Topics Covered: June 27, 2022

  1. The state of retail media
  2. Amazon Marketing Stream
  3. DTC to wholesale
  4. New Q-Commerce tests
  5. Physical-Digital analogues

The State of Retail Media

We all know the number of retail media platforms has grown.


But it becomes crystal clear when you put it down on paper. 🤯 🤯 🤯  

I'm sure I didn't capture them all, but there's 29 listed on this chart and my gut is telling me Dick's Sporting Goods will be the next big retailer to announce an offering.

Retail media is transformative on two levels:

  1. It changes how consumer brands do business with their big retail customers, many of which have specific ad growth goals they’re trying to achieve. Like paying for shelf placement or committing hard-to-measure trade spend to an account, retail media is a critical, required part of doing wholesale business nowadays.
  2. It’s also reshaping the digital ad industry which is undergoing a mid-life crisis of sorts from the death of the cookie and Apple's controversial privacy initiatives. As the social media feedback loop breaks, first-party data becomes all the more valuable, providing a tailwind to the retail media industry. Much like brands have specialists for search engine marketing and social media, retail media specialists will become commonplace.

I got the chance to sit down with my former colleague Claire McBride, Head of Research, Insights and Education for Netrush, and friend Raj Sapru, Chief Strategy Officer, Netrush to explore retail media in more detail. Thanks for having me on Claire and Raj!

Key Topics Discussed

  • 2:47 Defining retail media and its importance
  • 6:00 Have an end goal in mind
  • 6:56 Silos are holding consumer brands back
  • 11:39 Have we reached paid placement saturation?
  • 17:10 Funding and allocating retail media spend
  • 19:12 Do the rich just get richer?
  • 20:58 Considering lifetime value
  • 22:46 How to become more strategic with retail media
  • 25:55 The skills your organization needs for retail media
  • 31:52 Hiring, outsourcing, and upskilling for retail media
  • 39:17 Rethinking prerequisites for retail media investments
  • 42:14 Are consumers okay with this?
  • 44:18 Key questions for the Brandrunner to check their progress on retail media
  • 47:06 A test-and-learn mindset is critical

For the Nerds

Real time Amazon ad management: Amazon launched Amazon Marketing Stream (AMS) at Cannes Lion this past week. The new capability provides API users automated access to hourly performance metrics, an improvement to the manually pulled daily metrics previously available. This capability provides a shorter, more accurate, feedback loop for advertisers, helping them more finely manage ad campaigns. As the number of retail media platforms expands, measurement and reporting are important determinants for advertisers allocating their finite budgets. Capabilities like this, along with Amazon Marketing Cloud, will help Amazon maintain its leading position in retail media. Advertisers that don’t have the in-house tech/talent or agency partners to leverage these tools will be at a disadvantage that only grows over time. (link)


DTC to Wholesale: Forerunner Ventures has backed household DTC brands like Hims & Hers, Away, Glossier, and The Farmer's Dog to name a few. Jason Bornstein, Principal at Forerunner Ventures, laid out his thought process on why it makes sense to start DTC and then expand to wholesale once there is pull in the market. I love this concept. It makes an easier sale to a potential retail buyer that is looking for brands that can convert existing shoppers not currently buying the category inside their stores. But DTC brands can underestimate what it takes to win in wholesale where there are constrained PDPs, less granular performance information, less fluidity on product assortment, and less room for operational error. (link)


New Q-Commerce Pilots in Canada: Both DoorDash and Walmart announced Q-Commerce initiatives in the Canadian market.

  • DoorDash announced plans to build dark store warehouses (~3k SF/dark store) that will house 5,000-8,000 Loblaws' President's Choice items and be delivered in 30-minutes or less. DoorDash will warehouse the items supplied by Loblaws, and then receive orders and deliver them to the end consumer. (link)
  • Walmart is partnering with Instacart to enable delivery in “as fast as 30 minutes” in Toronto. Consumers will order through Instacart, which will pick/pack/deliver out of Walmart stores, offering 4,000 items in total. (link)
  • Q-Commerce is the most controversial topic in digital retail today. Recent exits like Buyk and JOKR fuel thoughts that the model is never going to be sustainable, and that the consumer doesn't even want fast delivery. Yet, here we are, with two major omni-enablers initiating new tests that aim to fulfill one of many different consumer use cases that exist in convenience and grocery shopping.


Browsing & Searching: Simon Property Group, one of the largest mall owners in the country (and owner of JCPenney and Aeropostale) debuted "Simon Search", a new tool that allows shoppers to search for product availability inside the mall. The announcement stands out as a way malls are trying to apply the consumer desire for efficiency in online retailing to their physical experience. Online stores often attempt the opposite, trying to build more discovery experiences into a digital environment. Both remind me of metaverse trials essentially making unnecessary analogues to the physical world. I don’t (yet?) have the answer, but there has to be more creativity coming. (link)


Final thought of the week triggered by my friend Sreenath: How long until retail media reaches parity?