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Path to Purchase Institute: Trends 2023: Retailer Media Networks Ratings and Challenges

February 01, 2023

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From Google’s third-party cookie deprecation plans to the rise of e-commerce grocery adoption, there are a variety of reasons retail media has become a hot topic in recent years. In spite of continued growth, however, challenges related to data sharing and transparency persist.

“Lack of attributable data — they are getting better, but it’s still essentially a black hole of information,” said one survey respondent when asked what has been most challenging in working with retailer media networks (RMNs). “You spend money with a lack of understanding on the return you are receiving for that investment.”

“Data sharing and transparency” was cited as a challenge in working with RMNs by more than a quarter of respondents. Survey takers also shared issues with the investment level required and consistency in measurement across platforms.

“It’s expensive and we don’t have the budget to do all we would like,” noted a respondent. “Because it is fairly new for us, we are learning what is the most effective campaign as we go.” Another respondent agreed, sharing “investment levels are hard to meet given current budgets.”

The number of RMNs in the marketplace also makes it difficult for a company to manage, said one survey taker. “It is incredibly inefficient for our organization to manage these programs — especially when there are so many programs run across so many different retailers.”

When it came to rating specific RMNs (see below), some stood out above others with regard to different performance metrics. We asked respondents to rate the retailer media networks with which they work based on their relative strengths in targeting effectiveness, measurement capabilities, ROI, data sharing, sales growth, creative freedom and traffic-driving capabilities.

Not surprisingly, Walmart Connect, Target’s Roundel, Kroger’s Kroger Precision Marketing (KPM) and Amazon DSP were the networks our brand respondents worked with the most followed by Albertsons Media Collective and Instacart.

Among these networks — and among most other networks included in the survey — KPM and Amazon led the way across metrics. At least half of respondents gave KPM an “excellent/very good” (EVG) score — the highest marks — for traffic-driving capabilities and measurement capabilities, and nearly 60% gave the network an EVG rating for targeting effectiveness and data sharing. For Amazon DSP, 93% of survey takers gave the network at least a “good” rating for return on investment (ROI).

Among other results:

  • 70% or more of respondents gave Walmart Connect at least a “good” score across all metrics.
  • 80% of survey takers who worked with Instacart gave the platform at least a “good” score for sales growth.
  • 70% of respondents gave Roundel at least a “good” score for measurement capabilities.

When asked from what budget their retailer media spend is most often allocated, 56% of respondents noted shopper marketing, up from 50% in last year’s Trend survey and the year prior. Despite their challenges, 34% of respondents also noted RMNs are more effective than other digital media, a huge jump from 15% who said so last year and 14% the year prior. Skeptics remain, however, with 21% noting RMNs are a simple money grab for the retailer and 32% citing they are effective, but no more so than other digital media.

“It is a money grab, but I believe in the promise,” said a survey respondent. “I am just waiting for it to be reality.”

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