By Ian Darby, journalist

November 13, 2023 | 9 min read

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Retail media's rapid growth has stemmed mainly from its strengths in terms of performance - but there's more to come, say experts from Deliveroo and Criteo.

Exploring retail media’s full-funnel future.

Exploring retail media’s full-funnel future.

Hardly a week goes by without mention of a new retail media network springing into life. Retailers of all shades are working out how to maximize revenue from their data assets and media inventories, while brands are eager to connect with customers in more effective ways.

Such are the attractions of the retail media environment that revenue growth in the field is expected to hit 25% in 2023, and total spend in the UK to reach £6.5bn in the UK by 2027, according to GroupM.

With this context in mind, Alex Prouhet, global director of commercial and operations at Deliveroo Advertising, and Nicole Kivel, managing director, Northern Europe, at Criteo sat down with The Drum's Hannah Bowler to discuss exponential growth in retail media and what this means for advertisers.

Watch the video at the top of this page. 

The debate also focused on lessons learned by retailers when building their own retail media propositions, and what's required for brands to make the most effective use of the environment beyond targeted promotions.

Deliveroo started a year ago on developing its own media and e-commerce practices, working with the support of Criteo. Prouhet says the business has come a long way in that time, especially on the operational and measurement fronts. He sees this at a broader industry level too: "It’s definitely been a conversation with media owners and advertisers at the highest levels of organizations. I think it's been a transformative year for this channel."

Broader brand messages

Also setting the scene, Criteo's Kivel described how retail media is moving beyond a strong point-of-sale proposition towards driving full-funnel activations: "It has the capabilities when it comes to reaching an awareness tactic, for brand-building."

While this is good news for retailers looking to monetize their assets, Kivel argues that advertisers considering retail media should aim to understand how it fits coherently into a broader mix: "Really understanding the benchmarks for success, whether it’s reaching a shopper in market, or leveraging that retail data to bring broader brand messaging out there."

In terms of working with brand partners to maximize the impact of retail media, Prouhet cites a collaboration with Coca-Cola to test both the impact of display banners on the Deliveroo website and then sponsored products within menus. This reached both general consumers interested in a restaurant takeaway or grocery order but also kept Coca-Cola top of mind with more engaged consumers through the sponsorship.

In terms of implementing this full-funnel approach, Criteo has just launched a commerce demand side platform (DSP), named Commerce Max. This helps advertisers activate solutions throughout the customer journey on a single platform with AI-optimized bidding and creative tech tools. 

Kivel explains that this type of platform helps to address the fragmentation of audiences and provides a holistic view for brands across media: "They can activate a brand-building video on the open web leveraging retailers' specific first-party audiences with a high relevancy for the targeted customer base. But then also activate onsite through sponsored products or other display products within the retailer."

This fragmentation issue in retail media is of growing concern to advertisers and is addressed in more detail by Megan Clarken, Criteo’s CEO, who argues that "fragmentation is not our friend moving forward, it’s all about unification."

Strong partner relationships 

But what about so-called 'non-endemic' brands? How can those we wouldn’t necessarily expect to access Deliveroo’s retail media offer get involved? Prouhet talks about Deliveroo’s relationship with ITV on two impactful campaigns that have created an occasion for the broadcaster based on mealtimes: "What’s been really interesting this year is working with agencies, media agencies and brands alike to really find what the niche is. To understand what the occasion is around food and build those connections based on what is a symbiotic relationship." 

Deliveroo has moved through the initial stages of launching its own media services, but what should retailers new to the game consider? Kivel says that recognizing their unique proposition and whether this will really appeal to advertisers and their agencies is a key factor. Then it comes down to understanding whether they have the necessary technical resources in place and deciding whether to partner with external experts on this. 

Kivel sees growth ahead from category specialists launching media operations: "We're starting to see beauty specialists really growing when it comes to retail media investment from brands." 

Success for these specialists will depend on identifying their unique offer to brands and accepting that not all retail media networks can be on the scale of, say, Walmart’s. In the case of Deliveroo, its strength lies in being a customer-centric business when it comes to advertising and, as Prouhet says "making sure that the experience is always with the consumer in mind and that what you’re doing is native and feels really relevant." 

New levels of standardization

After covering some significant ground in terms of the full-funnel potential for retail media, and best practice for both brands and retailers, the discussion concludes with some thoughts on measurement and standardization in the field. 

This follows significant steps forward in retail media's development with the introduction of a set of measurement guidelines by the IAB. There’s still work to do, however. Kivel says: "In the same way other media has standardizations, retail media is now going to have to deliver on that given the scale it's reaching. It goes back to the first point around the full-funnel metrics being added on top because that gives another layer to this puzzle that wasn’t previously there when it was all based on performance." 

Kivel was picking up here on a discussion at an earlier panel event. During that session, Prouhet emphasized the need for measurement standards that help advertisers to "ultimately understand multi-touchpoint attribution and how that feeds into larger mixed models."

Prouhet developed this point in the latest discussion with Kivel, speculating on the the likely impact of standardization and full-funnel activity on retail media creative. This, he argues, is an exciting area to watch in terms of building a stronger relationship with consumers: "A more emotional one, and maybe less transactional, and how that’s done through creative and through data. Hopefully, this time next year we’re a little bit further on that journey." 

There’s no ignoring the impact retail media has made to date. But the arrival of full-funnel marketing, emotional brand-building, and fresh advertisers and retailers to the environment is an exciting prospect.

Catch the full discussion with Deliveroo and Criteo in the video at the top of the page.

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