goal conversion should all be key features of a worthwhile retail-media networking platform. Apart from the ad campaign metrics, if the platform can provide reports on data for recently bought and frequently bought products, advertisers can more effectively place personalized ads for high-volume items. 

Operational Efficiency

Retail-media ad operations are always evolving, but other digital ad operations have gone to the level of AI-based and automation-led ad operations. While choosing the retail-media networks, marketers should focus on platforms that allow programmatic ads of different media types like image, text, and video. A well-structured technical support team that provides 24/7 support and suggestions to optimize their return on ad spend makes the ad operations more efficient. 

The above features can help retailers choose the right retail media network. But in order to generate the best possible return on ad spend (ROAS), advertisers must be clear about their short-term and long-term goals. This helps to identify the platform that checks most of the boxes your brand is looking for. 

Differentiating Between RMNs

Tier 1 RMNs: Controlled by major retailers, these networks often offer limited brand control and access to shopper data. They tend to be expensive with rigid requirements, catering to brands with larger budgets and broader objectives.

Open RMNs: These networks are more flexible, providing CPGs with access to shopper data and allowing them to dictate the structure of their campaigns. Open RMNs are ideal for brands seeking a tailored approach and greater control over their advertising strategies.

Making an Informed Decision about RMNs

1. Understand the Reach and Audience: Evaluate the RMN's reach and the demographics of its audience. Ensure that the audience aligns with your target market, particularly those who are in the process of making purchasing decisions. 

2. Assess Ad Placements: There’s nothing worse than paying money for ads only to realize that it’s not occupying the right real estate. Be sure to investigate where your ads will be placed. The placement should be contextually relevant and positioned to capture the attention of potential buyers effectively.

3. Evaluate Cost Structure: Consider the cost structure of the RMN. It should offer good value for your investment, with transparent pricing and no hidden costs.

4. Analyze Metrics and Control Levels: Look at the metrics the RMN provides and assess how much control you have over the campaign. The RMN should offer detailed insights into campaign performance and allow you to adjust strategies as needed.

5. Consider Customer Service and Reputation: The RMN's reputation and the quality of its customer service are critical. A reliable RMN should have a track record of success and be responsive to your needs.

With the amount of options, it’s easy for brands to get overwhelmed and make rushed decisions about what RMNs to work with. It’s important to take the time to ensure that your expectations are met and your needs are fulfilled. This means taking stock of what networks offer ease of implementation, valuable sales-driven metrics, and access to a highly focused audience. 

By understanding the differences between RMN tiers and carefully evaluating each option, brands can find a partner that meets their needs and empowers them to take control of their retail media campaigns, drive sales, and meet their sales goals.