Mastering Retail Media Advertising: The Art of Focusing on Media, Not Retail 

Skai's Kate DuBois had some tips and advice for marketers on how to take advantage of the fastest-growing channel in advertising. By Julia Linehan, founder and CEO of The Digital Voice™

‘Marketers have put too much emphasis on the retail in retail media,’ according to Kate DuBois, EVP of omnichannel growth at Skai. ‘Practitioners must refocus on the media part of the equation, not get distracted by the retail aspect.’

DuBois was speaking at the The Retail Media Accelerator event, which was hosted by Contagious in partnership with Nectar360, Skai, Accenture Song, CitrusAd, and The Digital Voice during Cannes.

DuBois began her incisive and to-the-point talk by reminding the audience that retail media is the fastest-growing channel in advertising, with 87% of marketers reporting in a recent Skai survey that their organisations plan to maintain or increase spending on it in the coming year. Additionally, 93% believed it will remain a priority for the next two years.

DuBois then guided the audience through the often complicated world of retail media. She warned about the distraction of retail operations and fulfilment, saying ‘retail is all about logistics.’

‘It's about getting the right product to the right place at the right time,’ she continued. ‘But the media part is about getting the right message to the right person at the right time. And that is where the true value for marketers lies.’

DuBois then highlighted the transformative potential of media. ‘Advertisers crave two basic things: simplicity and scale,’ she said. ‘The key to achieving this lies in removing complexities, consolidating all retail media channels into one platform, simplifying campaign entities, and fostering collaborative teamwork.’

Skai, added Dubois, supports its retail media clients to accelerate performance through:

  1. Advanced media optimization to continuously maximise investments and ROI
  2. Accelerating insights as a way to drive better data-driven decision making
  3. Holistic omnichannel experiences ensure all digital channels work together towards a common goal.

‘Data is power,’ added Dubois, underlining the need to understand performance data and the customer journey. She also spoke about the rising importance of clean rooms in analysing the customer conversion path and the influence of offsite ads on both physical and digital sales.

One of the most important data gaps for brands is in retail analytics – emphasising that while we should not get into the logistics side of inventory and delivery health, tying this retail data back to a brand’s media is, of course, critical to advertising success. The challenge is that most retailers don't make market signals and competitive insights available, so marketers must work with third-party vendors like Profitero or Analytic Index to understand their share of voice on the digital shelf. Skai integrates with these partners to provide a seamless connection between media optimisation and insights.

Finally, DuBois emphasised the importance of adopting a holistic, omnichannel approach. ‘We need to appreciate the increasing fluidity between distribution channels and advertising,’ she said. ‘Thinking of retail media in its own vacuum is a mistake. Consumers don't, and neither should we.’

Brands are already realigning their digital channels to assist retail media. According to Skai’s State of Retail Media survey, 76% of respondents said they used paid social and/or paid search to drive traffic to (and sales through) retailer partners. Additionally, 79% said that ‘social commerce’ is part of their retail media program—and 73% believe ‘search shopping’ ads (eg, Google Shopping Ads) are, too.

DuBois acknowledged that data deprecation and transparency issues could make it difficult for marketers to understand incremental impact and attribution across these channels. However, she maintained that focusing on media, backed by innovative AI solutions like Skai, can help unlock the true potential of retail media.

‘By focusing on the media aspect,’ DuBois concluded, ‘we can better navigate the hurdles, unlock new opportunities, and truly maximise the value of retail media.’

Skai's cutting-edge AI solutions support DuBois's insights. Skai, recently named the Best AI-based Solution for Advertising in the 6th Annual Artificial Intelligence Breakthrough Awards, provides marketers with the tools they need to navigate the complex retail media landscape. From accelerating insights to delivering a holistic omnichannel experience, Skai’s AI solutions embody the spirit of DuBois's advice.

But finding success with retail media also means knowing where to focus your time and resources. And as DuBois ably pointed out, while retail media is the darling of the advertising world, it's the media aspect that provides marketers with the best opportunity to drive meaningful value to their companies by focusing on media optimisation, leveraging data insights, and adopting a holistic omnichannel approach.

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