In the United States, the growth of eRetail Media Networks could represent as much as $100 billion in ad spending by 2026. Brands selling through online channels are eager to invest more in this type of advertising and retailers have realized the impressive business opportunities and margins (in the 50 to 70% range) they can aspire to with this offer.
Amazon has been in the lead since the start, using its repository of eCommerce data to create an advertising technology business that now goes well beyond sponsored ads on its own shopping site.
Nowadays, many types of Retailers in the US such as Walmart or Kroger are also offering onsite and offsite placements with a 360º strategy. A few retailers have their own Demand Side Platforms (DSP) - dedicated spaces where advertisers can buy the inventory they are most interested in to publish their ads - or, instead, to partner with other DSPs to publish ads on other platforms.
As in many other areas of eCommerce, Amazon has been the pioneer in Retail Media (both in the United States and outside of it). However, many other retailers are investing in developing their own platforms to market Ads to third parties and take advantage of their own data from Customer Loyalty programs.
Let’s take a look at the landscape of eRetail Media Networks in the US and describe their main Retail Media Capabilities and their challenges.
The most popular eRetail Media Networks in the US
Amazon eRetail Media Network
As mentioned Amazon is not only the leading eCommerce platform in the world but also the pioneer in eRetail Media development.
Amazon dominates Retail Media ad spend right now. In fact, in 2021 the company achieved an incredible 77.7% of US Retail Media digital Ad spend.
Amazon started launching sponsored product ads, which are bottom-funnel, high-intent, high-ROAS (Return of Acquisition) types of ads that are then moved up the funnel to provide more full-funnel strategies for brands.
Covering Amazon Media capabilities accurately would need an entirely separate guide just for it. However, other retailers that have grown their Retail Media capabilities in the past years are following in their footsteps.
Walmart eRetail Media Network
Walmart is a big American retail player that has revealed for the first time their media business in an earnings report from 2021 and that has made $2.1 billion in advertising revenue, largely on the strength of its Retail Media Network is Walmart Connect.
Although this represents only 1% of the company’s Q4 quarterly revenue (which was $152.9 billion) it still proves Walmart's scale and interest from advertisers, hungry for 1st party data and purchasing habits.
Kroger eRetail Media Network
Kroger is the United States' largest supermarket chain by revenue, the second-largest general retailer behind Walmart and one of the first to roll out a Retail Media network.
At the end of 2021 they launched the Kroger Precision Marketing (KPM), a private programmatic advertising marketplace for consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands and marketers.
The Kroger Private Marketplace, powered by Kroger’s data analytics arm and the retailer’s loyalty program, enables CPG brands and ad agencies to reach shoppers by applying Kroger audience data to programmatic campaigns within their preferred ad-buying platform.
Instacart eRetail Media Network
Instacart has been at the forefront of data-driven retailers over the past two years launching Ad platform businesses that include direct competitors such as GoPuff, partner competitors like Kroger and unrelated product or payment companies.
In 2019, Instacart kicked off its advertising ambitions with the addition of paid search options for brands in its online grocery service.
Their innovative approach was put to the test when the company was immersed into the global pandemic. Instacart launched a self-service Ad platform in May 2020 to monetize a huge amount of first-time customers in quarantine.
Even though restrictions have eased since, Instacart has continued to evolve their Retail Media offer, recently announcing they will provide new CPG brand pages and a suite of display advertising products, delivering full-funnel marketing capabilities to brands.
Main Retail Media Networks in the US: a comparison table
The Retail Media ecosystem in the US is highly fragmented. Some retailers have developed their own Media capabilities, others have implemented 3rd party solutions.
Take a look at the overview below:
Challenges for eRetail Media in the US
In the US, half of grocery brands are currently using more than three retail media networks in their digital marketing mix and this brings another layer of complexity for retailers and brands.
Challenges for Retailers
As the offer from retailers around media and advertising evolves so does the competition for a brand’s budget allocation. Retailers will need to prove that what they offer is the most complete solution (and ROI) for eCommerce and brand managers.
Also, digital Ad technology and media buying capabilities are not a traditional core competency for retailers, especially those that come from brick and mortar models. These players will need to balance the role of customer experience on their sites versus their desire to earn money from Retail Media.
Challenges for Brands and eCommerce managers
For Brands, there are several challenges when it comes to adapting to this new media. One of the challenges is that there are too many platforms to manage and decisions need to be made in the right order to allocate the budget accordingly. The best retailer to spend some Ad dollars for one brand might not be the right choice for another brand in different categories.
Many resources are required to assess and activate Ad spaces on Retail Media and other channels. In addition, the skills and the experienced professionals to manage these are very limited since there’s still little knowledge around this topic and the formats available.
One of the main challenges for both brands and retailers right now is getting a trusted source of data that helps them measure the return on investment of Retail Media campaigns as its impact on a brand’s visibility.
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