The eRetail Media Network landscape in the UK

March 4, 2022

What’s an eRetail Media Network?

Marketing in the eCommerce sector is constantly evolving. In addition, changes and innovations in how to promote our products in the best way possible occur very quickly. Sometimes it is not easy to keep up with these transformations – and even less so to adapt our strategies as brands accordingly.

One of the most projected trends is being carried out by large retailers. eRetail Media - here is a brief guide to understand what it is and how to invest wisely - has received a decisive boost in the last two years: the Covid-19 pandemic triggered online sales like never before and retailers saw clearly that it was time to take advantage of all the valuable information they collect from their customers.

Within this scope, a eRetail Media Network is the collection of the tools used by retailers to create an advertising platform on their website, application or digital dashboard that allows third-party brands to advertise to shoppers.

These ads can be deployed very differently. On the homepage of a retailer, on the category pages, on the product detail pages or on the search page, to mention a few. This allows advertisers to reach shoppers at very different stages and times within their shopping experience.

One of the characteristics of this type of advertisement is its effectiveness: customers see these ads when they are already shopping, so they are more likely to make new purchases than if they were doing other online activities.

This form of marketing allows retailers to create a new source of revenue. While it makes it easier for brands to better define their strategies, by more precisely linking ad spending to sales generated by them (by occurring closer to ads, it's easier to attribute a sale to a specific ad). 

The figures speak  eloquently: according to eMarketer, one in every eight dollars spent on digital ads globally in 2021 went to eRetail Media. And it is expected that these numbers will increase.

Until recently, the type of ads in Retail Media was closely related to low funnel marketing, that is, targeting people you know are about to become clients. However, some eRetail Media Networks are betting on high funnel tactics, more focused on brand awareness through innovative formats, such as digital displays and video, among others, according to emarketer analysts in a report on the main retail predictions for this year.

Other networks have their own Demand Side Platforms (DSP) - spaces where advertisers can buy the inventory they are most interested in to publish their ads - or, instead, partnering with other DSPs to publish ads on other platforms. 

As in many other areas of eCommerce, Amazon has been the pioneer in this type of advertising. The global e-commerce giant has been developing different strategies for years to take advantage of all the transactional data it obtains from shoppers who use its platforms. Worldwide, the Amazon Prime service has 200 million members and most of them start and end their shopping trip on the platform.

Top eRetail Media Networks in the UK

However, beyond Amazon there are many other retailers that are investing in developing their own platforms to market ads to third parties. Within this growth of new players, the UK market stands out. Numerous retailers in the British Isles have launched their own networks in recent months to sell advertising spaces to suppliers and other brands.

According to the specialized company GroupM, the value of retail media spend in the UK will reach 2.4 billion pounds in 2024, and various retailers want to take at least a piece of this succulent pie. Let's take a look at some of the actors who are most likely to get a piece: 


Tesco, the UK's leading supermarket group, appeared on the Retail Media scene a few months ago. In November 2021, the British grocery company announced the launch of a new business division, Tesco Media and Insight.

Tesco has developed its own platform in partnership with data science company Dunnhumby. Analysts point out that one of the keys to understanding this movement is in the more than 20 million households affiliated to Tesco’s loyalty club. An invaluable source of data to help brands better target their ads and “reaching customers at scale with closed-loop measurement”.


Last summer, another major British retailer announced its entry into the Retail Media business. The online grocery retailer Ocado, which sells its products exclusively through online channels, has developed its own platform after partnering with the specialized company CitrusAd.

The British group explains that in this first stage it will invite all its suppliers to join its platform. These dashboards, according to the company, will “offer advertisers full transparency of the performance of their media at a granular level”, allowing them to measure the effectiveness of their ad campaigns.


Another large British retail group has made a similar move and with the same technology partner, CitrusAd. At the end of 2020 Sainsbury created its own retail media platform through Nectar360, the group's loyalty, insights and media services agency.

In the second largest group of supermarkets in the UK, they highlight how the explosion of online grocery in the pandemic pushed them to develop this solution for brands and other retailers.


From the health and beauty sector, another retailer is betting on these new forms of marketing, thanks to its consolidated client base. Boots UK launched Boots Media Group last year, its own media service to offer advertising services to third-party brands.

As with Tesco's loyalty program, Boots has at its disposal personalized data from its 17 million active members in its Advantage Card loyalty scheme, who make purchases in its 2,300 physical and online stores.

What are the challenges for eRetail Media Networks in the UK 

The new players in the eRetail Media business in the UK have many challenges ahead. One of the most difficult will be incorporating these ads into their sites without degrading their customers' shopping experience. 

The balance in this field is complicated: to nurture their offer as media retailers they will have to increase the ads on their platforms; but they will have to balance this with buyers' desire to see only relevant ads when shopping. 

It should also be borne in mind that this type of marketing requires a new infrastructure, which most retailers do not have incorporated. For this reason, there is a period of learning and trial and error for most of the new players, who will have to gradually establish their strategy as a media business – without losing clients and brands from their eCommerce performance.

Furthermore, the execution of these plans is not easy. For example, it is essential to have the necessary data and technology skills to develop them. That is why the alliances that, as we have seen, many retailers are signing with companies specialized in online advertising make a lot of sense.

And finally, retailers must take advantage of all the information that their core business offers them, but always while respecting the privacy of their customers. A difficult challenge, but not impossible, as various actors have shown.


As we have seen, the potential of eRetail Media Networks in mature markets such as the UK is evident. The pandemic has pushed retailers to find a new business line to be exploited.

Brands have a two-fold challenge here. This new way of promoting their products may allow them to optimize their investment and advertising strategies, but it also makes it difficult to keep up to date with how their products are performing on third-party sites.

To help you with this challenge, book a Demo of our Retail media tracker available in our eCometry dashboard. A tool designed to make life easier for brands that don't want to miss out on anything in the ever changing world of eCommerce.

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