In times of change, companies that were once advertising buyers are becoming ad publishers, and executives who were agency-side are joining technology enablers.

That is what Brian Gleason, GroupM global chief commercial officer, is doing by joining technology firm Criteo.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Gleason explains why he sees “retail media,” as enabled by Criteo, as a growth engine.

Commerce rising

Amazon investor data confirms it has an advertising business doing almost $31 billion a year in revenue. Over the last year or two, Target, Walmart, Kroger and CVS have all launched their own media networks.

In the UK, too, health retailer Boots has turned its Boots.com, as well as its physical stores, into inventory for its product partners, flanked by its own in-house agency.

“Looking out on the horizon, there’s no bigger opportunity for the entire ecosystem, whether it’s brands, retailers, suppliers, agencies,” Gleason says.

“Everyone is looking and understands the growth potential of commerce media.”

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Considerate commerce

“Retail media opens up a phenomenal opportunity for most retailers to create a new revenue stream, allows them to monetize their assets in a way that they haven’t done in the past,” Gleason says.

“But to do that, you have to be incredibly considerate because, if a retailer were to go too far into that and not put the appropriate technology or put a display out in the wrong place, they detract from consumer attention.

“So I think having the right technology in that is incredibly important.”

Agencies adapt

The emergence of commerce media, or retail media, isn’t just a consideration for retailers themselves. It is also forcing agencies to change tack, including to target search-oriented users.

“In the past, maybe they went to Google, maybe they went to Bing, and maybe they went to Amazon,” Gleason says.

“But now suddenly more and more search opportunities are opening up and they have to make sure they understand first and foremost where to look to find these assets.”

He says agencies are having to adapt.

“The agencies are doing a great job, but … there’s an enormous need for education in terms of this entire ecosystem, how to measure it, how to track it, how to activate it.”

Changing times

Before his current role at GroupM, Gleason had also been CEO of Xaxis, a programmatic audience platform.

He explains three reasons why he is making the switch:

  1. Shopper engagement. “They understand intent and they understand shopper behaviour and they understand the ecosystem.”
  2. Acquisition of IPONWEB. “IPONWEB has been really the plumbing for much of our ecosystem, bringing that on board allows access to that shopper.”
  3. Growth. “Criteo and the commerce platform is certainly well positioned to open up that opportunity and do for the open web much to what Amazon’s done within their environment.”

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