CANNES – Many retailers have created media networks to sell digital advertising space to brands that want to reach consumers as they shop online. The emergence of these networks is adding another dimension to the relationships between marketers of consumer brands and retailers, as retailers become suppliers of advertising inventory to the companies that supply their stores.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time to really embrace that added layer to the relationship with our retailers,” Aaron Sobol, head of media investments and partnerships at consumer-packaged goods giant Unilever, said in this interview with consultant and Beet.TV contributor Joanna O’Connell.

A key strength for retailers is the comprehensive purchasing data they have, giving them a way to compare how different brands perform on store shelves. Retailers that offer loyalty programs also can capture vast troves of data about consumer purchase histories – and marketers can harness this information improve ad messaging and targeting.

“Many of our largest partners have launched networks that have given us the opportunity to connect with really strong data that was not available before — and measure it in a way that is not available other than through these partners,” Sobol said.

Retail media is one of the newest parts of the advertising landscape that has carved out significant territory alongside internet search, social media and digital-display on the open web.

“When we think about media holistically…is to say: how does this sort of introduction over the past five to ten years really impact the whole media mix?” Sobol said. “There’s a lot of progress being made and still a lot of work to be done.”

For a company like Unilever, which has decades of information about its past campaigns to help inform its media-buying strategy, retail media will become more important as retailers learn to serve the needs of advertisers. Sobol said the company seeks to be a partner to retailers that are working to expand ad sales.

“As good partners, we want to make sure that we could share our experience, to make sure that retail media networks have the learnings that could kind of help them start running, sprinting, flying quicker than a crawl, walk,” he said.

You’re watching coverage of the Global Retail Media Summit at Cannes Lions 2023, presented by Criteo & Habu. For more videos from Beet.TV’s Cannes Lions 2023 coverage, please visit this page.