The Rise of the Retail Media Network

It’s not complicated to grasp the macro trends impacting retail (whether bricks and mortar, e-commerce or DTC) across the world; the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards online sales and along with that has come squeezed margins for retailers and increased pressure on physical store estate. Couple this with the growth of Amazon’s ad business ($31 billion in 2021) and it’s no surprise that retailers have become increasingly interested in generating incremental revenue from advertising.

As long as retail has existed, there have been co-op and shopper marketing tactics that have seen money change hands between retailers and brands. Fast forward to 2022 and the Retail Media Network, has become the latest gold rush and is one of the hottest trends in media right now. E-Marketer goes as far as calling it the 3rd wave of digital advertising, following two consecutive years of 50% growth in the United States.

The appeal is obvious – incremental revenue for retailers at higher margins and an opportunity to take some loose change from the pockets of Amazon, Facebook or Google, through offering compelling ‘custom audience’ segments, based on transactional insights and increasingly layering in real-time stock availability. Closer to home, retail media has taken a little longer to catch fire but catch fire it has with the likes of Boots, Asda, Sainsburys, Tesco and Ocado all jumping in to the space with an offering.

Retail Media fills a huge need from brands to deal with a perfect storm – the digitisation of the store along with decreasing TV Ratings and 3rd party cookies going away.

Building a retail media network starting with on-site is fairly straight forward and most retailers have some form of offering here but the real multiplier comes from the off-site element and the data connections with a plethora of other media bringing reach powered by data.

First party data plays a huge role in this equation as it potentially offers the finely targeting people that have a genuine propensity to buy your brand. What gets less talked about, is the complexity of going from millions of customer ID’s to a matched audience that can be physically targeted through scalable adtech. Not only does this require a lot of smarts around clean rooms, privacy, data fusion, different browsers etc, it is also a question of how to genuinely use a variety of different data sets (retailer & manufacturer data but also 2nd and 3rd party) to both enrich and create scalable reach that means fine targeting is purposeful. In our experience, most retailers will not have access to all of the engineering, data and digital talent required to be successful here which is where we come in.

The Pros of Retail Media Networks

  • Without cookies, this is next best way to get refined targeting strategy​
  • Closed loop measurement passes back info on performance but also fuels product innovation, persona development, targeting​
  • It’s cost effective to spend here if behaviour is shifting from in-store shopping to online delivery (rather than the open web)​
  • Diversification – ability to spend somewhere other than Google, Facebook and Amazon ​
  • Opportunity for non-endemics – Car brands can buy-in as easily as FMCGs.​
  • Shopper can merge with marketing to have one cohesive message all the way from awareness (CTV, DOOH) to point of purchase in store

The Cons of Retail Media Networks

  • Yet another set of digital ‘walled garden’ platforms to learn & master..​
  • ..and there will be many more before there is consolidation ​
  • Novelty may wear off for shoppers – site experience​
  • Does not cover all platforms, still fragmented buying

How does CvE help?

As experts in adtech, programmatic, identity resolution, clean rooms and 1st party data CvE has applied these skills to help retailers both in the US and UK to seize the scale of the revenue opportunity in retail media. We combine strategic, advisory skills to help define revenue potential and the ideal future state and then combine this with both technical & data engineering expertise and hands on keyboards. We offer an end to end solution to help establish or scale a retail media network.

How and where does CvE consult in retail media?

  • Evaluating the sophistication of your retail media network
  • Auditing the tech stack and laying out a future roadmap
  • Identity Resolution within GDPR constraints
  • Match Rate Trouble shooting
  • Adtech/Martech Evaluation and Deployment (DSP, DMP, CDP)
  • Data Engineering/Connectivity – stitching together 1st party IDS
  • Clean Room Evaluation/Build and Optimisation
  • Hands on Keyboards trading running campaigns for partners
  • Incrementality Measurement and Dashboarding for partners


  • Retail Media is growing FAST and the UK will follow the US gold rush ​
  • Retail data will in time power media across the full spectrum ​
  • Retail Media budgets are not just coming from shopper spend​, they are coming from digital and brand budgets
  • Retail Media Buying requires distinct skillsets – Growth Marketing, Clean Rooms, Data Connectivity, Incrementality ​
  • This trend heavily favours brands able to build in house digital capability – data, measurement, proximity to e-commerce

If you are interested to understand more about how we could help accelerate your revenue generation from retail media, get in touch.

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