New study indicates retailers are doubling-down on retail media networks | Sponsored Content

This article was contributed and sponsored by Inmar Intelligence.


Five years ago, retailers were asking, “Should we start a retail media network (RMN)?” Three years ago, it shifted to, “When should we start an RMN?” In 2021 it’s, “How quickly can we grow our RMN?” The reason for the new focus all boils down to one word—profits.

At first, RMNs were completely focused on increasing shopper engagement and sales. However, it didn’t take long for retailers to realize that there are additional ways to profit from their retail media investments. Today more and more retailers are selling profitable ad space to other brands and CPGs—and deciding to expand their networks to generate even more sales.

RMN ad revenue is growing.

In a December 2020 survey, we asked retail professionals about their retail media networks. One of the questions was about ad revenue, and the results aren’t surprising. Thirty-four percent of respondents anticipate revenue growth rates between 26% to 75%, and 8.5% believe their ad revenue will grow more than 74%.

In a climate of increasing competition and decreasing margins, this kind of growth will capture the c-suite’s attention. It’s also going to capture more investment.

Now that RMNs have become profit centers, retailers are investing more to grow these networks.

Another question we posed in our survey focused on budget allocation. Again, based on the revenue growth projections, the responses make perfect sense. The majority of respondents indicated that they plan to increase their budget allocations for RMN sales teams. In fact, 58% said they plan to expand those teams this year.

However, if retailers want to grow sales, they’re also going to have to increase value for the brands and CPGs. That means larger networks reaching more shoppers with even more personalized offers.

Today’s investments are all about visibility, measurement, and control.

One of the core reasons retail media networks have been able to thrive is measurability. In the early days, retailers were able to measure the effects of content on engagement and sales. Then, as RMNs matured—and brands and retailers took an interest—those same retailers were able to sell ad space based on measurable ROI.

Now, as customers become more sophisticated, retailers are nuancing their networks to be more hands-on for greater visibility, flexibility, and control. They’re also investing in features that can help them engage shoppers in new ways and in more places.

In this chart taken from our survey, you can see how retailers plan to expand and strengthen their RMN capabilities in 2021.

RMNs are a profit powerhouse, and here to stay.

Anyone who believed that RMNs were a “here today, gone tomorrow” fad can now see the truth. Not only have RMNs proven effective, they’re quickly proving essential.

To read more responses to our survey, and see what retailers are planning for their retail media networks in 2021, check out our RMN survey here.

— Steve Ustaris, Vice President, Marketing, Retail Cloud, Inmar Intelligence