The five questions you should ask your media agency about retail media

Simon Porter
By Simon Porter | 17 April 2023
Simon Porter

Retail media is the new frontier for brands to reach customers and influence their decisions right up to the point of sale. How can your media agency help you navigate this terrain? Simon Porter is the Head of Retail at Hatched Sydney.

Although retail media is considered an emerging industry, it has been thriving in a different guise for decades. People working in trade and shopper marketing would almost certainly take issue with it being described as nascent.

Technology, the demise of cookies and the value of retailer first-party data have seen the industry explode in recent months. But what has really made the difference is the eye-watering returns Amazon has demonstrated in its retail media business. There is nothing so alluring as a new revenue stream with a high margin that monetises existing assets.

If you’re a marketer, you’re probably wondering how you can get in on the act. How can you add retail media to your media mix and what do you need to do to get the most out of it?

And if you’re in the retail space, you’re no doubt wondering that plus how you can monetise your own media assets.

A great place to start is to talk to your media agency. And here’s what you should ask them. 

What is retail media?

It is an obvious place to start but will reveal a lot about your media agency’s knowledge and expertise.

Retail media includes everything from in-store point of sale to digital channels such as websites and social media so asking your agency what they see it as will be revealing.

Ultimately, you’re probing for their capability.

Most will have transferable skills in digital but experience with in-store is essential.

If your agency doesn’t understand the difference between brand and trade dollars that’s a big red flag.

How do you navigate retail media networks?

In Australia, there are a handful of retail media networks but in the next 12-18 months, there will be closer to 50. Understanding which ones are worth investing in and for what reasons is set to become a major challenge.

Not all retail media networks are created equal so your media agency will need to have a set of filters to judge effectiveness and recommend the appropriate network based on your campaign objectives.

You want to ensure your media agency is thinking customer first. But they should also have a sense of the customer, media and retailer. Customer insight and retail media knowledge aren’t enough. You also need that retailer insight. It’s about matching the agendas of your brand with the customer, retail media and retailer. That is the sweet spot for success.

What is your knowledge and experience across retail media technology platforms?

The technology that powers retail media is expanding by the day with new players getting into the space. The current main options are Criteo, Citrus and Zitcha so start by asking your agency how much they know about them.

Each of the tech platforms has different strengths and your agency needs to be across them so they can deliver on the new holy trinity of retail media: on-site, off-site and in-store.

Many traditional media agencies get off- and on-site (to a degree) but are flummoxed by in-store and don’t have the language or planning processes required to win. Ideally, you want an agency that understands all three.

How will you measure retail media?

Ask your agency what metrics they track and the tools they use to track them.

For brands, retail media gives accountability and better targeting, but you must remember that each touchpoint plays a different role in the journey and both messaging and placement need contextual relevance.

Think of touchpoints as a series of nudges. These ‘nudges’ will get the customer closer to the sale rather than a single touchpoint sealing the deal.

Your agency needs to be prepared to measure and track all of these touchpoints to get a true reading of how your investment is performing.

What’s your point of view on creativity in retail media?

What is your agency’s view on innovation in retail media and how do they plan to ensure effective creative messaging in your campaigns?

As the retail media space matures and more brands cotton on to the opportunity, innovation and creativity in placement and media will be required to cut through.

Right now, many retailers enforce clean store policies where the retailer tightly controls the message and the type of display or merchandising that goes in-store. This can constrain creativity. But over time, clean store policies will erode as retailers see increased revenue opportunities from more engaging in-store placements and experiences. This will give brands greater scope to create impact in-store as well as immersive story-telling experiences that benefit both brand and retailer.

But to deliver on this, your media agency will need creative chops or at least an understanding of the power of creativity and how to harness it.

Currently, we’re at the forefront of a game-changing media opportunity for both retailers and brands. To get the most out of this, you need an agency partner that can combine traditional media smarts with specialist skillsets. Find an agency that can do that, and they will be integral to your retail media journey.


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