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The conversation around retail media is wide-ranging and fast-moving, with many predictions about how this dynamic channel will grow and change going into 2024.

So far, we’ve taken deep dives into the prospects for retail media’s full-funnel evolution and how retail media will respond to the challenge of fragmentation.

But our expert commentators foresee a number of other themes coming to the fore in the next year.

Here’s 10 more predictions for retail media in 2024:

  1. AI increases in importance – both generative and predictive
  2. AI changes the way shoppers find products
  3. More (sensible) investment in the in-store rollout
  4. Measurement: cracking the incrementality nut
  5. Non-endemic partnerships
  6. ‘Commerce’ media expands
  7. Retailers become media companies
  8. Land grab fuels a talent race
  9. Private label pressure forces CPGs to target
  10. More programmatic buying

Read our digital and marketing trends for 2024. Or find out more about our eLearning plan, Optimising the Retail Media Opportunity.

1. AI increases in importance – generative and predictive

With generative AI being one of the defining technologies of 2023 (you can read our predictions about generative AI in 2024 here), it comes as no surprise that many of our experts also foresee it becoming crucial to retail media.

Jaclyn Nix, EVP Sales & Operations at retail technology company CitrusAd, predicts that, “AI is going to be increasingly important – both generative and predictive.

“[CitrusAd parent company] Epsilon has been using predictive AI to get the right message in front of the right consumer at the right time for over 10 years. This is not going to stop and will become increasingly important to help drive the best outcomes for consumers, brands and retailers.”

As for generative AI, “This too will be important to help manage campaigns and manage creative within retail media.” Beyond creative, however, “we believe there will also be an opportunity to navigate audiences and insights more easily within complex clean rooms and data platforms.”

Ian Black, Head of Retail Media at Publicis Commerce, also predicts an “increasing prevalence of AI-based activation” in retail media.

“Over the past couple of years we’ve seen both Google and Meta make significant pivots towards AI powered campaign planning and execution in the form of Performance Max and Advantage+ respectively.

“I expect to see the emergence of this trend hit retail media in 2024, likely led by Amazon and other more mature networks. In doing so, retailers will likely begin automating the selection of audiences and placements to best achieve a desired output, e.g. short-term ROAS or new to brand growth. Key here for retailers will be deploying the correct balance of friction-reducing automation whilst not removing all controls for advertisers to tailor to their own specific requirements.”

2. AI changes the way shoppers find products

Eric Brackmann, VP of Commerce Media at Koddi, envisages generative AI becoming a game-changer for product discovery. “AI will change the way that shoppers find products,” he says. “Tools like NLP-powered chatbots, visual search, and better recommendations will mean that in the future shoppers will be directed toward a smaller set of highly relevant products.

“The future of search looks like finding the best product (maybe through an NLP-powered chatbot) instead of a list of products that match the criteria entered by a shopper. This will have a significant impact on how retail media is experienced by shoppers.

“Today’s heavy reliance on sponsored listings will evolve into offering a whole new set of sponsored options for brands and retailers. Imagine a world where you engage with an NLP-powered chatbot on a grocer’s app about your weekend dinner menu. The chatbot could help you plan the menu and pick recipes. When you were done, you could simply ask that all the items be added to your cart and delivered to your doorstep.

“The options for sponsored content in that shopper journeys are plentiful – not only could the entire experience be sponsored, but each recipe and each product in each recipe. The same thesis can applied to booking a trip, buying a car or even picking your next credit card.

“My most “out-there” prediction: we see the first versions of these experiences in 2024.”

Take a deep dive into retail media with Econsultancy’s new learning plan, ‘Optimising the Retail Media Opportunity’

3. More (sensible) investment in the in-store rollout

“The strategies that have worked online don’t always translate to the in-store experience,” says Brackmann. “Much like the industry had with online in the last few years, brands will need to figure out what does and doesn’t work in the store / hotel / airport / etc.

“Retailers will also need to figure out how to invest here without sinking too much working capital, especially if capital markets tighten in 2024.”

Publicis Commerce’s Ian Black predicts that the rise of in-store retail media will be “facilitated by an acceleration in the roll-out of digital screenage and the enabling of this inventory to be bought programmatically.

“Also crucial here,” he adds, “will be effective measurement solutions to allow advertisers to accurately quantify ROI from these investments.”

4. Measurement: cracking the incrementality nut

While retail media holds great promise for brands, measuring impact and proving ROI can be tricky – as we examined in a past Ask the Experts on measurement challenges in retail media. Retail media’s development into a full-funnel solution also comes with its own complications for measurement.

Brackmann notes that as the commerce media industry has grown, delivery on its promises of “better data, better shopping experiences, and incremental sales (to name a few)” has been “mixed”.

