CANNES — If you thought it was just media companies that were selling automatic online advertising, think again. Retailers are also becoming media companies, and they are using programmatic to do it.

Programmatic ad tech vendor Rubicon Project’s international GM Jay Stevens tells Beet.TV he anticipates the “confluence” of database marketing with display advertising.

“Some of the people who hold the most valuable data are the retailers,” Stevens says. “Retailers are able to leverage their core data assets … to overlay very, very valuable point of sale data, loyalty data.

“That becomes a very valuable proposition for a major retailer – (with) the products they sell on their shelves, they are making razor-thin margins in order to be competitive. In the media space, they could take advantage of those data assets at a much higher margin and grab a nice piece of the overall media pie.”

Stevens says Australian supermarket chain Coles is leading the way, having created its own internal retail trading desk, while Rubicon is also serving ads for Walmart and its UK subsidiary Asda. Furthermore, Rubicon counts Triad Retail Media, which serves engaging ads on to retailer sites, as a partner.

“They’re really thinking of their sites as publishers would – not just as a place in which to buy and sell goods,” he says. “We operate the automation platform for the way in which that media is bought and sold on those sites.”

We are starting to hear a lot about the ways in which retailers and ad tech can work together. In Cannes, Oreo and Toblerone company Mondelēz International’s marketing chief told Beet.TV he wants to bring about a fusion of media buying and ecommerce, so that his brands buy ads that drive traffic to retail sites that can sell their products.


We interviewed Stevens at the Cannes Lions Festival as part of a series on video advertising presented by Rubicon Project.  Please visit this page for more videos from the series.