Retail media networks, where marketers can advertise directly with retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, and many more, are increasing in popularity because of their proximity to the point of sale, growing inventory, and access to first-party data.
What is a retail media network?
A retail media network is an asset owned and operated by a retailer which publishes advertisements, or a third-party publisher that contains ads which leverage a retailer’s first-party shopper data. Retail media networks may include websites, mobile apps, streaming services, email channels, stores, or partner assets like social networks and digital billboards.
Retail media networks may be owned by digital-first operations (Amazon), marketplaces (eBay), mass merchandisers (Costco Wholesale), grocers (The Kroger Co.), department stores (Macy’s), category specialists (The Home Depot), or delivery services that support retailers (Instacart).
Benefits of retail media networks
Retail media networks bring advertisers closer to the point of sale, meaning ads may be more likely to convert. Other benefits include:
- Access to retailers’ first-party data, which includes info from loyalty programs
- The ability to leverage relationships that already exist between brands and retailers
- The ability to capitalize on rising ecommerce sales
- Opening new revenue streams above traditional retail sales for retailers
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Top retail media networks
Of the companies Insider Intelligence tracks, the five biggest retail media networks in the US in 2023 by ad revenues are Amazon, Walmart, Instacart, eBay, and Etsy.
Amazon: Amazon is the biggest retail media network in the US by far, accounting for around 75% of retail media ad revenue share, according to Insider Intelligence’s forecast. Its share is shrinking as the market expands, but will remain huge.
Amazon’s retail media network has helped it make gains on the duopoly of Google and Meta in digital ad spend, resulting in a new triopoly.
Walmart Inc.: Walmart’s retail media network is No. 2 to Amazon by a sizable distance. Walmart is building out its retail media network through partnerships with TikTok, Snap, and Roku to quickly grow ad revenues. Walmart’s retail media network growth is also aided by its vast physical footprint.
Walmart Inc. also owns Sam’s Club, which has its own retail media network.
Instacart: Retail media is a huge revenue source for Instacart, which already dominates grocery delivery intermediaries in sales. Instacart boasts a Roku partnership that allows it to deliver connected TV (CTV) ads.
eBay: eBay has been expanding an already-strong retail media network through tech improvements.
Etsy: Etsy has a large retail media network, thanks in part to its requirement that sellers above a certain threshold advertise within the network.
What advertisers and marketers need to know about retail media networks
Retail media networks are something every marketer should be familiar with, both because of the ecommerce potential and because partnerships from these networks will touch other forms of media, including social media and streaming.
What is the difference between retail media and retail media networks?
Retail media refers to advertising owned by a retailer or leveraging retailer data. A retail media network refers to the specific, retailer-owned channels that serve retail media advertisements.
What are the types of retail media ads?
Display ads dominate retail media, but there are many other types of retail media ads within the networks.
- On-site ads are served within a retailer’s platform, like on Amazon’s or Walmart’s websites. These include display and search ads.
- Off-site ads leverage retailer data but are served through retail media partnerships.
- In-store ads are within brick-and-mortar stores.
What are some industry average benchmarks for retail media marketing?
Retail media marketers use retail media measurement to track performance indicators like ecommerce conversion rate and growth, return on ad spend, and cost per click.
Why are retail media networks growing?
With ecommerce dollars on the rise (per Insider Intelligence’s forecast), retail media network ad spend is also increasing. Retail media networks are growing by increasing their inventory and developing new partnerships.