What Frustrates Retail Media Buyers (According To The IAB)

A new survey of media buyers by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) shows growth for retail media networks (RMN) this year. But it is hard to square that finding with the hurdles cited by RMN ad buyers, including lack of standards and transparency. 

Of 200 RMN ad buyers polled, 69% complained about complexity in the buying process, while 62% griped about lack of measurement standards. Worse, only 12% of ad buyers are “very satisfied” with their RMN partner relationships. 

Is everyone on the same page here?      

That disconnect is why the IAB and Media Rating Council (MRC) are working to “identify existing standards, define common metrics, and create guidelines to ensure consistent measurement across platforms, promoting transparency and confidence in retail media investment," according to Jeffrey Bustos, vice president, measurement, addressability, Data Center, IAB. 

Those proposed standards cover in-store digital placed-based measurements, ad delivery, viewability, incrementality, reporting, and transparency.

Despite all the hassles, spending on RMNs is expected to grow by 11% YoY in 2023. And of the buyers making such investments, the spend is projected to jump by 20%. 

Moreover, 52% of those investing in RMN are reallocating funds from digital platforms, including social, search and digital video/connected television (CTV). And 36% are moving money over from linear TV, print and out-of-home. 

Why are they bothering? They hope to:

  • Reach incremental audiences — 55%
  • Leverage first-party retailer data — 52%
  • Drive performance — 48% 
  • Leverage customer data — 45%

This is all the more reason why RMNs should get their measurement tools together to simplify buying. On a positive note, some are providing self-service and managed-service platforms. 

"In some ways, we are reliving the formative years of the ad-supported internet and developing solutions for brands, buyers, ad tech and retailers to grow their businesses responsibly. We can, and are, helping RMNs realize their full potential -- which is very gratifying," says David Cohen, CEO of the IAB.

Stakeholders can comment on those guidelines up to October 13. 

"Everyone notes a lack of alignment of stakeholders across shopper marketing, performance marketing, brand marketing and beyond," Bustos concludes. "There's a big opportunity for brands to leap ahead of their competition if they do the work to align everyone's interests and provide a unified point of view and clarity around goals."


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