Funny enough, the marketing community is a quiet one. It’s almost as though, after spending days trying to make noise for the solutions, products, and ideas we represent in our work lives, we turn the lights off and decide to be as quiet as possible. When compared to the dev community or to the R&D world which is rich with meetups, slack channels, podcasts and medium posts, marketers like to keep their activities a secret. 

Yet, and as a marketer working to serve retail marketers, I am often amazed at the need of my peers for more content and educated advice. The retail industry is often over-served with service providers and consultants willing to give you answers but lacks a layer of “community” where the real marketers, sitting across their charts on a Monday morning need to figure out what happened with their campaigns, how to get the data from the IT team, and how to work with their brand partners and management to get the funds to optimize their current activities.

When you put these observations in the context of retail media, the need to create a community of early adopters and a place to ask questions and learn from the experience of others becomes even more important. “Retail media” is at the top of the list of most retailers, as it is poised to become an engine for revenue growth. The idea is simple: retailers can monetize their media assets by enabling their brands to advertise on their site/apps/social media platforms. The execution is less simple than that: how do you run ads? How do you attract and maintain brand investments? How to show return on investments?… At ciValue, we lead dozens of conversations with retailers, brands, industry analysts and media practitioners every week. Lately, most of these conversations have focused on the practical aspects of retail media: from identifying the right strategy, to discussing tactical aspects of working with brands to create audiences to be used on social media, all the way to the grail of all marketing teams “measurements”.

Given the lack of best practices and the need for retail media pioneers and veterans to share experiences, we decided to launch the Retail Talks initiative to create a platform and a community where retail media leaders can share their stories and help the retail community shape better practices, create value for brands and together rationalize and optimize their media spend while growing their customer’s value!

So far we have interviewed four absolute rockstars (and more to come!) from a diversity of backgrounds and learned from every single one of them a key piece of information on how to launch and manage retail media efforts. Here are some of the key takeaways of these conversations:

1 – There is no minimal size for retailers to do retail media

While the regular conception is that retail media is for the giants of this world, the real metric here is: how are you going to make it significant for the brands? As David Namer from Criteo puts it: “ You need to be significant in terms of the amount of assets that you are monetizing: have a minimum number of stores, a minimum number of data users, […] you need to have an audience, in order to make it significant for the brands.”

Lawrence Taylor, Retail 4 Brands, mentioned that for those smaller retailers, they: “need to unite, in terms of their forces so that they have an offer, which is big enough to be interesting for brands to activate on those platforms. And together they will be stronger than being isolated.”

But the main focus is clear: it’s all about making it attractive for the brands.

2 – There is no other way but to hit the ground running

Retail media is new to everyone: to your team, to your brands, and to your management. So make sure you test everything and work in short cycles.

According to Jessica Koch, from Douglas: “I would advise everyone to take a bit of time to prepare thoroughly. If I were to do it again, I would probably think everything through and do A/B tests, what’s the go-to market, what’s the communication with the brands, test the whole tech stack, make the buy or build or both decisions.” She adds “We really like to start very small and have an MVP approach when it comes to onboarding. And then usually it does work and the ramp-up comes automatically.”

3 – It’s all about the brands! Make it “self-serve”

As David Namer, Criteo puts it: “It’s not just about getting the money from the brands. It’s also getting some information and being in a sharing process. Now part of the tech is enabling the self-service approach – that is meant to be used as a self-service by brands, by the agencies or by whoever you want. So then the retailers bring the raw material and the tech takes the reading.”

The real enabler here is tech. David Hoodis even notes: “The true shift takes place with data and analytics that provide brands with where to focus their attention. The other part of the shift is dependent on the brands to “truly invest” in right retail strategies and right retailers.”

I hope you will enjoy reading these interviews as much as we enjoyed conducting them. I want to thank all those who participated. We are only just getting started. So please feel free to contact me if you want to take part in the Retail Talks, recommend a coworker, or share some questions that you would want us to investigate!