Top Retail Media Networks vs. Emerging RMNs


etail media has emerged as a pivotal force in digital advertising, akin to traditional media outlets like publishers and television networks, but with a retail-focused twist. Retailers leverage their platforms—ranging from websites and apps to physical store environments—to offer diverse advertising opportunities. The most basic form of this is on-site advertising, where ads are integrated into the retailer's own channels, such as Amazon Sponsored Product ads on their site or digital displays in physical stores.

Off-site advertising extends the reach of these campaigns beyond the retailer's immediate channels to third-party platforms through social media or other websites. This type of advertising, often more complex, involves strategies like retargeting, where customers are targeted with ads on different platforms after visiting a retailer's site. This sophistication in targeting is typically a hallmark of more mature retail media networks.

What is a Retail Media Network?

Retail media networks represent a transformative evolution in digital advertising, where retailers utilize their platforms to offer ad spaces, akin to traditional media outlets. These networks allow brands to place ads directly where shoppers are making purchase decisions, both online and in-store. A retail media network leverages a retailer's website, mobile app, and even physical stores to showcase advertisements such as sponsored product listings or digital displays. As the interface between retail and media continues to blur, these networks provide advertisers with access to rich consumer data, enabling highly targeted marketing strategies that align closely with shopper behaviors and preferences. This integration offers a unique advantage: connecting ads to actual consumer purchases, providing advertisers with actionable insights into the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Understanding Retail Media Networks

Retail media networks allow retailers to extend their influence beyond traditional advertising by utilizing their platforms, ranging from websites and apps to in-store environments, to offer diverse advertising opportunities. The most common form is on-site advertising, where ads are placed directly within the retailer’s own channels—like Amazon Sponsored Product ads on their website or digital displays in physical stores. This proximity to the point of purchase enhances the likelihood of conversion, making it a powerful tool for marketers.

Services Offered by Top Retail Media Networks

Beyond mere ad placements, top retail media networks offer comprehensive services that enhance the value for brands. These include advanced data analytics, self-serve advertising platforms, and campaign management assistance. This holistic approach helps brands optimize their advertising strategies effectively, leveraging the retailer's extensive data on shopper behaviors and preferences.

Top Global Retail Media Networks by Revenue

1. Amazon Advertising - Dominates the retail media landscape with a substantial portion of the U.S. retail media ad spend. Amazon offers a wide array of advertising solutions across its online and physical platforms, capitalizing on its extensive first-party data from over 200 million monthly active shoppers in the U.S. alone​ (SellerApp)​​ (Improvado)​.

2. Walmart Connect - Second to Amazon, Walmart Connect integrates digital and physical retail, reaching millions through its extensive store network and online presence. It offers diverse ad formats including search, display, and in-store options​ (Digilant)​​ (Improvado)​.

3. Alibaba - While not detailed in the sources, Alibaba is a significant player in the global market, especially in Asia, where it leverages vast consumer data from its e-commerce and retail platforms.

4. eBay Ads - Known for its robust targeting and measurement capabilities, eBay provides various advertising options like promoted listings and display ads, catering to its large base of buyers and sellers​ (Tinuiti)​.

5. Target Roundel - Offers a seamless advertising experience across Target’s physical stores and digital channels, allowing brands to engage with millions of shoppers through sophisticated targeting and personalized ads​ (Digilant)​​ (Improvado)​.

6. Kroger Precision Marketing - Focuses on integrating customer insights from its grocery platforms to offer targeted advertising that reaches consumers both online and in-store​ (Digilant)​.

Top USA Retail Media Networks by Revenue

1. Amazon Advertising - Leading the field by a significant margin, Amazon harnesses its vast array of consumer data to offer a comprehensive suite of advertising solutions, including sponsored products and display ads, across its extensive online and physical presence​ (Tinuiti)​​ (Improvado)​.

2. Walmart Connect - A close second, this network leverages Walmart's massive foot traffic and online presence, offering a variety of advertising options such as search and display ads that reach a broad consumer base both online and in-store​ (Tinuiti)​​ (Adweek)​​ (Digilant)​.

3. Target Roundel - Known for integrating advertising seamlessly across its digital and physical platforms, Target Roundel offers targeted advertising solutions using first-party data from its substantial customer base​ (Adweek)​​ (Digilant)​.

4. Kroger Precision Marketing - Specializing in the grocery sector, this network utilizes detailed first-party data from its loyalty programs to offer targeted advertising solutions across multiple channels, including digital and connected TV​ (Adweek)​.

5. CVS Media Exchange (CMX) - Focused on health and wellness, CVS uses its extensive loyalty program data to provide omnichannel advertising solutions that include new digital formats and partnerships with premium publishers​ (Adweek)​.

6. eBay Ads - Offers a unique marketplace for advertisers where each seller gets individual page listings, enhancing visibility and targeting capabilities. eBay Ads has a wide range of advertising options including promoted listings and offsite ads​ (Tinuiti)​.

7. Instacart Ads - As a leader in online grocery delivery, Instacart offers targeted advertising solutions within its shopping platform, capitalizing on its detailed insights into consumer purchasing habits​ (Digilant)​.

8. Walgreens Advertising Group (WAG) - Competes closely with CVS in the pharmacy sector, utilizing its significant retail footprint and loyalty program data to provide targeted advertising solutions across both digital and physical channels​ (Adweek)​.