“The measurement of commerce media needs to be more consistent,” he concludes.  “Incrementality remains somewhat elusive. Recent efforts have made significant progress – like the IAB’s effort to provide measurement standards for retail media – but there is much more to do in this space.”

“As advertisers advance their retail media efforts the calls to move beyond return on ad spend (ROAS) and into more tangible measures of business impact will continue to grow louder,” adds Ian Black. “I expect to see retailers, agencies and technology vendors begin to truly crack the incrementality nut in 2024 through sophisticated bridging of media and retail outcomes.

“This will shift focus away from ROAS, which we know to be a proxy at best, towards measures of net new customers, media profitability and lifetime value. Connecting these metrics across what are often disparate retail media tech stacks will be key to retailers succeeding in this space.”

5. Non-endemic partnerships

This year could see retail media evolve beyond the ‘digital shelf’, in which the products advertised are stocked by the retailer in question, into a broader advertising solution for ‘non-endemic’ products, i.e. products sold elsewhere. CitrusAd’s Jaclyn Nix thinks that 2024 “[will] be the start, at least, of the push for non-endemic, especially with cookies being deprecated.

“Up to this point, retail media has been really focused on the endemic retailer. Non-endemic will take a focus, but it’s also an opportunity to optimize into the first-party data world for these non-endemics and to get access to these customers.”

Lori Johnshoy, head of global retail and CPG strategy at data collaboration platform LiveRamp, also expects to see “an increase in non-endemic partnerships in travel, services and other sectors as retailers look to grow advertising spend and attain new audiences and insights.”

She adds, “As slowed consumer spending drives a shift to value retailers, consumer buying patterns will impact media networks, and advertising spend will follow. Media networks will look to technology partners that can help them strengthen their value proposition to advertisers.”

6. ‘Commerce’ media

Nicole Kivel, MD Northern Europe at Criteo, predicts that 2024 will be the year of “retail media” giving way to “commerce media” – a term used to refer to the retail media model appearing in sectors beyond retail. “I expect 2024 to be the year in which adjacent retail industries, including food delivery, hotels and last-mile delivery apps, jump on the trend and develop their own retail media networks,” says Kivel.

“We refer to this as commerce media, as it’s not strictly what we consider traditional retail media, but it does offer a massive opportunity for companies to monetise both their digital and physical footprints.”

7. Retailers become media companies

Beyond this, Kivel foresees a more wholesale transformation of the retail media model. “We have seen an evolution over the past four years as new opportunities within retail media emerged,” she says. “When looking at historical business models, the retailer was always the client for brands, but now, and into 2024, the dynamics are different, with the retailer selling to the brand and sometimes the brand selling to the retailer.

“Brands will seek accountability from retailers about the effectiveness of their ad spend and how that’s translating into product sales. As a result, we’ll see more and more retailers transform into media companies and adopt business models that will differentiate their advertising offerings from competing retailers.”

8. Land grab fuels a talent race

“Because the commerce media space is exploding, brands and agencies will accelerate investment as part of a land grab in 2024,” says Brackmann. “This will require new talent, skills, technology, and partnerships to create new media businesses (not just networks – full businesses like Kroger’s 84.51 or Target’s Roundel).”

9. Private label pressure forces CPGs to target

Lori Johnshoy of LiveRamp expects that “New private label strategies will lead to drastic changes for CPGs” in 2024. She explains: “These brands will be hyperfocused on competing in the marketplace to retain consumers as inflation continues to drive higher prices in store.

”This added pressure on national brands will create a need to double-down on targeted advertising tactics in order to drive consumer loyalty through differentiation. As brands rely on media networks to increase their first-party data, media networks should strategize new acquisition strategies with brands that are concerned about losing shares to retailers’ private labels.”

10. More programmatic buying

Finally, Nich Weinheimer, EVP Strategy at omnichannel marketing platform Skai, foresees the retail media space ”evolving like an emergent system, not too dissimilarly to display media’s evolution from direct-sold to networks to the OpenRTB framework a decade ago.”

As a result of this, ”Friction and inefficiency will be naturally managed out … as both the supply and demand will find the most streamlined way to connect.

“To that end — and given Sponsored Products still represent an enormous share of retail media spending — I expect brands will be buying retail media more ‘programmatically’ in 2024 regardless of whether that is bought via a classic DSP for upper funnel (CTV, Display et al.)

“Less friction equates to more powerful channel possibilities, such as enabling near real-time market signals and first-party commerce data to be leveraged intra-daily as ads are bought and sold. Is my competitor out of stock this hour on Retailer A? Is there a price or promotional signal that should influence my bid this morning on Retailer B? Should I lower my bids to avoid poor ROI in the face of short-term competitive price pressure?

“Retailers will want to ensure that the nth degree of demand is available to them; they will want an ‘exchange’ like access to demand to fill their available inventory and will want to mediate, potentially, between many potential aggregators of said demand.”

  • For more insight, see our retail media page.
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