Recently, Skai announced that it supports sponsored product ads on Target.com via Target’s media company, Roundel, and using the Criteo Retail Media platform.
Using the Criteo Retail Media platform API, Skai and Roundel empower brands to now reach more customers and maximize digital sales with biddable sponsored product ads on Target.com. It reflects the increasing advertiser interest—and investment—in ecommerce advertising and helps to expand an open retail media ecosystem for the fastest growing marketing channel in the world.
With Criteo’s technology powering this solution, we thought it would be a good idea to catch up with Sherry Smith, Criteo’s Managing Director, Retail Media to learn about the platform. Having been in this space for some time, we were also able to learn more about her views on the channel and the value for retailers.
Five Questions with Criteo’s Sherry Smith
Founded by a small group of great minds at a start-up incubator in Paris, Criteo has become a global leader in commerce marketing. With 2,700 employees across 28 offices worldwide, the company has become a force in performance advertising.
How did you get started in the space?
I’ve been in the retail business my entire career, so I have 20+ years of experience in retail. I started off more on the shopper marketing side, with in-store and out of store events, point of sale materials, etc. I moved into the retail media space in 2007 when I joined Triad Retail Media, whose founder was ahead of his time in thinking that retailers should become publishers. Walmart was one of our largest clients, and we partnered with them to develop their media program, growing their business significantly before they shifted its media program in-house. I joined Retail Media by Criteo in May 2020, right as we launched the Retail Media Platform.
What interested you about Retail Media by Criteo?
Triad was ahead of its time and had fantastic people innovating in the space, but unfortunately, it lacked a proprietary technology solution for retailers. I was familiar with Criteo, but I got really excited when I learned about Criteo’s vision to build a transparent by design, end-to-end platform to serve both retailers and brands. I felt what Criteo is doing was leap years ahead of their competition and would help retailers become successful publishers faster.
How has Retail Media by Criteo evolved through the years?
Criteo entered the retail media space with the acquisition of HookLogic in 2016. This helped us enable retailers to monetize their websites with Sponsored Product advertising opportunities—like paid search for ecommerce.
In addition, Criteo acquired a company called Storetail in 2018, to help retailers offer new creative formats and targeting options. We’ve seen that brands especially love ad formats that allow them to combine a branded asset alongside selected SKUs.
In 2020, we brought these technologies together with our new Retail Media Platform. Now, retailers can manage all formats, including sponsored products and display with one platform. Our new platform also shifted Criteo to a completely transparent model.
For many years, Criteo also operated a non-transparent network model, where brands invested a certain amount, relied on Criteo AI to allocate budget across retailers, and saw aggregated reporting. With the launch of the new Retail Media platform, Retail Media by Criteo has blown up this blind network. Brands now have complete control over where their ads run and can see reporting at the individual retailer level. In addition, brands have full transparency into pricing, as many now expect from all media-buying technology, so they can see exactly how much money is going toward media and how much is going toward fees.
What is the opportunity for retailers to offer a retail media solution to advertisers?
Operating ecommerce is very expensive compared to traditional brick and mortar retail. We’ve heard from our retailer clients that the high-margin, secondary revenue stream from retail media is a key strategy to help offset that cost.
One way to think about the total opportunity size is to consider that Amazon currently represents about 40% of ecommerce sales and has projected advertising revenue of $20 billion in 2022. This means the total potential advertising opportunity for retailers is north of $50 billion. Research we recently commissioned with Forrester also shows that brands feel they are over-indexing ad spend on Amazon and are looking to diversify spend to be more in line with where they drive overall sales.
In addition, retail media provides opportunities for retailers to deepen relationships with their brand manufacturers. Increasingly, brands are looking for more transparency into the results of their media investments. And now more than ever, as store traffic is down, they are looking to move marketing budgets from offline to online. Lastly, retail media helps both retailers and brands provide a more personalized and relevant experience for shoppers through all stages of their journeys, from discovery to purchase.
Why should retailers work with Retail Media by Criteo as a technology partner versus build it themselves?
Some very large retailers such as Amazon have the resources to build out their own technology, but they are by far the exception. Building out technology also takes time, and the opportunity cost is huge given the rapid acceleration of retail media. I think most retailers will choose to partner with a technology provider.
A few things make Retail Media by Criteo unique. First, we have massive scale, and the infrastructure in place to support the largest retailers in the world, such as Target. We are also trusted by these retailers to preserve the shopping experience, and we lean into our well-known strength in AI to ensure that only relevant ads are shown to users. Secondly, we understand the retail business and have years of experience empowering marketing, merchant, and loyalty teams.
Finally, an ads ecosystem is both supply and demand, and we power an end-to-end platform for this ecosystem. Our platform is being embraced by the world’s largest agencies who want the ability to buy across many retailers using standardized workflows and metrics. We are also so excited about our API partnership with Skai, which will enable brands to take advantage of tools they may already be using for buying on Walmart and Amazon, or even search and social. By partnering with technology providers like Skai, we seek to help retailers scale demand as rapidly as possible in order to maximize revenue.
For more information on this topic, read the Skai white paper
The way consumers buy now has dramatically changed from just ten years ago. Meanwhile, manufacturers continue to adjust to the tumultuous evolution of retail. Retailers must adapt to better serve the new needs of both consumers and manufacturers while finding new revenue streams to remain viable.
Download your complimentary copy of Commerce Advertising: Retailer Private Ad Marketplaces Cater to the New Needs of Manufacturers.
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