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Retail media tech takes center stage at CES

3 things you need to know from CES

  1. AI dominated CES, with Walmart leveraging AI to optimize ad targeting and automate ad buying.

  2. Meaningful partnerships that connect brands with the right audiences will be increasingly prevalent.

  3. New and emerging ad formats will create a wealth of advertising opportunities.

While it doesn't tell the entire story, the advancements in technology that pare previewed at CES help show how RMNs will work to meet brands' expectations and improve the shopper experience.
Olivia Franssen is a Senior Client Manager at Threefold.

We’re just in the second week of 2024, and it’s already been a jam-packed year for retail media. Retail Media Networks and the technology that enables best-in-class marketing campaigns played a key role at this year’s CES, held from Jan. 9-12 in Las Vegas. From advancements in AI to data clean rooms and connected TV, it’s clear that we’re starting the year off looking straight toward the future.

It’s going to be a busy year for RMNs as more networks launch and brands look to spend with the networks that offer them the most value. While it doesn’t tell the entire story, the advancements in technology that are previewed at CES help show how RMNs will work to meet brands’ expectations and improve the shopper experience.

Albertsons Media Collective and Criteo partner to enhance retail media offering

Albertsons Media Collective intends to use Criteo’s technology platform to improve its offering to CPG brand advertisers that buy across its ad footprint, including on-site sponsored ad offerings.

  • Criteo’s Commerce Max self-service demand-side platform (DSP) will be used to integrate Albertsons’ data, including in-store sales and shopper signals.

  • Criteo’s Commerce Yield will enable Albertsons to monetize its online assets.

The combination will enable partners to access on-site inventory and manage media buying through Criteo’s platform.

Instacart extends ad offering with Google

Advertisers can now use Instacart’s data to not only target a customer who bought their product once or twice via Instacart but to also track whether the shopper clicked on the Google ad and made a purchase, theoretically offering perfect closed-loop attribution.

Walmart taps into AI to enhance shopping experiences

Walmart unveiled plans to dive further into the world of AI to improve shoppers' experiences.

During a keynote address, the retailer announced:

  • A generative AI-powered search tool for iOS users that suggests relevant products for consumer queries. Walmart teamed up with Microsoft to build what it bills as an AI-powered shopping experience. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said AI will be integrated across its digital platforms and will be used to study shopper behavior and suggest future purchases.

  • It also detailed InHome Replenishment, which aims to use AI to learn consumers' shopping habits and keep them automatically stocked on their essentials.

  • Walmart-owned Sam's Club announced it would end its longtime practice of stopping customers to check receipts upon exit. Instead, cameras and AI will work to confirm that shoppers have paid for items in their cart. The tech is available in 10 clubs so far and is being rolled out later this year.

Omnicom highlights influencers as a new media channel

Omnicom Media Group is treating social media influencers and creators as a legitimate media channel and plans to measure them, benchmark their presence on platforms and build them into its systems through a variety of partnerships.

The aim is to track and measure the growing impact that influencers have at all points of the customer journey and gain insight into how, when, where and with whom creators are influencing consumer’s actions across a variety of platforms.

Disney switches things up

Advertisers can now buy inventory across both Hulu and Disney+ in a single campaign.

Disney’s Magic Words, the company’s first-to-market contextual advertising format using advanced data. This tech allows Disney to analyze scenes and visuals across its expansive library to capture a mood or moment and enable advertisers to personalize their messaging around that emotion.

Disney has expanded its roster of cloud services powering clean room interoperability to include Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud. Separately, Disney and Habu introduced a dedicated portal that simplifies the way clients stand up a clean room.

Disney+ and ESPN+ inventory will be made available domestically through Disney Campaign Manager in 2024. The self-service platform will be expanded globally to create another layer of automation.

Retail Media Experts weigh in on hot topics

Retail Media and walled gardens

  • Brian Lesser, Chairman and CEO of Infosum, predicted a rise in the number of walled gardens, as retail media creates new, smaller ad ecosystems. He said: “I actually think there will be more walled gardens in the future. Retail media is going to be the biggest opportunity in digital advertising. I think it will be bigger than CTV.”

  • Karen Nelson-Field, Founder and CEO of Amplified Intelligence, noted the importance of that shift: “Brand building as we know it is headed for transformation, and this year’s CES spotlighted the early signs of that change,” she said. “Today’s Retail Media Networks are creating a new breed of walled gardens that will become tomorrow’s e-commerce giants, with fewer aggregators taking the lion’s share of consumer ad spend.”

  • Michael Nevins, Chief Marketing Officer, of Equativ said: “A major part of CES is leveling up ongoing innovations, so it makes sense that many discussions were about maximizing the growth of Retail Media Networks. Realizing that super scale isn’t everything, mid-size players are increasingly looking to turn brand sellers into advertising partners.”

The rise of data clean rooms

  • Doug Milliken, VP of marketing transformation at Clorox, said “Our value all comes from increasing the relevance of our brands, and the fuel for that is data and insights. So anything that changes the environment of data and insights is really important to us.”

  • Infosum’s Lesser recommended taking a cautious approach. “We need interoperability,” he said. “Everybody is going to announce they have a data clean room, but — buyers beware — they are not all the same thing.”

  • Pinterest partnered with LiveRamp to implement data clean rooms, which will first be used by Albertsons Media Collective. Kristi Argyilan, Senior Vice President of retail media at Albertsons Media Collective said: “While our initial test pilot focuses on enabling closed-loop measurement, this partnership will ultimately provide our team a more holistic view of our customers’ digital footprint to unlock more advanced measurement capabilities, like incrementality and multi-touch attribution.”

About Threefold

Founded in 2008, Threefold is the world's leading Retail Media Network (RMN) specialist, headquartered in both London and New York. As part of the SMG agency network, which employs over 250 retail media experts, Threefold's primary mission is to unlock incremental CPG budgets, curate media campaigns that supercharge sales and elevate its retail partners into top-tier omnichannel media owners, spanning in-store, offsite and online.

Threefold's services include consultancy, evaluation, and a white-label in-house solution that has seen the agency build, run and operate over 10 Retail Media Networks to date. In the UK, Threefold runs and operates Walgreens' Boots Media Group and Morrisons Media Group, and additional live partners include major retailers like The Co-op, Signet Group and The Very Group.

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