The five driving forces behind the rise of retail media

Thought Leadership
21 August 2022

The catalyst of the retail media evolution can be credited to five driving forces.

In a Nutshell - and an organic one at that, they’re pretty simple.  The pandemic changed customer behaviour which has accelerated the growth of digital and ecommerce. But this growth is on a collision course with the new privacy laws, which will soon come into play. That means to grow in the new digital era, marketers must find new ways to be relevant. They need a solution which can provide ROI and trust. 

Now, let’s look at those forces in detail, the evolution they demand, and how to meet that demand.


What we all know to be true is the customer has changed.  

They are in control like never before. In control of the media they consume, brands they engage with, and the products they buy (and when and how). This change hasn’t happened overnight but has been solidified through the past 12 months of the pandemic.

The game has changed, and the old playbook doesn’t apply. We are in a world of disruption and transformation.  

Other than making toilet paper a three-ply commodity, the pandemic accelerated the growth of digital and ecommerce. 

  • Over three-quarters of shoppers have changed the way they shop for groceries 
  • Over 30 percent of customers are now omnichannel shoppers, meaning they shop both online and instore 
  • 61 percent of online shoppers now research online and buy in-store within four days 

So what?

Well, New Customer Behaviour means there's a need for new ecommerce and digital offerings. 

Retail media networks are investing in their ecommerce and digital capabilities, servicing customers no matter where or how they shop. 

By combining the data on their online stores, with the intimacy of bricks and mortar shopping, they’ve been able to form a closer relationship with their customers. 

The closer those relationships become, the more we understand and adapt to their needs. 

So if more people are headed online, then what does privacy and the cookie apocalypse mean for marketers? 




Customers are tired of their data being used inappropriately. 

You know how it is, browse a pair of sports shoes on the way home from work and then they follow you around for what feels like a lifetime. 

Luckily for consumers, when it comes to IOS tracking permissions, the cookies are about to crumble. While Google has pushed the end date back, now is the time to start making the shift as a marketer.  

With government regulation coming into effect and third-party cookies set to disappear, first party data is going to be more valuable than ever. 

So what? 

With no visibility over their audience, marketers will have to move from precision targeting to context based targeting, which, let’s be honest, can only go so deep. 

So how do you get the precision of third party data without cookies? The answer is retail media 

When it was announced that third-party cookie tracking would be phased out, many marketers became concerned about the effectiveness of their ad spends and how they could accurately identify & reach their target audience. As they began to evaluate new channels for gathering robust customer data, many have started turning to retail media. 

For retail media networks like Cartology, preparing for life post privacy laws comes down to maintaining a fine balance between leveraging loyalty data and respecting our customers' privacy. 

When supermarket retailers use data, people are engaging with brands they have a long relationship with. These items are family favourites, they are not products. 

If the third force wasn’t already the holy grail for marketers, it is now.


Increasing budget pressure, and accountability means marketers must have a true understanding of the impact they can make across all platforms. There’s also increasing pressure to practice more efficient and effective marketing. 

So what? 

Well if you want guaranteed ROI, you need accountability, reliability, visibility and of course just-make-it-happen-ability. 

Like a live stream into your marketing funnel, closed-loop reporting provides marketers with end-to-end transparency and clarity. 

Unlike other media buys, which only tell you click-through rates and engagement, retail media networks can tell you results and figures from awareness right through to every single sale. 

They also offer zero-waste media targeting. 

When people enter a grocery supermarket, they are primed to purchase. 

So, for example, when someone sees their favourite brand of beer battered fries on a digital display, they don’t see an ad, they see advice. 

Unlike traditional advertising, retail media placements aren’t barriers.


The need for relevancy will never go out of date. 

As a matter of fact, customer expectation for relevant content, in the right context has grown. 

Curated news feeds, retailer recommended buys, Spotify playlists, Netflix suggestions - customers expect brands to know them inside and out. 

With re-targeting, consumers are seeing ads that reflect their interests and search history.

So what? 

Well, when relevancy becomes a vital currency, you need to be able to target customers in the moments that matter. You don’t want fragmented communications. Ads should add value, not get in the way. 

We just want to help them in ways that genuinely assist them while they are shopping. 

Customers know this. 

When they enter a supermarket, they give up more mental availability, giving brands the ability to win the moment, and be there when they really do want to hear from them. 

With omnichannel, retail media provides marketing and contextual advertising like no other. 

Advertising which creates and sustains as much impact as possible and is key to building brand salience. 

But what are these promises without trust you might ask?


When it comes to media, accountability and performance are paramount. 

So how do you know who to trust? 

Trust, much like reputation, has never been more valuable. It can’t be built overnight. It can’t be bought.

That trust also extends to the work that retail media networks do with brands and marketers. 

They offer on-platform media. As a 100 percent brand-safe environment, Retail Media Networks only count sales and customers who are in their rewards program. We don’t need to inflate our importance with metrics such as foot traffic. 

We’d much rather underclaim the impact and build trust, then over state our significance. 

In other words, you can bank on our numbers.