February 20, 2023


Brands think retail media is simply a math problem.


Something that can be solved and optimized with the right metric or software or agency.


After all, it’s performance marketing. It’s measurable. It’s closed loop. It’s calculable.


But people aren’t math problems.

Retail media creates people problems.


It blurs roles and responsibilities, creating fear, uncertainty and an underlying fight for power.


Retail media does this because it doesn’t fit neatly into the organizational structure.  Sales teams must drive this year’s number and their retail partners are telling them they must spend. Brand teams want to maximize reach and their agency of record is telling them it’s easier to spend another million on Facebook ads.


But neither team can agree the other’s goals are at least as important as their own, nor can they articulate the relative pros and cons of retail media.

Before the math, give your people clarity and reassurance.


The first step for leaders is to start a healthy dialogue with the people at the top of those blurred lines.


Does my head of sales feel like she’ll lose control if retail media falls under another group? Does my marketing leader appreciate the commercial realities of doing business with our retail partners?


As you dig into these questions, follow-ups should abound.


Incentives: What incentives are in place today that work for or against collaboration?


Comparability: What tests have been done on the performance of retail media to alternatives?


Blank page: What would they change about media strategy, execution and team if they had the power?


If you have enough trust built up to elicit genuine answers, this exercise will surface the underlying fears and self-preservation that is percolating beneath the surface of so many organizations.

The future is bright.


Retail media presents new complexity, which means new opportunities to differentiate. Use it well and BOTH your marketing and sales leaders have a bigger arsenal to better compete against rivals too afraid or unaware to address the real challenge retail media presents.