5 min read

Retail Media: Top 4 Trends To Follow In 2024

Holly Shuffett
Holly Shuffett
Updated on
March 11, 2024
Ad Tech

In the dynamic realm of retail media, staying ahead requires a sharp focus on top retail media trends. The industry may be growing to $136B this year, but according to the ANA, most brands report working with just 5 - 10 retail media networks. While 60% of brands report an increase in their retail media budget, not all retail media networks will actually win that ad spend.

In this article, we’ll dive into the top four retail media trends that publishers should utilize in order to compete in the now commodified retail media landscape. 

Retail Media Trend #1: Create Customer-Centric Experiences 

Though the death of third-party cookies is imminent, personalization will still play a key role in advertising. Fortunately, retailers have a significant advantage here: with troves of first-party data, they can continue personalizing their ad and user experience. Many retail media networks are doubling down on enhancing customer experiences through data-driven insights, fueling tailored interactions across onsite, offsite, and in-store channels. 

How are retailers going about greater personalization? A report by the Path To Purchase Institute (P2PI) found a staggering 66% of survey respondents citing “omnichannel audience tracking” as a key tactic for retail media going forward. Retailers are using every channel they have to learn more about their customers. And still, first-party data will be the most important data retailers gather.

However, improved insights and personalization also comes with a caveat. Advertisers have concerns about off-site and social tracking of customers to the ANA, noting: “The risk the retailers run is overuse of consumer data, and consumers feeling they are being badgered by retailers and brands.” 

Retailers will need to walk a delicate line between personalizing experiences for customers based on their data, and cornering users with constant ads on and offsite. Customer experience should remain and increase in priority.

Retail Media Pro Tip

One way to continue personalization without overwhelming customers with repetitive ads is by utilizing customized frequency capping. If users have seen the same ad over and over, publishers should cap them on that ad so they will see diverse, relevant ads -- or even leverage first-party data models to shift to an alternative to avoid ad fatigue. 

Example: Customer-Centric Experiences 

A stand-out example of successful personalization is the rewards app Fetch, which won the Modern Retail “Best Personalization Strategy” award in 2023. Fetch used customer spending insights to provide personalized offers to audience segments and rewarded Fetch points to those who didn’t typically purchase a particular brand’s fruit snacks. By using their first-party data insights, they were able to drive spending rates and customer loyalty. 

Retail Media Trend #2: New Ad Formats to Enhance Retail Media Engagements

On-site advertising still reigns supreme, with 77% of organizations using on-site components as part of their retail media strategy, according to a 2024 report by Skai. At the same time, retailers are scrambling to keep up with new and engaging ad formats -- generic banners and sponsored listings won’t cut it going forward. In 2024, many retailers are focusing on capturing user attention and utilizing placements for engagement across the buyer journey.

This shift means diversifying existing ad formats/placements to include audio streaming and CTV. Walmart’s acquisition of Vizio in February, in combination with more off-site/in-store engagement points, like digital signage, is one example of this trend. This will create a well rounded omnichannel performance media strategy that allows retailers and brands to engage with buyers at each point across the buyer journey.

"Now that inventory is going to extend to CTV as well, and you’re going to be able to layer their type of targeting on top of CTV buys…we’ll have a little bit of a shift from thinking about the audience and towards thinking about the placement.” 
- Amy Rumpler
SVP of Search & Social at Basis in the aDotat Podcast

Retail Media Pro Tip

The key for retailers will be utilizing their unique data to integrate online and offline experiences that enhance the buyer journey, while still creating full funneled attribution. As publishers are thinking more about increasing ROI -- not just through targeting, but through engaging formats -- innovative ad units will play a key role in the attention economy. Most importantly, brands will still need to prove the ROI of these engaging ad units to their advertisers with attribution, ROAS, and GMV reporting.

Examples: New Ad Formats 

Homepage ad unit on Walmart Display showcasing a prominent orange juice brand
(Image source: Walmart, 2024.)

2024 has seen Walmart taking substantial strides in their retail media journey, but beyond their Vizio acquisition, Walmart has also launched Walmart Display. Walmart Display offers both onsite and offsite ad formats across Walmart’s web and social properties, including homepage tiles that meet users where they’re at. 

