Retail Media Momentum Continues, But Do Retailers Have the Tech They Need?

Retailers looking to grow and scale their retail media programs need tech that can address all of their needs, in a single solution.
Updated on September 26, 2023

Retail media continues to see explosive growth, with eMarketer estimating that 1 in 8 digital ad dollars this year will be spent on retail media. While retail media has existed for years, advertisers are now scrambling to catch up to consumers who have flocked to ecommerce, and retailers are now scrambling to keep up with brand demand.

But taking retail media from a side revenue stream to a scaled media business takes significant technology investment and – for many of our retailer customers – it seems to be paying off.

In fact, Criteo received the highest score for “Current Offering” in the recently published Forrester Wave for Sell Side Retail Media Solutions. So where are we investing to ensure retailers win in the next phase of retail media growth?

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Giving retailers the tools they need to maximize revenue

Sponsored product ads remain the bedrock for many retail media programs, but since retailers only get paid when advertisers click, highly accurate click predictions are essential to boosting yield.

Criteo’s proven, AI-driven click prediction enables retailers to maximize revenue from sponsored products, and our yield management capabilities are unmatched in market. By running a unified auction, every demand source has access to inventory at the same time, driving up competition and increasing retailer revenue. Moreover, for retailers who wish to modify the auction, we recently introduced new prioritization controls that let retailers give specific brands and campaigns preferential access to inventory.

Always protecting the shopper experience

As retailers scale their ad businesses, one of their biggest challenges is balancing ad revenue with the shopper experience. Ensuring every ad is relevant within the context of the retail experience may be operationally taxing – but feasible – on a small scale, but as the ad business grows, it needs automated tools to generate ad dollars without negatively impacting product sales.

Rather than relying on manual ad reviews or risky product taxonomy-based relevancy rules, Criteo’s automated relevancy algorithms learn from the unique shopping behavior on a retailer’s site, building retailer-specific relevancy models at scale. This ensures that all campaigns deliver on the most inventory possible while staying within retailer relevancy constraints. It also eliminates the operational burden of manual keyword approval processes and ensures a true self-service experience for brands.

Supporting all ad formats – onsite and offsite – to address the full shopper journey

To maximize spend from brands, retailers need to help them address the entire shopper journey – from brand awareness to product purchase. This requires retailers to offer a wide array of ad formats onsite, but also necessitates extending retail media capabilities offsite to address ‘’top of the funnel’’ brand objectives.

Historically, retailers have had to piece together multiple point solutions to achieve this, but the challenges of managing a growing tech stack and an evolving privacy and identity landscape mean many retailers are seeking out tech consolidation.

This year, we delivered one unified platform for onsite retail media monetization, bringing together Criteo’s Sponsored Products, Display, and unique Commerce Display capabilities. We are also already executing against the vision to bring onsite and offsite retail media together. By leveraging their existing integrations for onsite retail media monetization, retailers can seamlessly enable brands to target first-party audiences across the open web, as well as measure results at the SKU level. And ultimately, we will offer brands and agencies unified, enterprise-grade self-service tools for both onsite and offsite retail media campaigns, helping retailers tap into new types of ad dollars and minimize operational overhead.

Maximizing demand from multiple sources

Some retailers have their own direct sales teams, but most rely on partners to expand both knowledge and reach. Criteo has focused not only on developing the right technology to enable retailers to maximize demand from multiple sources, but also on building teams with deep retail media expertise, creating training programs for retailer merchant and media sales teams, and forging partnerships with agencies and other tech providers.

We have built a unique ecosystem of demand partners including Pacvue, Skai, Kenshoo, Flywheel, Perpetua, Tradeswell, Tinuiti, and Marin. We enable these demand partners to create optimal self-service experiences by leveraging our real-time campaign management and reporting APIs. Retailers can tap into demand from these partners with no additional development work on their end.

We also have relationships with all of the major agency holding companies. We have no competitive conflicts with any agency, and we’re well positioned to work with every agency to support brands and maximize demand for our retailer partners. As a neutral technology provider, we are best positioned to help retailers attract spend from all sources, including both agencies and their own private markets or direct sales teams. 

Delivering robust and reliable reporting that goes beyond media metrics

Addressability to product sales is perhaps the biggest value prop for retail media, and our direct integrations with retailer sites and apps enable us to collect and process ecommerce data in near real-time for both targeting and attribution.

But advertisers expect more than just reliable targeting and reporting, they expect flexibility to apply retail data across a wide array of campaign objectives and targeting tactics. To that end, we provide flexible attribution out of the box, and brands can select from several post-click and post-view lookback window options, as well as select the granularity of attribution (from product only, up to full brand halo). All performance data is refreshed every four to six hours, including sales attribution, enabling smarter optimization. We also provide log-level transactional data for custom analytics.

As we continue to be the trail blazer in this space, we are excited to integrate insights and digital shelf analytics. This means that brands can now combine media metrics with organic commerce data to better understand their overall presence in a given category and how they compare to the competition. These insights can be used to inform budget planning and allocation, identify new investment opportunities, and optimize retail media campaigns. They can also enable brands to optimize content and inform merchandising decisions.  

Helping retailers monetize with their marketplace sellers

More and more retailers are launching third-party marketplaces, and advertising opportunities for marketplace sellers can provide these retailers with a lucrative new revenue stream.

In Q2 2021, Criteo acquired Mabaya, turbocharging our ability to serve the unique needs of marketplaces and sellers.  Any retailer who already has a Retail Media Platform integration can leverage Mabaya’s technology with no additional development work. We are unique in this market because we offer retailers the ability to provide differentiated experiences for different types of advertisers. For example, retailers can offer one experience for big brands who want more controls and the ability to buy across retailers, and another experience for marketplace sellers who want more streamlined workflows to deliver highly effective performance advertising quickly.

Providing retailers complete go-to-market flexibility 

There are different opinions about how the future of retail media will evolve. While some retailers may choose to build their own walled gardens, the history of digital media shows that maximizing brand investment requires an open ecosystem, composed of many media sellers operating on a common standard for managing and reporting on campaigns.

Regardless of how a retailer wants to go to market – whether via a retailer-specific, white labeled self-service platform, participation in an open ecosystem, or a combination – Criteo has the right tools in place to support its strategy and evolve with its business needs.

We will continue to invest in our technology, partnerships, and geographic expansion for retail media, giving both brands and retailers more flexibility and helping them ultimately drive more product sales together.

See how others have won with retail media

Discover why 19,000+ global clients trust Criteo as their preferred advertising partner.

3-7x
Return on investment
78%
Additional sales attributed to Retail Media campaign
Michael Greene

Michael is Head of Strategy, Criteo Retail Media. Prior to joining Criteo, Michael ran product strategy and business development at a DSP and served as a senior analyst covering programmatic media at Forrester Research. He lives in New York.

SVP Global Client Vertical Strategy

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