The Chicago Advertising Federation and The Trade Desk recently hosted a hot seat panel discussion around the latest trends and developments in retail media. Expert speakers, ranging from agency industry leads to retail media network insiders, shared forward thinking insights on the industry and their own unique takes on data, measurement and beyond.

“Accelerated evolution” emerged as the main theme of the day, both in terms of recent network changes and those forecasted to come. Below are key takeaways from the event as we bravely march towards the exciting future of retail media.

·       Brands will spend more in retail media, with investments coming from different sources. Once seen exclusively as “lower funnel marketing” or “pay to play” investments, retail media networks have evolved to offer more “full funnel” opportunities and, thus, will capture more dollars from brand marketing, shopper and commerce / e-commerce departments. And as retail media networks demonstrate the value of their offerings, advertisers will evolve beyond the “cost of doing business” mentality and see retail media as a true compliment to other marketing efforts. 

·       Control will shift from retail media networks to advertisers. Through partnerships retailers are making with DSPs such as The Trade Desk to make buying media easier, advertisers can activate retailer audiences across media channels and manage the entire process. Similar to the above, this evolution will help to collapse silos between manufacturer marketing departments. Besides more control, a major key benefit to this shift is radical transparency the industry has rarely seen: advertisers will have clear insight into the media and data costs that have often been unknown.

·       Development of retail media network capabilities will drive further adoption. Additional audience data sets, omnichannel opportunities, measurement standardization and sustainability efforts will make retail media more desirable to advertisers. Furthermore, retail media networks are showing their willingness to be more accountable to drive personalized and relevant messages and demonstrate their value, advancing their position within an already crowded media marketplace. 

·       Non-endemic brands will be a growth driver for retail media networks. The trove of retailer data on shoppers can be invaluable even to brands who don’t sell within those retailers. Knowing what shoppers are buying at mass, drug, grocery and beyond can reveal strategic opportunities to reach relevant audiences even for these non-endemic manufacturers. For example, reaching someone buying baby items from Target could be extremely valuable for an auto maker looking to sell SUVs.

The future of retail media is certainly bright, both for retailers as well as their advertising partners. The accelerated evolution of the industry across many facets will drive further adoption and prove the value of retail media. Those advertisers willing to be brave and embrace the change will be well positioned for a future dominated by retail media. 



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