Closing the loop: A buyer’s guide to retail media ad types

Retail media has transitioned from its 1.0 era, defined by on-site search and sponsored product ads, into the era of retail media 2.0, which consists of a mosaic of ads on-site, in-store, and across other media channels. “The opportunity gets much bigger, but realizing the opportunity also gets a lot more complex,” our analyst Andrew Lipsman said on “Behind the Numbers: Reimagining Retail.”

Media buyers should consider all the following retail media ad types, as defined by the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB’s) Retail Media Buyer’s Guide.

1. On-site ads are served within a retailer’s platform, like on Amazon’s or Walmart’s websites.

  • Sponsored products: Listings within search for relevant products
  • Sponsored brands: Banner ads within search results
  • Display ads: Banner ads that follow customers across the website, like on the homepage

Shopper’s journey: A shopper searches for protein powder. They may see ads within search for a specific product and banner ads now and in the future for a given brand. These ads are close to the point of purchase.

2. Off-site display ads leverage retailer data but are served through partnerships.

  • Third-party sites mean the ad types are limited, but the IAB calls out web, app, display, audio, digital video, digital out-of-home (DOOH), and in-game.
  • Social media and connected TV (CTV) ads are also considered off-site display ads, and are supported by partnerships such as the ones between Dollar General and Meta or Albertsons Companies and Omnicom Media Group. CTV is one area where Amazon in particular has immense retail media potential through Prime Video and Freevee.
  • These ads are still considered retail media because brands leverage retail media networks’ partnerships and data to buy the ads, resulting in better targeting and measurement capabilities.

Shopper’s journey: It’s been a month since that shopper bought protein powder, according to Walmart’s data. Walmart has partnerships with Roku, TikTok, and Snap, which means a brand could buy ads through Walmart Connect to nudge that customer on CTV and social media.

3. In-store digital advertising refers to the new era of targeted ads in brick-and-mortar, which can target customers, increase sales, and leverage consumer data in real life.

  • Inside the store, these ads include product displays, signage, and video screens.
  • Location-based push notifications and retail apps can offer even more personalized ads to in-store consumers.
  • While smart shopping carts aren’t common yet, they also have vast personalization potential as adoption increases.
  • There’s also a physical retail media opportunity outside of the store, through DOOH ads in parking lots; at charging stations; and near buy online, pick up in-store parking spots.

Shopper’s journey: Energized by several protein-packed months, the buyer decides to venture into a Walmart. Even before entering, there is a retail media opportunity on screens in the parking lot’s electric vehicle charging station. In-store, the shopper may see brand signage or an aisle end-cap display for the protein powder. The brand may also nudge our shopper with targeted omnichannel ads within Walmart’s app.