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Top Three Qualities to Look for in a Retail Media Network

Woman online shopping

Retail media has come far: Barely a blip on any marketer’s radar a few years ago, it’s expected to leap past linear TV in the U.S. as early as 2025, and reach $85 billion in ad spending by 2026. It’s hard to think of a top retailer today without its own retail media network (RMN). 

RMNs offer retailers a way to monetize hard-earned audiences and offset shrinking ecommerce margins. For brands, they’re a way to catch consumers in a shopping mood and deliver higher returns for their media investments. And they’re even good for consumers who get exposed to more relevant advertising with better controlled frequency. It’s a win-win-win. 

But past performance is no guarantee of future results. Fast-rising CPMs, growing media fragmentation, inconsistent measurement and budget pressures are making it increasingly difficult for marketers to justify shifting resources from other media channels to retail media. Top brands are currently working with five or more RMNs, according to the ANA, but keeping all the plates spinning is a challenge. 

To keep their media mixes from becoming unwieldy, many brands are starting to take a closer look and consolidate their retail media buys around a few trusted partners. Out of all the options out there, how would you pick the RMNs that are the best fit for your business? 

Here are three top qualities to look for in a retail media partner. 

Best-in-class identity and audience activation solutions 

Many brands build their first-party data via newsletters and loyalty programs, and they have little more than a name and an email address for their customers. When you onboard your customer data to an RMN platform, the last thing you want is half of that data to get lost in the shuffle because the retailer doesn’t match well on name and email or has an old address on file for your customers. 

Brands rely on their retail media partners to leverage an identity graph that can provide high accuracy and match rates, help them create and activate audiences, and deliver results that move the needle. RMNs that implement top-of-the-line identity and audience activation solutions have a serious edge over the competition. 

A secure environment for data collaboration 

Search, email, social, CTV, out-of-home, retail media. The customer journey has become incredibly complicated over the past few years. Shoppers have more channels to buy what they need, more ways to consume the content they want, and many tools at their fingertips to skip ads if they find them intrusive or irrelevant. Brands looking to reach them and hold their attention better bring their A-game. 

That’s why RMNs are so compelling. They offer rich, transaction-based audience insights you can use to develop custom segments, improve your ad placements, and bring more relevant offers to your prospects. But only if those insights can be properly pseudonymized and shared in a secure environment, like a data clean room. Data privacy is table stakes in marketing today, and you should only invest in RMNs that take it seriously. 

Comprehensive measurement solutions 

Most media channels offer their own metrics and point solutions to measure success on their platforms. While there’s value in measuring what makes each channel unique, there’s even greater value in measuring what they have in common, and how they all contribute to further the brand’s objectives. 

Cross-channel measurement is a giant jigsaw puzzle that requires sophisticated — and data-intensive —analytics solutions like marketing mix modeling (MMM), marketing attribution, and incrementality testing. Transparency and access to granular exposure and outcomes data are paramount. Make sure you work with RMNs that provide you with the raw data you need to properly attribute success and optimize your campaigns — not just across retail media but across all channels in your media plan. 

At TransUnion, we’re big believers in retail media and the unique benefits it brings to the modern advertising landscape, especially on the eve of the deprecation of the third-party cookie. But not all RMNs are created equal. 

It’s time for you to pick the right retail media partners for your business. 

Learn more about what the best RMNs have in common in our latest eBook: Your Retail Media Rocket Is in Orbit. Now What?

Do you have questions? Our team is ready to help.