Screenshot compilation of Amazon Ads' video shelf unit featuring various video ads of the Sabre car brand
(Image source: Amazon Ads, 2024.)

Amazon also stands out as a brand prioritizing enhanced retail media engagements with the launch of their video shelf unit. Fintech brand Klarna also shows video units throughout their app experience, similar to Pinterest’s user experience. The increased popularity of video marketing in 2024 positions it as one of the fastest-growing ad formats in digital advertising, with an estimated $92B to be spent on video marketing this year. Combined with the engagement and entertainment factor video can offer, retailers should consider drawing inspiration from Amazon and Klarna when it comes to effectively capturing user attention. 

Virtual display ad screen at Tesco showcasing Duracell batteries at the end of an aisle
(Image source: The Grocer, 2023.) 

Early 2023 saw supermarket giant Tesco quadruple its digital screen network with the installation of cooler screens throughout stores. With displays equipped to feature animated content and visuals, Tesco says these media channels “can support in-store campaigns and exclusive product launches.” 

Retail Media Trend #3: ROI Reigns Supreme

It’s no surprise that the main thing brands look for in working with retailers is performance metrics: targeting effectiveness, measurement capabilities, traffic-driving capabilities, and ROI. 

In fact, 75% of brands report conversion is the most important goal in working with retailers. In allocating budgeting decisions for retail media, 56% of brands report that performance measurement is the most important factor, and 47% say that higher ROI would accelerate their spend in retail media.  

Retail Media Pro Tip

Retailers need to step up their targeting, measurement, and ROI significantly. Though brands can’t always control their traffic, what they can control is their onsite targeting, how they report to their advertisers, and how they can showcase ROI in the form of metrics like ROAS, GMV, and incrementality. 

Additionally, retailers are especially looking to showcase their ROPO (research online, purchase offline) capabilities. They want to demonstrate to advertisers that even if brands spend ad budgets on digital media, those can still lead to in-store conversions. By leveraging loyalty programs and similar user-identity tools, retailers can connect and attribute more purchases to those online and offline conversions. 

Examples: ROI 

With Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger Precision Marketing leading in these categories, it follows that they are the ones most likely to keep winning ad spend. And, with brands reporting that clear attribution, lack of consistent measurements, and lack of data are key difficulties in working with retail networks, brands must step up their reporting game in order to stay on media budgets.

Retail Media Trend #4: Embrace Innovation and New Tech

P2PI reports that 20% of brands feel like RMNs are a simple money grab for the retailer, while 43% say RMNs are effective, but no more than other digital media forms. If retailers don’t keep innovating with new formats, targeting segments, and ways to drive ROI, brands will leave retail media networks for other channels like social media. 

At times, brands feel that standard retail media units, like sponsored listings, are simply a tax or extra fee they must pay to be first on a search results page, even if they would’ve appeared there organically anyway.

Retail Media Pro Tip

Innovation remains at the forefront of retail evolution, and retailers and retail media networks must embrace emerging technologies to drive growth. From augmented reality to cooler screens to blockchain, new technologies are revolutionizing the retail landscape. 

Examples: Innovation and New Tech

Handheld inventory scanner using augmented reality for inventory management in a Walmart warehouse
(Image source: Corporate Walmart, 2020.) 

Innovation in retail media is constantly reaching new heights. Augmented reality has emerged as a powerful tool -- from Sephora’s Virtual Artist Tool to Walmart leveraging AR for inventory. With a reported 66% of consumers interested in AR for help making purchasing decisions, the applications for this new tech can’t be overstated. 

Other emerging tech includes blockchain to ensure transparency and trust across supply chains, which resonates with consumers' growing interest in product authenticity and ethical sourcing practices. 

Conclusion: 2024 Retail Media Trends Mark An Age of Differentiation

Retail media is constantly changing, meaning that success not only hinges on adaptation but also on continuous innovation to stay ahead and stand out. The surge in the retail media market to a staggering $136B underscores the need for retailers to differentiate themselves and foster a deeper relationship with consumers. 

Knowing and understanding these four retail media trends, in addition to which brands to look to for guidance, can help retailers and retail media networks drive sustainable growth and build goodwill with consumers. 

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