IAB’s Retail Media Buyer’s Guide

The IAB’s Retail Media Buyer’s Guide promotes collaboration among retailers, brands, and agencies to streamline ad targeting goals in Retail Media Networks.  

Retail Media is a relative newcomer to the ad tech ecosystem, but in its short existence, it gained widespread popularity. It can provide brands with highly targeted advertising opportunities and a lucrative retailer revenue stream. 

It is a form of digital advertising that enables brands to promote their products within a retailer’s e-commerce platform or physical store. It offers shoppers targeted advertisements and sponsored content, capitalizing on customer data and analytics to reach potential buyers. 

Despite its success and proven value to the advertising landscape, there have been challenges with RMNs reaching their full potential. For one, brands must establish a distinct value proposition to attract incremental investment in RMNs, blurring the lines between brand building and performance marketing. Additionally, agencies need help building capable teams and guiding clients in the RMN ecosystem. 

“Retailers transforming into retail media networks must excel as publishers and ad networks, with a focus on data management, media, and ad tech—areas beyond their traditional core functions,” said  Jeffrey Bustos, VP, Measurement, Addressability and Data, IAB. “Establishing dedicated RMN teams is crucial, and a compelling value proposition becomes indispensable in attracting ad agencies and brand advertisers, especially amidst a plethora of options.”

The IAB created the Retail Media Buyer’s Guide to address these issues. But as Retail Media has emerged as a robust privacy compliance tool, we know the medium is here to stay. It is now up to key stakeholders to collaborate to ensure RMNs benefit all involved parties.

Planning for Retail Media

In the era of commerce media, effective planning for retail media relies on retailers and brands working closely together to align business goals and target audiences. Brands must thoroughly comprehend their target audience, media consumption patterns, and behavior throughout the customer lifecycle. Integrating retail media into the brand’s overall strategy is paramount to ensure successful full-funnel planning.

Within retail media networks, diverse solutions are available to optimize performance and achieve business objectives. These networks leverage first-party data to create customized audiences and extract valuable insights into shopper behavior. Brands should break free from the misconception that retail media focuses solely on conversions and instead recognize its potential for forging strong partnerships with retailers and gaining access to first-party data.

A well-executed plan involves:

  • Being flexible in budget allocation.
  • Continuously optimizing performance.
  • Effectively reaching customers at different stages of their shopping journey.

The use of closed-loop measurement in retail media empowers advertisers with a comprehensive understanding of the customer journey and the actual impact of their advertising endeavors.

Fostering Collaboration for Retail Media Strategies

Effective retail media strategies require close collaboration among retailers, brands, and agencies, moving beyond mere information sharing to cohesive execution throughout the planning process.

“Collaboration can be fostered through stakeholder mapping, joint business planning, educating on capabilities, breaking down silos between teams/companies, and agencies partnering with retailers on strategy,” said Bustos. “Fluid budgeting and integrated planning prevent duplicated efforts. Open communication and transparency help create seamless partnerships between retailers, brands, and agencies.”

Stakeholder mapping and transparent conversations are crucial to ensure seamless media partnerships to accomplish this. Here are the IABs suggestions: 

Joint Business Plan Negotiations: Joint business plans (JBPs) facilitate collaborative planning between retailers and suppliers, aligning on short-term and long-term objectives, financial goals, growth, and shared business initiatives. JBPs can strengthen relationships between brands and retailers and are co-created based on objectives and priorities from both sides. 

Changing Dynamics and Collaboration Across Retailers, Brands, and Agencies: Organizations should ensure alignment and collaboration between channel and trade marketing and media planning efforts to avoid duplication and maximize efficiency. Successful retail media buying relies on understanding the shopper path, leveraging consumer insights from trade marketing teams, and fostering closer connectivity between agencies and retail media networks (RMNs).

Retail Media Briefing Process: Brands, agencies, and retailers should brief retail media as an individual touchpoint within the overall brand planning process and a commercial and retail strategy driver. The briefing process will vary by brand and advertiser but may include documents like the brand, campaign, and retailer briefs outlining objectives, target audience, messaging, and creative strategies. Understanding the retailer media planning timeline is essential to ensure timely launch dates.

Developing an Effective Retail Media Audience Strategy

Developing an effective retail media audience strategy involves identifying the core audience that aligns with business objectives and understanding their shopping behavior. Brands and agencies should define KPIs, and audience mapping to objectives is crucial. Integration with the overall marketing strategy is essential for a seamless approach.

Additionally, using first-party data is increasingly important in retail media networks due to the depreciation of third-party cookies. Brands should explore advanced data sharing and collaboration options with retailers while considering privacy concerns. Understanding data capabilities, such as taxonomy, technology, and flexibility, helps media buyers make informed decisions. Retailers can offer self-serve platforms, such as Kroger’s self-serve in-house platform, or managed services for data activation to cater to different buyer preferences.