Retail Media Report Card U.S. 1Q 2024

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The retail media marketplace continues to GROW: Insider Intelligence expects global ad spending to grow 22% this year and 18.5% in 2025 to reach $165.9 billion — and command 22% of all digital ad outlays worldwide. U.S. spending will hit $72.1 billion in the same period, rising by more than 20% each year.

More importantly, the marketplace continues to IMPROVE, as competition among an increasing number of networks and, more notably, feedback from brand advertisers is driving the enhancements needed to deliver better opportunities and stronger results.

Growth in U.S. ad spending is being driven by new advertisers and increased spending among existing advertisers; globally, it’s sparked by more networks launching in more regions — which is why The Mars Agency now produces Retail Media Report Cards in Europe, Australia, and (coming in April) Canada.

To help our clients efficiently evaluate spending opportunities across networks, The Mars Agency created a Retail Media Health Scorecard to track the capabilities of leading networks across the key criteria that advertisers need to optimally plan, execute, and measure retail media activation.

To help the industry at large gain a better understanding of the opportunities available, and to encourage the development of evaluation standards that might ultimately improve both the collaborative process and overall network effectiveness, The Mars Agency is publicly sharing this Retail Media Report Card, which presents the foundational, scorecarding elements of our evaluation process.

New Features This Quarter

Each quarterly report is updated to reflect the ongoing enhancements made by these platforms, to evaluate additional platforms, and to modify our analysis as needed to continue reflecting best practices across the industry.

We’ve made more changes than usual this quarter, adding and adjusting capabilities across four of our five Key Performance Areas. In most cases, these changes reflect the industry’s progress around the key issues — measurement granularity, self-serve campaign management, in-store media alignment, stronger collaboration — for which The Mars Agency has been advocating through this report:

Measurement & Reporting: The call for more granular measurement is being met in many places, leading us to add reporting at the targeted audience and creative versioning levels to the list of capabilities. And the need for a better understanding of retail media’s total business impact has made “rest of market” sales impact a key capability as well. Visibility into shopper baskets is new here, too.

Media Opportunities: The aggressive push to expand ad inventory to the brick-and-mortar store inspired us to break out these opportunities in a separate chart while adding a few more. We’ve also separated out managed service from self-serve campaign management as the latter has become fairly common across networks.

Innovation: The market’s overall maturation has led to many capabilities once considered innovative to become mainstream and move to other Performance Areas. These shifts have made the Innovation bucket a little light this time around, although we boosted the list with the addition of EV charging stations as an emerging media opportunity and AI content generation as a creative-enhancing tool.

Partnership: As more retailers leverage their shopper loyalty programs for insights and engagement opportunities, we’ve moved this capability from Innovation to Partnership, where we’ve also added three new criteria: agency partnerships, roadmap visibility/collaboration, and rate card transparency.

We also initiate coverage of Uber Advertising, the latest representative from the important on-demand delivery market. And the “Capability Spotlight” examines generative AI-enabled search, a potential strategy-changing tool that has earned headlines recently.

We hope you enjoy the 6th edition of The Mars Agency’s Retail Media Report Card.

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