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Sizing up the retail media potential of in-store, streaming, and social media audiences

The vast majority (81.5%) of retail media ad spend will go toward on-site formats this year, per our October 2023 forecast. As advertisers seek to target consumers whenever and wherever possible, other formats are emerging, particularly in-store, streaming, and social.

Here are audience insights across these channels and the role they play in the larger retail media landscape.

1. In-store

In-store audiences are, on average, 84% greater than digital audiences, retail media expert Andrew Lipsman calculated during one of our Meet the Analyst Webinars last year, based on March 2023 data from Placer.ai and Comscore.

  • Walmart, with its massive physical footprint, has a monthly audience reach of 194.2 million unique visitors in-store and 126.5 million unique visitors online (the largest out of the retailers measured).
  • Target has the second-largest audience, with 111.3 million monthly visitors in-store and 61.1 million online.

But it’s not just audience volume that advertisers should care about—it’s all about the setting.

  • When consumers are in-store, they are in “buying” mode. Some may not purchase during that specific visit, but they are using the in-store experience to browse, compare, and learn more about products.
  • By targeting consumers in an active state of browsing, advertisers have a better chance of engaging with them and getting them to make a purchase.
  • In addition to boosting brand awareness, in-store retail media can help answer customer questions, aid them in price comparisons, and even allow them to trial a product without having to make a purchase.

2. Streaming

While consumers are less likely to be in buying mode while streaming media, there’s an opportunity to raise brand awareness, or, with shoppable ads, to inspire a purchase.

Some 250.5 million US consumers will use an OTT video service (i.e., any app or website that provides streaming video content over the internet) this year, representing 73.3% of the population, per our September 2023 forecast.

  • YouTube is the top OTT provider, with 241.8 million viewers this year. Netflix comes in second (173.7 million), followed by Amazon Prime Video (163.6 million), Hulu (130.7 million), and Disney+ (115.8 million).
  • In time spent, Netflix takes the No. 1 spot, with viewers spending an hour per day on the platform, followed by Hulu (53 minutes), YouTube (50 minutes), Disney+ (23 minutes), and Prime Video (21 minutes).

To capitalize on this massive audience, many retailers are exploring ad opportunities within streaming.

3. Social

US adult social media users will spend an average of 1 hour and 48 minutes per day with social networks in 2024, per our June 2023 forecast.

  • Adult TikTok users will spend 55 minutes per day with the platform in 2024, the most time any social platform’s users spend.
  • Instagram comes in second, with users spending 33 minutes per day on the platform, followed by X (formerly Twitter) at 32 minutes per day.

Like streaming, social media can be used to drive awareness, but it can also be used to push conversions with the addition of shoppable ads. But unlike streaming, each platform attracts different demographics for different reasons.

  • Gen Z tends to gravitate toward Snapchat and TikTok, the first for messaging and the second for entertainment, according to our US Digital Habits by Generation report.
  • YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are the top platforms for millennials by users, but Gen Z is expected to overtake millennials on Instagram this year. Though millennials aren’t as open to new platforms as Gen Z, they have adapted to changes like Instagram Reels and social commerce with ease.
  • Gen Xers spend their time on YouTube and Facebook, taking a utilitarian approach to digital channels by adopting digital platforms that make a task faster and easier. They use YouTube for education and entertainment and Facebook for communication with family.
  • Adults ages 55 to 64 spend more time than any other generation on Facebook, signaling the platform is still where baby boomers feel the most comfortable. They’re also prolific digital buyers.

No matter the platform, brands should leverage creators and influencers to connect with consumers via social media. This is especially true for beauty and personal care; clothing, shoes, and jewelry; and home and kitchen brands, the leading categories that US adults purchased after seeing products promoted by influencers, per a July 2023 Feedvisor survey.

The bottom line: Search and display will remain valuable retail media formats for the foreseeable future. But by pairing these on-site formats with off-site ones across streaming and social media to boost brand awareness, in-store retail media can help drive more conversions, creating a full-funnel effect.

This was originally featured in the Retail Media Weekly newsletter. For more retail media insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.