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The Rise of Retail Media

Guest article | Liam Crause - Senior Marketing Manager Cartology

We are delighted to have Liam Crause from Cartology share his perspective of Retail media from the inside of one of the leading and most sophisticated networks in New Zealand.


Retail media has gained huge traction into the turf once held by large traditional broadcasters and publishers in the US - and while the retail players in New Zealand are fewer, the outcome may ultimately be the same.

This emerging retail landscape features a blend of physical and digital shopping and increasingly savvy consumers who traverse both worlds. In fact, 30% of shoppers are now omnichannel. And as a result, with new habits and raised expectations, the consumer relationship with brands is evolving.

It’s no surprise then, that this new normal also has major implications for marketers and advertisers, who must now address changing consumer preferences relating to retail advertising, personalised shopping experiences and loyalty.

The good news is that despite growing concerns about digital privacy, consumers are interested in brand relationships that incorporate advertising. For example, they are generally receptive to targeted ads — particularly from retail brands they like. As many as 71 percent of shoppers say they’d prefer to receive limited, tailored ad experiences instead of paying to avoid ads.

And those brand relationships are now firmly entrenched on retail eCommerce sites. Over half of Countdown shoppers surveyed (53 percent) have said they notice sponsored products or ads. Among those that recall seeing these sponsored products or ads, 42 percent claim to frequently or sometimes click to make a purchase. As brands pioneer new approaches to retail marketing, retailers themselves are making more of their valuable shopper data available so that brands can finally make the connection between advertising activity and consumer action, whether online or in-store. With the imminent demise of third-party cookies, we are seeing a surge in interest in leveraging this data in order to finally achieve that holy grail of marketing.


What started as a way for brands to engage shoppers during their in-store experience, has now grown to allow brands to find new ways to engage shoppers throughout their customer journey. Increasingly, marketers are looking to retail media networks like Cartology, to close the loop between broader campaign activity and consumer purchases.

In fact, retail data is viewed by marketers as effective in both building brands and driving conversions: 39 percent of marketers surveyed in the US said they use it to drive brand equity scores, while 44 percent said they now use retail data to track sales growth.

Why? Because retail data is rooted in valuable sales data — or the data associated with a purchase. This typically includes product information, SKU-data, the time of purchase, payment used, location, among other details. Access to past purchase data helps marketers best predict future purchase behavior or habits. These details enable marketers to understand what media tactics are leading to sales. That’s why 76 percent of marketers say they plan to use loyalty card point-of-sale data either frequently or very frequently over the next year.

As a result, sales data is crucial for brands, especially as the marketers noted their top challenges as measuring business outcomes (32 percent), understanding the increased complexity of the customer journey (32 percent) and optimizing cross-channel campaigns (32 percent). Retail data addresses many of these challenges. This data also opens new avenues for more accurate and actionable attribution tracking across digital and physical environments. While tracking the impact of search-based ads placed on retailers’ sites is fairly straightforward and immediate, marketers can use shopper data to connect digital ad exposures on the web to real-world, in-store purchases. This is great news for the 43 percent of brands surveyed who noted sales growth as a top KPI of marketing success.

What was once abstract is now possible — consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands can connect ad exposures to in-store purchases made by specific target audiences. Additionally, CPGs can work with retailers to advertise specific products to consumers by leveraging SKU-level insights and then measure the sales impact across a wide array of media channels. This levels the playing field for a sector of the industry that is looking to leverage its valuable data, such as insights from loyalty programs, in a privacy-conscious manner.

Retail Media needs to put the customer first

Value – or the perception thereof, has become an increasingly crucial matter for shoppers over the past two years. Changing behaviours in the wake of the pandemic and inflation, has shown a growing trend towards “value seeking” strategies. While retail media isn’t linked directly to price, it can still play a key role in helping customers get more value from their shop. As well as highlighting cost saving opportunities more generally, retail media can also be used to deliver personalised offers and discounts tailored specifically to the products that shoppers actually buy on a regular basis.

Convenience - Whether they’re online or in-store, grocery shoppers usually want to get what they came for as quickly and easily as they can. As a result, anything that retailers can do to make the shopping experience as convenient as possible is likely to go a long way towards meeting expectations.

Both online and off, retail media provides abundant opportunities to improve the flow of a visit. Smart use of in-store assets can be used to improve navigation and callout deals and

offers, ensuring that shoppers can manoeuvre around a store as quickly as they want. From a digital point of view, personalised recommendations, substitutes, and favourites can all help a customer get to the checkout faster.

Inspiration - Cooking at home was one of the major trends to emerge during the height of the pandemic, even in countries where eating out is usually a significant cultural norm. As a result, many customers were looking for extra inspiration in their shop, something intensified by the shift to online.

Here too, personalised recommendations have presented retailers and brands with a way to aid product discovery while simultaneously helping to provide a better service to customers. Complementary product suggestions, based on what similar shoppers have added to their baskets, offer another opportunity to inspire.

The importance of making retail media a customer-centric endeavour can’t be underestimated. While shoppers tend to be more willing to share their data with grocery retailers than others, that doesn’t make them any less conscious that their experience should improve as a result.

More than anything, a customer first approach to retail media ensures its sustainability over the long term. So long as shoppers continue to receive a genuine benefit from the communications they receive – whether in terms of time,

money, or anything else – they’re that much more likely to remain receptive to the messages they’re presented with. If that dynamic changes, retailers risk the entire operation coming undone.


Helping you to get the most out of retail media

Together with clients and partners, Cartology are helping to build a greater understanding of retail media while learning and evolving every day. They can work hand in hand with brands to achieve customer growth outcomes offering advanced targeting, measuring real customer impact and accountability of media spend, providing a trusted, brand safe environment, and an omnichannel ecosystem that reaches customers where and when they plan, compare and transact on the customer journey.

It is an exciting journey in retail media and one that we are equally excited to share with you. For more information on what retail media is, the benefits it can provide brands, and how Cartology is helping to deliver, get in touch at

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