Breaking Down Silos to Unlock the Full Potential of Retail Media Networks

Jun 12, 2023

Introduction: In today’s rapidly evolving marketing landscape, Retail Media Networks (RMNs) have emerged as a critical component of marketers’ media strategies. According to a recent article in Insider Intelligence, RMNs have grown exponentially across an exploding number of retailers, becoming a $30Billion channel in just 5 years.

With the deprecation of first-party data and the need for real-time insights into shopper behavior, RMNs offer a tantalizing antidote to both trade marketers and media buyers. However, to harness the full potential of these networks, brands must avoid the pitfalls of organizational silos, and provide the resulting teams with the optimal tools to make win/win decisions retail media decision that benefit the company overall.

Collaboration between brand and trade marketers and category managers, alongside media planners and buyers, can be crucial for maximizing return on investment (ROI) in RMNs and achieving both trade marketing and media effectiveness. Too often the two groups are functioning with separate budgetary parameters or not working off the same models to drive the most effective media buying decisions.

Let’s look at what each group brings to the challenge:

Brand and Trade Marketers:

Brand marketers, including shopper marketers, category managers and omnichannel leads play a crucial role managing sales, and coordinating merchandising and promotions with distribution partners at retailers. Their skill sets revolve around understanding consumer behavior, market trends, and effectively positioning products within both the physical and online retail environments. They typically possess the following key competencies:

• Retail Strategy: Trade marketers and brand category managers have a deep understanding of the retail landscapes in which their products are sold. They develop strategies to maximize product visibility, optimize shelf space allocation, and ensure effective pricing and promotion tactics are negotiated and well executed across an array of retail partners, increasingly in both physical and online environments.
• Merchandising Expertise: These professionals excel in creating compelling product displays and planograms that capture shoppers’ attention and drive sales. They have an eye for visual aesthetics and possess strong knowledge of consumer purchasing behavior.
• Channel Collaboration: Trade marketers and omnichannel leads and brand category managers establish strong partnerships with retailers, negotiating slotting fees, and ensuring optimal product placement. They possess exceptional communication and negotiation skills to drive mutual success.

Digital Media Planners and Buyers:

Media planners and buyers specializing in digital opportunities, play a pivotal role in targeting specific audiences and executing programmatic buying across relevant channels. Their expertise lies in leveraging digital platforms and various data analytics tactics to deliver targeted messages to the right audiences that can generate measurable outcomes. The following core competencies define their skill sets:

• Data-Driven Insights: Digital media planners and buyers are adept at analyzing consumer data and identifying targets and how best to reach them. They leverage sophisticated tools and technologies to extract actionable insights, enabling precise audience targeting and effective campaign optimization.
• Multi-Channel Mastery: These professionals have a deep understanding of various digital channels, as well as offline media, that in combination make up the optimal media mix. Their core competency lies in balancing expenditures and often dynamic investments across channels including social media, search engine advertising, display advertising, and video advertising. They are tasked with crafting integrated media strategies that reach consumers at multiple touchpoints.
• Programmatic Proficiency: Digital media planners and buyers excel in utilizing programmatic buying to automate media purchases and optimize ad placements in real-time. They possess a strong grasp of ad exchanges, demand-side platforms (DSPs), and supply-side platforms (SSPs). They lean on direction that comes from robust data analysis to retrospectively calculate ROAS, and proactively optimize their media plans to achieve optimal growth in the future.

The Pitfalls of Organizational Silos

Failure to bridge the gap between these two groups can lead to several detrimental outcomes. Budget disputes often arise when teams compete over limited resources, hindering the overall marketing effectiveness. Moreover, the absence of collaboration can result in one team allocating budgets without considering the expertise and domain knowledge of the other, leading to suboptimal decision-making and wasted opportunities.

Harnessing the Power of MMM for Optimal ROI

Retail Media Networks, especially if brands are investing in several, produce a maddeningly complex set of data to analyze (time, geo-spatial data based on physical location of stores, consumer behavior on and offline, and the staggering array of products many sales and media teams must account for).

There is renewed enthusiasm across the media analytics industry in the power of robust Market Mix Models (MMM) to make sense of increasingly complicated media planning required to optimize RMN spend as part of overall advertising strategies.

The best MMMs enable marketers to analyze behavioral, historical sales, and other causal data at the individual channel partner level across all media. With this granular understanding, organizations can identify the most effective tactics for driving sales within retail settings, analyzing overall media spend as well as the relative contribution of each media partner, including RMNs, in relation to each other.


As Retail Media Networks assume greater significance in marketers’ media partner choices, organizations must dismantle the barriers of organizational silos to achieve optimal ROI.

By embracing collaboration between brand marketing and media management and providing them with effective tools like MMM, advertisers can leverage the strengths of both groups to make better-informed decisions that drive sales growth effectively.

By embracing these strategies, organizations can seize the opportunities presented by RMNs and unlock their true potential in today’s dynamic retail landscape.