How to Pick the "Right" Retail Media: A Perspective from Skai Street Fight

How to Pick the “Right” Retail Media: A Perspective from Skai

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Nich Weinheimer is the EVP of Strategy at Skai, an omnichannel advertising platform focused on walled garden media. These networks (walled garden media) are their own ecosystem and keep their customer data close.

As reported recently, major MULO (multi-location) retailers are taking a page from the Google and Amazon playbook and developing their own advertising ecosystems. United Airlines recently joined the list.

Whereas end cap displays, direct mail, and demos used to be the rage in retail marketing, retail ad networks are taking the industry by storm. Technology enables MULO brands to target specific products and deals to shoppers online from their homes to the parking lot to the store aisles and after returning from their buying expeditions.

Skai reports that in May 2024:

  • 49% of retail media advertisers spent more than in April
  • 41% of companies who advertise on paid search via Skai spent more in May than April
  • 51% of social accounts spent more in May than in April, but the average cost per thousand impressions also went up by 54%

So, with this new “garden” of opportunities and increased spend, how should product brands and the agencies that serve them choose the best options? We turned to Weinheimer for some insights.

Goal-Driven Decision-Making

“Media buyers must first consider how well a given retail media network (RMN) aligns with their specific business goals and their sell-through (either existing or anticipated) via that particular channel. This will typically create a natural stack ranking of the value of RMNs for the buyer, after which they can consider whether there is audience alignment, the targeting options that the network offers, the ad formats available, the size of the network, and performance metrics that the retail media network can provide.”

Audience Alignment

“Not every retail media network will fit with the audience your brand is looking to reach, and in other cases, there are networks that are so wide that they may not have the targeting that fits with a brand’s strategy. Understanding how the audience of the retail media network aligns with your target buyer group is critical to impactful ROI. However, don’t have tunnel vision and only consider where your products or services are available for direct purchase. For example, service providers should think outside the box and be creative with their ad spend, as some networks may align for targeting even if products/services aren’t sold there.”

Targeting Options

“Because of the variety of formats out there – and the level of consumer data that many retail media networks provide – brands can effectively target shoppers by demographic, shopping history, geography, and many other factors, depending on the network. Understanding what is possible from each network you’re considering is crucial before deciding where to invest ad dollars.”

Ad Formats 

“Advertisers can invest in many retail media formats, depending on the network. They should understand and test them across networks. Looking back at what’s historically been successful in your ad strategy is a good starting point. Trying a new tactic on a new network might not give that network a fair shot if it’s not best for your campaign or brand. Some of the most common ad types include:

On-Site Ads:

  • Sponsored product ads will appear alongside organic search results and product pages, often including product images, pricing, and customer ratings.
  • Display ads, which include banner ads, sidebar ads, and other visual formats, are also commonly seen. They can be targeted based on users’ demographics, interests, and behaviors and provide value in building awareness and driving traffic to product pages.
  • Search advertising allows brands to bid on keywords or phrases, putting products at the top of relevant search results pages. This captures high-intent traffic from active users looking to purchase in-the-moment.

Off-Site Retail Media Ads:

These still leverage retailer data but instead appear in places not owned by the retailer or on the retailer’s main site. Rather, they can include advertising on apps, games, and other places.


Connected TV ads are growing, especially given Amazon’s recent announcement that it’s showing ads via Prime Video. These are served via owned formats (like with Prime Video) or through partnerships retailers have with streaming services.”

Size of the Network

“Bigger isn’t always better, as long as the audience overlaps with yours. However, you should never try a new network blindly – understand the audience size, alongside the other factors I mentioned, to see if it’s a good network to test in your commerce media strategy.”

Performance Metrics and Whether the Network Can Measure Incrementality

“A recent study from Skai showed that only 30% of marketers feel proficient in incrementality measurement, and with varying definitions of incrementally, take a standardized approach doesn’t work. The most frequently used metrics are advertising and media performance, so be sure to understand what’s important to your business (for example, your advertising’s impact on customer lifetime value), how that network measures impact so you know what you’re buying, and what you can expect from an investment.”

Thank you Skai, for giving our readers insights into the six key factors advertisers should consider in this bold new world of retail ad media. Although some of these factors apply to all types of advertising, retail media offers some unique options that we now need to factor into the mix.

For more about the ever-changing options within retail network advertising, join us at Street Fight LIVE on November 7th, where we’ll have a panel exclusively on this topic!

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.