Retail Media Networks: How they’re changing the ad tech game — and how they’ll evolve

The ad tech space is abuzz with talk of retail media networks (RMNs). What are they? And how do marketers choose which is the best fit for their needs? It turns out, one of the largest developments in the privacy-compliant data-sharing industry is happening behind retailers’ doors just as third-party cookies are being phased out — clearing a path to success for marketers who prioritize permissioned data.

Retail media networks leverage first-party transaction and receipt data to target, deliver and measure ad campaigns. Yes (perhaps inevitably), the country’s largest retailers have become their own data companies. Megastores like Amazon, Kroger, Walmart and Target are touting technology that allows advertisers to finally “close the loop” on spend with real-time transaction data.

Perhaps it’s unsurprising that the retail giants with the deepest pockets are expanding into this technology. But what may surprise you is how quickly the RMN sector, now a $50 billion market, has taken off — making it one of our top trends to watch this year.

Let’s take a closer look at how retail media networks operate, and how the industry is already evolving to help brands drive better outcomes.

Closing the loop

Retail media networks address several pervasive challenges that comes along with digital, including the reliance on opaque data sources and lack of insight into ROAS and ad effectiveness. RMNs offer the ability to target people who are deterministically in-market for a product, with near-instant, privacy-compliant performance measurement.

For example, a beauty brand that’s released a celebrity-studded campaign or a series of ads through multiple channels can gauge how consumers are responding in real-time based on purchases at a specific retailer, and adjust campaign targeting as necessary. The brand may also receive access to customer data the retailer has gathered directly through loyalty accounts and other avenues, allowing the brand to construct a basic customer profile with demographic data points and past shopping behavior.

The existing shortcomings of retail media networks

For the most part, marketers interact with RMNs in silos, since each store is its own network with its own technology. In the above beauty brand example, a makeup company might buy into Target, Walmart and Amazon’s RMNs to receive shopper data from each retailer separately. It would then be up to the beauty brand to piece those three data sets together to tell the complete story of a customer’s journey. While RMNs are extremely valuable, engaging with each platform separately adds even more work to the plates of busy media professionals.

Furthermore, capturing sales at retailers with RMNs is only part of the picture. The example beauty brand will see purchases at Walmart and Target, but not CVS or Rite Aid, which could encompass a large share of sales. They also have no insight into their customers’ shopping behavior outside of that retailer.

Knowing how a customer interacts with your brand at a single destination is far from having the full picture of where — and what — that same customer is purchasing in the course of their day (especially when it comes to competing retailers).

More is more

In many ways, Attain is an evolution of RMNs. It serves as a retailer-agnostic RMN that redefines what shopper data can be and how marketers use it — but it’s so much more than that.

Through its first-party, fully permissioned and cookieless commerce data, Attain offers a limitless view of millions of customers as they shop your brand across multiple merchants, verticals and retailers — not just one — so you have a more complete picture of their spending habits and how they’re responding to advertising in real-time.

Through access to this data, Attain empowers marketers to confidently execute campaigns with a comprehensive approach across insights, activation and measurement:

  • Insights: Gather rich and real-time insights with consumer-permissioned commerce and survey data
  • Activation: Activate fully customizable programmatic segments using consumer-permissioned, first-party data
  • Measurement: Measure outcomes with first-party, permissioned commerce data and get real-time visibility into ROAS and conversion rates

In a class of its own, Attain’s data platform makes it possible for marketers to do more: more targeted experiences, more personalized content, and access to permissioned commerce data from more retailers.

Key takeaways

In 2023, the extent of marketers’ digital transformations in response to changing privacy regulations will become clear. Those with a well-defined first-party data strategy and the technology to back it will thrive. It’s also key that incoming customer data be deterministic, rich and of the highest quality. Attain gives you access to permissioned commerce data across any merchant and vertical — not just one — which means you’ll know more about your consumers — like where they shop, what they buy, what kind of car they drive — than any one retailer does.

About Attain

Attain is a comprehensive consumer data platform for marketers that provides them with access to first-party commerce data of millions of consumers who have opted-in and given their permission. Attain’s platform empowers its partners to leverage better data for insights, programmatic media and measurement — ultimately driving better business outcomes.