9. Home Depot’s Orange Apron Media - Focuses on the home improvement sector, offering targeted advertising solutions that leverage its strong brand presence among homeowners and professional contractors​ (Adweek)​.

10. Wayfair Media Solutions - Specializes in home goods and furniture, offering targeted advertising options like sponsored products and shops that leverage its niche customer base and robust digital presence​ (Tinuiti)​.

Recent Developments and Strategic Partnerships

The landscape of retail media networks is evolving rapidly with several notable developments and strategic partnerships that highlight the sector's dynamic nature.

Read the official CNET partnership announcement from Best Buy

New Retail Media Networks Launches

Saks Fifth Avenue, Chase, and T-Mobile have each announced the launch of their own retail media networks. This expansion reflects a broader trend where traditional and non-traditional retailers alike are seizing the opportunity to monetize their customer data and traffic through targeted advertising.

Macy's has made a strategic move to strengthen its retail media capabilities by recruiting a former Walmart RMN executive, signaling its serious intent to compete in this lucrative space.

Tech-Driven Partnerships Enhance Capabilities

Instacart and Lowe's Companies, Inc. have teamed up with Google to enhance their retail media solutions. This partnership aims to leverage Google's advanced analytics and advertising technologies to refine and boost the effectiveness of their retail media offerings.

Best Buy has partnered with CNET to integrate tech reviews and content with their advertising, enhancing consumer engagement and providing a richer shopping experience.

Rebranding and Expansions

The Home Depot has rebranded its retail media network, which demonstrates its commitment to evolving and expanding its advertising solutions to meet the changing needs of marketers.

Walmart Connect has announced ambitious plans for growth, aiming to capitalize on Walmart's massive in-store and online traffic to offer advertisers unparalleled access to consumers.

Innovative Collaborations

Albertsons Companies has announced a partnership with Criteo, focusing on leveraging Criteo's sophisticated targeting technology to enhance Albertsons' advertising effectiveness. This collaboration is part of Albertsons' strategy to provide superior value to brands through more precise consumer targeting and data-driven insights.

These initiatives reflect a clear trend: as retail media networks grow in sophistication and reach, they are becoming increasingly integral to the advertising strategies of brands across various sectors. By leveraging unique audience insights and advanced technological capabilities, these networks offer targeted advertising that promises higher efficiency and effectiveness, making them a critical component of modern digital marketing strategies.

(Source: Digital Commerce 360)

Why Retail Media Networks Are Flourishing Today

Several factors contribute to the rising popularity of retail media networks:

Traditional Advertising Challenges: With rising costs and increased privacy regulations impacting traditional channels, retail media offers an attractive alternative.

Direct Consumer Connections: Unlike other advertising mediums, retail media networks capitalize on direct relationships with consumers, providing advertisers with precise targeting based on rich first-party data.

The Amazon Effect and Competitive Dynamics

Amazon's retail media network sets a high bar in the industry, but other networks like Walmart Connect, Target’s Roundel, and Kroger Precision Marketing are also making significant strides. These networks are enhancing their interaction with both advertisers and consumers through innovative advertising solutions and strategic use of data.

Innovations in In-Store and Off-Site Advertising

Advanced retail media networks are exploring new frontiers such as in-store digital media, which offers unique engagement opportunities. Concurrently, the expansion into off-site advertising allows these networks to leverage their comprehensive data across a broader array of digital platforms, enhancing both reach and impact.

Expert Insights on Investment in Niche RMNs

The diversity among retail media networks (RMNs) is vast, with only a select few standing out in terms of audience size and capabilities. As Sri Rajagopalan notes, "A handful have separated themselves in audience size and capabilities. At the end of the day, like store traffic and number of stores that leads a Joint Business Plan (JBP) and focus, so does the quality of RM and audience size." This perspective highlights that while not all RMNs offer the same value, their unique characteristics shouldn't deter investors but rather encourage a more nuanced investment approach.

Rajagopalan’s insight underscores that investing in RMNs should not be seen as a 'do not invest' scenario but rather as 'invest with caution.' This approach mirrors the strategic planning necessary in traditional retail settings, where the potential of a location is critically assessed based on foot traffic and store count. Similarly, the strength of an RMN can often be gauged by its audience quality and scale, necessitating a careful evaluation process.

Strategic Considerations for Advertisers

When considering investment in RMNs, it’s crucial for advertisers to look beyond sheer numbers:

Detailed Audience Analysis: Marketers need to delve deep into the demographics that each RMN serves to ensure alignment with their target market.

Performance Metrics: Establishing clear performance indicators and robust analytics is essential to accurately measure the success of campaigns.

Pilot Testing and Partnerships: Engaging in pilot tests allows brands to tweak their approaches based on initial feedback before committing significant budgets, while partnerships can provide deeper insights and enhanced capabilities from RMN providers.

These strategies help advertisers maximize their investments, making informed decisions that align with their long-term marketing goals.


The evolving retail media landscape offers marketers a spectrum of opportunities to connect with consumers. By leveraging both large and niche networks effectively and adapting strategies to align with consumer behaviors and technological advancements, brands can realize significant benefits from their advertising investments.

May 5, 2024
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