Vistar Media

Vistar is the world's leading end-to-end programmatic ecosystem for digital out-of-home.

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How brick-and-mortar stores can deliver what brands need

by Leslie Lee

July 19, 2022

“Retail media platforms” are among the hottest topics in media these days, dominating headlines, conference sessions and every advertiser’s inbox. With commerce giants such as Walmart, Target and Loblaws all investing heavily in building their own retail media networks, it's no wonder the space has everyone’s attention.

But there is a sector that should probably pay even closer attention and learn from this e-commerce trend: smaller brick-and-mortar retailers.

Seeking the Amazon alternative

Brand advertisers are shifting budgets into online retail media in order to influence purchasers at the digital point of sale. The obvious frontrunner is Amazon - an example of both the opportunities and pitfalls for CPG brands. Amazon’s massive first-party data allows brands to target audiences based on purchases and intent signals, extending their digital shelf presence to drive product sales and capture more share of consumers’ wallets. But Amazon doesn’t just operate a marketplace for product search and purchase. The company now also manufactures products themselves. AmazonBasics now covers everything from batteries to activewear, threatening brands from Duracell to Lululemon, and everything in between.

Many brands are uncomfortable investing media dollars so heavily in a company that has this competitive edge. In an increasingly centralized e-commerce world, advertisers also risk losing negotiating power. The retail industry has an opportunity to step up and provide media alternatives that position brands near the point of sale, while diversifying the retail media landscape into the physical world.

Extend beyond the shelf

The online environment is oversaturated with brand messages, and customers can easily scroll by ads at the top of a page of product search results. But placing retail media on screens or shelves in-store offers advertisers the chance to reach customers at the point of purchase without creating a feeling of intrusion or oversaturation.

Traditional in-store media offerings focus on extending a brand’s shelf presence or promoting core brand messages but can’t compete with the targeting and optimization available online. Aisle stickers, shelf pop-outs, window displays and cardboard stands can’t support the fast-paced and data-informed strategies that many advertisers rely on today.

On the other hand, retailers that invest in their physical locations can transform the shopping experience through digital signage. From high-impact screens to sleek, small-size digital signage on shelfs and standalone displays, in-store media can transform and modernize a brick-and-mortar location. Combining this with data - contextual, mobile, transactions, etc. - creates a compelling media offering that’s hard to beat.

Can retailers give brands what they want?

There are challenges to realizing this, however, and one major hurdle is coordinating across the various teams or stakeholders that need to create a plan for in-store digital signage. Customer experience, technology/IT, operations, and media teams all separately handle aspects of the in-store environment and what retailers can offer to advertisers.

For retailers that can successfully bring these teams together, there is a massive opportunity to transform and redefine the in-store shopping experience in a way that delivers value to consumers - delivering product information (such as reviews and nutritional information) or store-specific messaging on deals - and creates new media products for advertisers.

In e-commerce, advertising represents a significant portion of the top retailers’ revenue (for example, Instacart reports receiving around 20% of its total revenue from advertising). This opportunity doesn’t have to be limited to the online world. Smartly done, advertising can be a huge revenue driver that offsets the cost of maintenance and investment in the physical environments, while securing investment away from e-commerce competitors.

Brick-and-mortar retailers have the core requirements - valuable audiences, contextual relevance, and physical space to deliver impactful brand messages - but until they invest to create the high-tech, data-enabled in-store experiences that brands desire, they will continue to miss out on potential revenue. The retail media era is here - will brick-and-mortars be ready to take part?


Retail media
programmatic digital out of home
Out Of Home
Digital Signage
marketing strategy
Advertising & Media