The Future of Modern Marketing: Why Retail Media Networks & Automation Are Essential for Success

By Susan Linney

KEY TAKEAWAY

With retail media networks (RMN) on the rise, automation has become a necessity for all retail marketers. No longer just a tool for optimizing operational efficiency, it can be used to drive customer purchasing decisions at the most influential levels.
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In 2020, as consumers quickly began adopting new shopping habits to accommodate peak stay-at-home pandemic life, retailers were forced to expand their digital platforms to stay connected to consumers. Retail Media Networks (RMN) surged as a result, providing brands with an easy and effective way to engage their audiences across multiple channels in highly targeted and personalized ways.
 
Almost two years later, as we transition into an endemic era reliant on omnichannel shopping experiences, RMNs have become a critical marketing component for all brands and retailers. They offer a scalable solution for promoting growth and future-proofing businesses in today’s fast-evolving marketing landscape, where retailers must be able to meet shoppers wherever they are to succeed. RMNs provide that reach while maximizing first-party data usage and unlocking new revenue streams. Automation and RMNs are no longer niche tools for brand and retail marketers — they are absolute necessities.

What Is a Retail Media Network (RMN)?

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A retail media network is an advertising platform set up on a retailer’s digital network. It gives partnering brands the ability to place ads on a retailer’s website, app, and other digital properties. Essentially, it’s like an e-commerce version of in-store advertising, allowing consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands such as Listerine or L’Oreal to feature their ads on relevant retail sites like CVS.com or Walgreens.com. Other top RMNs include Amazon, Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Target, Wayfair, Instacart, and Best Buy.

As COVID drove more and more consumers to embrace online and in-app shopping, RMNs exploded and continue to rise in popularity today. According to eMarketer, retail media ad spend in 2021 was up 53.4% over 2020, with the majority coming from e-commerce channels. That spend is expected to exceed a whopping $50 billion in 2023.

In addition to the surge in e-commerce, RMN platforms are extremely effective because they enable brands to target users who are actively engaged in shopping and highly receptive to ads. There’s no better time to get your product in front of a consumer than when they are literally clicks away from conversion. 

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And unlike traditional ad networks, RMNs offer retailers an additional revenue stream via the monetization of their first-party consumer data. Partnering brands can use this data to optimize their campaigns with personalized ads targeted to different audience segments, measure ROI more accurately, and ultimately boost their bottom line. As third-party cookies are eradicated and the collection of robust first-party data becomes vital to modern marketing success, the essentiality of RMNs for retailers and brands will only continue to grow.
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A quarter of retailers reported receiving more than $100 million in revenue from their media networks in 2021. 

At the end of the day, RMNs offer big benefits for consumers, retailers, and brands alike:
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Consumers receive highly personalized ads that blend seamlessly into their shopping experience and show them exactly what they want to buy.

Retailers can earn more advertising and product revenue while also monetizing their first-party data and scaling their programs to more consumers.

Brands get a boost in product visibility and channel reach, and gain access to valuable consumer data that can be used to power high-performance ads.

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Why Automation Is a Must

Things move fast in the media space, and many retailers eager to take advantage of RMNs may find themselves blocked by limited time and resources. Lacking the in-house capabilities necessary to efficiently leverage data, their challenge becomes creating ads quickly and in large enough volumes to be effective for RMNs. To accomplish this, retailers must ditch inefficient and error-prone manual processes in favor of automation — it’s the only way to deliver personalized, relevant messages at scale.

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Automating data analytics systems, for example, is imperative. Consumer data streams are growing larger, faster, and more complex by the minute, and the insights they produce may only be accurate for a short time. Establishing a real time data and insights strategy gives brands the ability to identify new trends and make adjustments to in-flight ad campaigns to improve performance and increase the return on ad spend.  

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The value of the retail automation market is projected to reach $23.58 billion by 2026.

Order-to-cash (OTC) is another area where automation has become critical, especially for RMNs. As they continue to expand rapidly with large and ever-growing volumes of daily, short-lived ad placements, order volume is starting to out-scale manual processes for executing campaigns. The solution? Streamlining ad placement campaign cycles with automated order-to-cash workflows, which will enable them to complete order cycles and recognize revenue faster.

Leveraging the Power of Dynamic Creative Optimization

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Possibly one of the most powerful forms of adtech when it comes to digital advertising, dynamic creative optimization (DCO) utilizes machine learning to optimize ads in real time based on user engagement. It’s a fully automated technology that gives marketers the power to deliver hundreds of ad variations at scale while simultaneously testing and tweaking CTAs, copy, images, and other components to continuously improve performance.
There’s no reason for retail marketers not to take advantage of DCO, as it essentially ensures the production of continuously optimized, high-impact ads without any manual labor. It also gives brands the ability to deliver highly personalized creatives in massive volumes across multiple channels, which is exactly what’s needed for a retail media network to succeed. Implementing DCO and automating processes like OTC is a sure fire way to optimize and future-proof your business for scale.

Future-Proof Your Business With RMN & Automation

With retail media networks on the rise, automation has become a necessity for all retail marketers. No longer just a tool for optimizing operational efficiency, it can be used to drive customer purchasing decisions at the most influential levels. As technology and the retail landscape continue to evolve at unprecedented speeds, brands and businesses need to be able to reach more people on as many channels as possible. Without a solution to streamline and scale, it’s only a matter of time before slow-to-adopt retailers get left in the dust.
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