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3 questions brands should ask before working with retail media networks

The retail media landscape is vast—and growing. Brands can’t work with every retail media network (RMN), but they should find the right ones for their objectives. That starts with asking the right questions.

Your brand likely won’t have the same resources that an RMN can offer, so building strong partnerships is vital. “Nestlé is not a technology company,” Carolyn Han, senior Manager of digital media and audience strategy at Nestlé USA, said at Advertising Week New York 2023. “So in terms of evaluating scalable measurement solutions, [for us] this means the correct partners [have solutions] for identity resolution and for targeting.”

Here are some questions to consider before working with an RMN.

1. Can you deliver the metrics my brand prioritizes?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the volume of data, look at what’s the most important for your brand rather than taking on every channel, every measurement, every option, said Kristina Ciampi, head of measurement, go-to-market at Amazon.

“Question specifically how is it that we’re going to get and prove success,” said Han, whether that be ROI, return on ad spend, incremental sales lift, brand awareness, or something else.

Use that objective to determine which RMNs to work with, the cadence of insights needed, and the level of granularity required for understanding campaign effectiveness.

Watch out for inconsistencies within methodology across RMNs, Han warned. For example, when focusing on a metric like sales lift, question RMNs to understand if that metric is incremental, household, or something else.

2. Can you marry in-store and on-site data?

Despite 23.2% growth in US omnichannel retail media ad spend YoY, ecommerce still accounts for just 15.6% of all retail sales, according to our forecast. That figure dips to 7.1% when it comes to food and beverage.

“A lot of CPG [consumer packaged goods] companies, specifically, [we] don’t have transactional data at our fingertips. We don’t have a lot of D2C specifically with our brands,” said Han.

That means brands like Nestlé need to ask RMNs if they have measurement solutions that account for in-store purchases, so brands can understand how online ads contribute to in-store sales and vice versa.

“Not only do they have to provide seamless and frictionless cross-channel experiences, but they have to be able to measure accurately across all of these points as well,” said Amazon’s Ciampi.

3. Can you deliver data while campaigns are in-flight?

Retail media data can’t wait until after campaigns. Getting data in as close to real time helps retailers innovate while campaigns are in action, in order to emphasize what is working and tweak what isn’t, said Jeffrey Cohen, tech evangelist at Amazon Ads.