In 2023, retail media networks (RMNs) have emerged as powerful tools, propelling the retail industry towards an astonishing $50 billion market, according to AdWeek. This exponential growth can be attributed to the unparalleled access RMNs provide to retailers’ first-party data including their invaluable customer insights. In essence, RMNs empower organizations to connect with shoppers at every stage of their buying journey, whether online or offline. However, mastering the art of RMNs demands more than just a surface-level understanding of the concept.
E29 recently hosted an “Ask the Experts” Q&A event where we answered some quick questions about RMNs, which you can watch below. Then, read on to dive deeper into what RMNs are, what they offer, and how you can optimize your retail media network strategy with insights from industry experts.
Understanding the Retail Media Network Advantage
RMNs offer a unique advantage by allowing brands to tap into retailers’ first-party data, giving them a profound understanding of customer behavior. “Consider your business model, what your goals are, and your retail product placement,” advises Shantelle Wasag, Group Director, Business Development & Account Management with E29 marketing. Every retailer possesses a distinctive set of assets, and recognizing the potential of your products within RMNs is the first step towards success.
Almost any brand can succeed in the RMN landscape, but certain industries are pre-primed to thrive in this environment, including consumer packaged goods (CPG), electronics and technology and cosmetics. These platforms allow these brands specifically to showcase new products, offer promotions, and target key demographics.
Once you identify your products as viable candidates for RMNs, the next step is selecting the right platform. There are a plethora of RMNs available, each with its own nuances and targeting capabilities, and making an informed choice is vital. “Based on your product’s distribution, volume, and profitability goals, determine which channels and tactics to activate and how to allocate your budget within each RMN,” Wasag said.
However, diving into the world of RMNs can be daunting, especially if you lack experience or resources. In such cases, expert guidance can be invaluable, according to Wasag. “If you don’t have the capacity to work directly with retailers or need assistance devising RMN campaigns, our team at E29 can certainly help you navigate how to get started.”
Why Now is the Perfect Time to Get Started
In the current economic climate, adopting an RMN strategy is more crucial than ever, according to E29 Marketing founder and CEO Amie Stanley. “If you haven’t already adopted one, especially in these tough economic times, it’s definitely time to start thinking about a strategy,” she says.
The imminent demise of 3rd-party cookies further underscores the importance of RMNs. With first-party data becoming invaluable, RMNs offer a unique opportunity to engage with customers at the point of purchase, a highly desirable position for any brand. And while some organizations in your industry will likely struggle as the old way of gathering data and consumer insights fades away, those who have invested in new avenues like RMNs will find themselves head and shoulders above the competition and in a strong position for future growth.
Retail Media Networks are Still a Relatively New Frontier, Providing Exciting Possibilities
No matter what industry you’re in, the word “new” can be a little scary. For even the most seasoned sales or marketing professional, this word can be a synonym for “untested” or “unreliable.” However, the cutting-edge nature of RMNs can actually be quite the boon for organizations.
For instance, the flexibility RMNs offer is unparalleled. If a particular platform isn’t yielding the desired results, reallocating funds to another platform is a seamless process. “It really is a tailored solution based on your goals and where you need to be,” notes Elizabeth Zupkow, Senior Director at Goodway Group.
Moreover, RMNs can serve as a comprehensive solution. “RMNs can fill a full-funnel strategy if you need them to,” Zupkow continued. “They could potentially replace and enhance your existing strategies.” With the right data and a meticulously crafted strategy, RMNs can empower your brand, regardless of its alignment with traditional norms. It’s not just about products; it’s about leveraging the immense power of RMNs to craft campaigns that resonate, engage, and drive unprecedented impact in the market.
Key Ways to Optimize Your Retail Media Network Strategy
Now that you have a firm grasp of the possibilities of RMNs, it’s time to talk optimization. One of the easiest ways to make your RMN run as efficiently as possible is to create segmented campaigns. Divide your audience based on demographics, behaviors, or purchase history and customize your RMN campaigns to address the specific needs of each segment. “We can really take a very tailored approach when using RMNs because we have all of that really valuable first party data,” Zupkow says, adding that some easy segments include, “Who is buying a competitor product, [or] who hasn’t bought your product in a week, a month, six months, that sort of thing.”
Another technique that can help with optimization efforts is diversification. By spreading your presence out across multiple platforms, your organization can reach a wider audience and reduce dependency on a single channel.
In the same vein, behavioral data can be used to target users who have shown interest in products related to yours, but not exactly in the same industry. “These are what we call non-endemic brands,” Wasag says. “For instance,” she adds, “if a consumer is on Amazon shopping for bathing suits and coverups, it might make sense to be served an ad for Princess Cruise lines or Marriott hotels for their summer vacation.”
Another key to success is to analyze the performance metrics of your RMN campaigns. Though traditional metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates, and return on ad spend (ROAS), are important, Zupkow advises that organizations set their own benchmarks tailored to their unique products and goals. “Comparing yourselves to other products might be an unfair comparison,” she says, advising businesses to instead “set [their] own benchmark and consistently strive to outperform it.”
If you, like many, find it challenging to navigate the complexities of RMN optimization, consider consulting experts or agencies specialized in RMN strategies. Their expertise can provide valuable insights and save you time and resources. “Our team at E29 can certainly help you navigate how to get started,” Wasag said of her agency, adding, that advanced analytics and media mix modeling are also things they have helped clients with in the past.
The landscape of retail media networks presents an amazing opportunity for businesses to transform their marketing strategies and engage customers in ways previously unimaginable. However, the complexity of this new frontier necessitates expert guidance, and seeking assistance from specialized agencies like E29 can provide invaluable insights, ensuring businesses not only navigate this terrain effectively but also thrive, staying ahead of the competition and paving the way for future growth.
Ready to learn more about retail media networks? Got an idea that you know will take your brand to the next level? E29 can help! Contact us today!