Last summer, when I had the privilege of speaking at MadFest, I delved into the exciting possibilities that lie ahead for retail media in the coming year. Looking back over the past two and a half years, I am astounded by the transformative journey retail media has undertaken. It has undergone a profound evolution, driven by factors such as GDPR compliance, the phasing out of third-party cookies, retailer-focused overhauls of their retail media offerings and significant technological advancements in first-party data management. Yet, amidst this dynamic change, one aspect remains constant – the focus of retail media on the lower funnel, where ROI reigns supreme.

However, in our relentless pursuit of conversion-driven results, we may have inadvertently overlooked the multitude of other dimensions within retail media. I believe that the partnership between a strong retailer and a formidable brand can yield outcomes that extend far beyond ROI – outcomes that encompass heightened visibility and brand equity.

Recent independent research we conducted in collaboration with the renowned research agency MESH uncovered some compelling insights. Participants in the study were twice as likely to take notice of brands when exposed to them through retail media compared to other mediums. Moreover, they were 2.5 times more likely to view a brand as innovative when encountered in the context of retail media. These findings indicate that the impact of retail media reaches beyond financial returns. 

What also came to light in our research is the significant influence retailers can have on consumer choices when harnessed in partnership with brands. Participants in the study were 1.7 times more likely to consider a brand and 2.5 times more likely to recommend a brand when they encountered it through Boots' retail media. This underscores the effectiveness of leveraging retail media for enhanced visibility and brand equity.

So, as we set our sights on fully realising the potential of retail media, it becomes crucial to shift our perspective. Instead of solely viewing it as a tool for immediate conversions, we must recognise it as a valuable instrument for building brand equity. The purchase cycle and the desired objectives should govern our approach to retail media, supplanting the old-fashioned channel-centric ROI mindset. 

Innovations in measurement methodologies further empower us to grasp the broader impact facilitated by retail media beyond the short-term effects. A recent study that harnessed Boots customer data to evaluate the incremental effects of omnichannel media provides a remarkable example. This study compared an audience-level test group exposed to a Boots media campaign with a non-exposed control group. The results were nothing short of astonishing. While the campaign delivered a substantial ROI in the short term, it also acted as a catalyst, attracting new shoppers to the brand and maintaining high repurchase rates. The exposed group exhibited a 53% higher incidence of new-to-brand customers, and brand sales surged by 60% in the extended six-month period following the campaign.

I believe retail media is on the cusp of a profound transformation. It is no longer a tool solely focused on enhancing conversion rates; rather, it is emerging as a multifaceted instrument capable of amplifying brand visibility, equity, and influence. As the retail landscape continues to evolve, astute marketers will embrace a broader perspective, recognising retail media as an integral component of their comprehensive media strategy. The genuine potential of retail media lies in its unique ability to unite brands and retailers, thus fostering a robust partnership capable of reshaping the marketing landscape. It is incumbent upon us to embrace this evolution and unlock the boundless opportunities that extend beyond traditional ROI considerations.