Industry joins forces to agree standards for retail media

RetailMarketing and advertising client body ISBA has launched the UK’s first “Responsible Retail Media Framework”, designed as a guide to drive standardisation across definitions, data availability, attribution and transparency.

The Framework is the result of a year-long industry-wide collaboration of brands and retailers, including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Boots, Co-op, Heineken and Unilever, and their tech and consultancy partners. It is aimed at providing the emerging retail media industry with a responsible blueprint for development.

While retail media has experienced rapid growth and evolution in the UK – and globally is due to be worth $141.7bn (£115.8bn) by 2024, according to WARC Media – brand investment has been slower due to a fragmented and uneven landscape across, for instance, definitions and measurement.

ISBA’s membership includes retailers as well as brand advertisers which resulted in a collective agreement to establish a cross-industry forum of all stakeholders. Armed with brands’ needs, and working in partnership with Omnicom Media Group’s ecommerce division, Transact, ISBA was able to facilitate a working forum of retailers and their tech partners to address brand requirements.

The OMG Transact team was able to collate and analyse the retail media offer across many leading UK retailers, both emergent and well established, to build the Framework as a working guide for all parties, regardless of their stage of journey towards a full retail media offer, or individual tech deployment.

The UK’s exceptional ecommerce environment and penetration of online shopping – 84.9% of Brits are forecast to shop online in 2023, a figure which could reach 87.2% by 2027 – is the largest per-capita activity in the world and makes it one of the most attractive new media ecosystems to invest in.

The mounting pressure on brands to demonstrate the effectiveness of all their media investments requires the need for retailers to develop retail media propositions that effectively address those brand challenges.

The Framework marks out brand media investor expectations for now, next and in the future. Aware that some retailers are just beginning their media offering, while others are more advanced, for brands, the knowledge that retailers at all stages of their retail media programmes have collaborated in its development, provides them with the confidence to begin engaging.

OMG Transact’s recognised expertise in ecommerce and retail media, allowed it to simplify the brands’ ask for standards that define impressions, data availability and transparent attribution. Despite the rivalry that exists between retailers, the industry appears united in welcoming brands’ expectations for a standardised approach.

This first phase of the Framework addresses digital inventory. It is UK-centric, reflecting the UK GDPR principles governing the acquisition, use, management and sharing of consumer data, and is mindful of the range and diverse maturity of the tech platforms deployed by individual retailers.

ISBA director general Phil Smith said: “The promise of the retail media landscape is welcomed by brands, widening the opportunities for privacy-first marketing opportunities for brand penetration as well as being able to reach customers at the point of sale.

“But its rapid growth has been slowed due to the fragmentation and lack of standardisation in the channel. Marketers need to properly understand the effectiveness of their media investments in all channels and our members are keen to begin scaling in retail media. This framework seeks to make the retail media offering work better for everyone.”

Sainsburys and Argos chief marketing officer Mark Given added: “This is a very valuable piece of work, with brands investing more in retail media and driving growth there needs to be ambitious and high level goals which can only be achieved with collaboration and tech development.”

Boots Media Group omni-media director Ollie Shayer said: “The introduction of the retail media framework marks a significant milestone in the drive for standardisation within the UK’s retail media industry. This accomplishment underscores the desire within the industry for standardisation and it has been achieved through close collaboration between brands and retailers. Personally, I am thrilled to see it coming to life”

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