5 Retail Media Networks to Watch in 2022

Demand for first-party data, coupled with the looming disappearance of third-party cookies, has created a moment of opportunity for innovative multi-location brands and retailers. Retail media networks offer a way for brands across the spectrum of verticals to monetize the reams of personally identifiable information they’ve collected from their own digital properties, like apps and websites, and expand their global footprints.

What began as a simple plan to modernize existing points programs has ballooned into one of the fastest-growing segments in media, as brands in every vertical rush to build media networks that combine aspects of ad sales, technology, and commerce. Spending on retail media is expected to double this year to $40 billion, according to research from Winterberry Group, and 80% of advertisers across verticals plan to increase retail media network spend in the next 12 months. 

As the value proposition becomes clearer, more multi-location retailers are following in the footsteps of giants like Walmart and Kroger by launching their own retail media networks. These are five retail media networks to watch in 2022.

1. Walmart Connect

Walmart has seen huge gains in its advertising business thanks to Walmart Connect, a media network designed for global brands that want to get in front of Walmart customers when they’re searching for products on Walmart.com. The closed-loop system offers a holistic view of Walmart customer behavior, with the ability to correlate online and in-store activity for advertisers at scale. Walmart partnered with The Trade Desk on a DSP that allows advertisers to drive more effectiveness from media spend. Although Walmart Connect accounts for a tiny percentage of Walmart’s current revenues, incremental growth in the number of advertisers, and the addition of new ad formats in 2022, have industry observers optimistic about what’s to come.

2. Kroger Precision Marketing

Kroger Precision Marketing provides brands with a way to advertise to customers on Kroger’s online properties, including Kroger.com and email. Nearly 2,000 brands currently use KPM product listing ads to reach in-market shoppers on Kroger’s e-commerce website. The company’s suite of products includes a private marketplace, where brands can reach Kroger shoppers using their own DSP and optimize performance against sales. In March, the company announced plans to open up access to its onsite advertising inventory by engaging with Pacvue, Skai and Flywheel Digital, three ad management platforms, along with other enhancements to its retail media offerings. 

3. UB Media

When Ulta launched its retail media network in May, it became the first multi-location retailer in its vertical to do so. UB Media is a closed-loop system that offers brands addressable advertising opportunities. At launch, the network offered advertisers access to onsite sponsored, onsite display, video, social, offsite display, and influencer advertising. Ulta has said it plans to roll out additional ad formats in the future. The offering reinforces Ulta’s ability to engage customers across digital platforms and elevates the company’s position as a desirable retail partner for top cosmetics brands.

4. Marriott Media Network

Launched in March 2022, the Marriott Media Network is an omni-channel cross-platform advertising solution for brands. The network brings a full tech-stack collaboration with Yahoo, leveraging its sell-side and demand-side platforms as the access point to the Marriott Media Network supply. It features premium inventory spanning Marriott’s owned channels, including display, mobile, video, email, and DOOH (in-room television and digital screens). With more than 30 brands in the Marriott portfolio, and access to travelers throughout the path to purchase, pre-arrival, and during their hotel stays, Marriott’s network has instantly become one of the most influential media networks in the hospitality industry.

5. Roundel

Roundel is Target’s media network. Since launching as Target Media Network in 2016 and rebranding as Roundel three years later, the network has amassed a huge array of partnerships with brand-safe external channels like PopSugar, NBC Universal, and Pinterest to become one of the biggest players in the space. Roundel uses Target’s insights to create personalized campaigns that connect Target shoppers with brands like Disney, Dyson, and Unilever. Roundel’s approach emphasizes total customization for brands, using Target’s customer insights to pinpoint the best channels for brand campaigns and providing advertisers with detailed reporting insights that measure each campaign’s success.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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