First NRF Retail Media Networks Conference Draws NYC Weekend Crowd Of 400+

January 15, 2024 by Dave Haynes

There has been a hell of a lot of hype and discussion around retail media networks, but also quite a bit of skepticism about how much of that interest and activity applies to in-store screens, versus retail media on mobile, social and web.

An event this weekend in New York, a day ahead of the opening of the big NRF retail show, suggests the interest is real – with some 400 people turning up Saturday for the first NRF Retail Media Conference. The day-long event was organized by the National Retail Federation and title sponsor Stratacache, the digital signage CMS and solutions company.

I had a conflict and couldn’t attend, but German language content partner Florian Rotberg of Invidis was there, and I am guessing he was moderating one of the on-stage sessions … probably the one on non-US perspectives. As he notes below, Europe is arguably three to five years ahead of North America when it comes to retail media.

One of the things I steadily try to reinforce with people in Canada and the US is that while we like to think we’re technologically sophisticated as hell, they need to get out of the bubble and see the rest of the planet. Things being piloted here are in place and common elsewhere, particularly Europe and parts of Asia.

Florian’s reporting and impressions:

When over 400 retail media network experts, media managers from retail companies and agencies come together for a conference at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning at the start of a holiday weekend, there must be an important occasion: the first all-day Retail Media Network conference, organized by American retail association NRF and Stratacache.

Retail Media is one of the beacons of hope for retail companies that need to realign their business models after the pandemic. Amazon and Walmart are pointing the way: Amazon achieved $38 billion in sales with retail media in 2022, the lion’s share of which was online. Walmart already markets 170,000 in-store screens and is increasing retail media sales by 40 percent.

More relevant for Europe is Carrefour, which achieves 8 billion transactions annually with 80 million customers. There is great potential for Carrefour’s over 300 brand partners to influence customer decisions via retail media. Almost all large retail companies have in-house retail media units – the majority were only founded in the last 2 to 3 years.

McKinsey estimates that the global retail media market will grow to more than $100 billion by 2024. The potential is huge and explains why top experts from McKinsey, Accenture, Solomon met with retail experts from Walmart, Albertsons & Co. the day before the NRF.

Retail Media – lots of hope for in-store

Retail media is fundamentally nothing new; retailers have been monetizing the POS with advertising subsidies, listing fees and many other programs for decades. But with e-commerce, the availability of data and new in-store technologies, retail media is experiencing a boom. Fueled by Amazon, which has made retail media an integral part of its business model.

Exact figures are not available, but well over 90 percent of retail media sales have so far been generated online. But in-store retail media has been growing extremely quickly since the pandemic – especially due to the high frequency of shoppers in food retail.

Europe is leading the way when it comes to in-store retail media and is 3 to 5 years ahead of North America in terms of development. This is hardly surprising for anyone who compares the shopping experience in a typical American supermarket with European stores. The DooH industry, which discovered its potential during the pandemic at the latest, is also a big driver in Europe.

Not all retail screens are retail media

Even though all screens around and in stores are currently being advertised as retail media, the networks are generally divided into two categories according to budget sources:

Reach media

Transactional/shopper marketing

While the marketing of reach media follows the DooH rules – in particular a programmatic connection – Shopper Marketing aims at direct activation at the POS. Here too, data is essential – but this is first-party data from the retailer, such as sales data, to measure the impact of the measures.

Whether reach or transaction – a robust digital signage infrastructure is necessary for both retail media network types. Lots of potential for hardware and software providers as well as integrators.

Where does in-store retail media stand at the start of 2024?

As has long been the case in the DooH market, shopper marketing lacks standards and transparent metrics for retailers, brands and consumers. However, the number of omnichannel retail media networks is growing rapidly, and with it the inventory to be marketed – Deloitte currently counts 120 relevant retail media networks worldwide.

More and more non-retailers such as hotel chains, fitness clubs, etc. are also following the retail media trend in order to market one-to-one offline customer contacts in addition to audience (DooH). The so-called “Commerce Media” networks now complement “Retail Media”.

NRF formally started Sunday and continues today and tomorrow in New York.

Leave a comment