Navigating Challenges in Retail Media Networks

Neha Ghai
August 17, 2023

At a Glance

  • Retailers and brands cautiously embrace RMN's transformative potential while acknowledging significant challenges.
  • Integration of disparate data sources is a concern for 77% of grocery executives.
  • Talent scarcity is a prominent obstacle, with 96% of senior grocery executives highlighting its impact.
  • The article outlines seven key challenges that brands and retailers must navigate to unlock the potential of retail media networks.

The rapid rise of retail media networks (RMNs) is reshaping digital advertising in the retail sector. Projections from Insider Intelligence indicate that retailers are poised to invest a staggering $45 billion in retail media spending by 2023. This potential has captured the attention of brands and retailers, fundamentally altering how they connect with their audiences. Our exploration of this complex landscape has touched on various aspects, from the impact of retail media in grocery stores to the advantages it offers to brands. However, amidst the promise of innovation, there's complexity. In this article, we will highlight seven significant challenges that brands and retailers must navigate as they embrace the transformative potential of RMNs.

Challenge 1: Integration of Disparate Data Sources

A notable challenge arises from the integration of diverse data sources within RMNs. According to Grocery Doppio's research on media modernization opportunity, 77% of grocery executives require assistance connecting disjointed data, resulting in limited visibility across multiple retail media networks. Brands investing in a single retailer's network often gain only a partial understanding, particularly as shoppers engage with products across different RMNs. Moreover, each retailer's network demands different assets, leading to inefficiencies in creative development and media buying. The absence of standardized data practices hampers cohesive insights and analysis, impeding a comprehensive view of campaign impact and customer experience.

Challenge 2: Data Standardization

RMNs offer a treasure trove of first-party data for precise targeting, yet the specifics of this data can vary widely. Retailers may draw from store data, social media signals, and search intent to inform their ad ecosystem. However, the lack of uniformity in this data landscape presents challenges for brands seeking consistent measurement and analysis.

Challenge 3: Inconsistent Campaign Reporting

Brands committed to RMNs often grapple with concerns related to campaign reporting. Customized metrics necessitate ecosystem-wide measurements, hindering holistic campaign evaluation and comparison with other strategies. Effective RMN measurement transcends traditional metrics like Incremental Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS). Brands seek diverse insights – comparing segment performance, category-specific outcomes, and engagement metrics for a comprehensive retail media assessment. Negotiating varying analytics and data practices across RMNs adds complexity. While RMNs offer valuable first-party data, proprietary restrictions may limit access, impacting campaign optimization and performance tracking.

Challenge 4: Escalating Competition

The competitive landscape within RMNs can escalate costs and reduce ad effectiveness if not managed thoughtfully. Brands vie for the same advertising space, necessitating strategic planning and execution to achieve optimal outcomes.

Challenge 5: Resource Allocation and Coordination

For retailers and brands, ownership of RMNs demands increased investment in resources and time. Coordination efforts escalate as the retailer directly purchases ad space rather than relying on third-party intermediaries. This shift underscores the importance of strategic alignment and efficient resource allocation.

Challenge 6: Talent Management

Talent scarcity is a central challenge within retail media platforms and their management. A substantial 96% of Vice Presidents and grocery executives concur that their primary obstacle lies in sourcing in-house expertise well-versed in constructing a proficient media platform. The need for more adept talent for crafting an impactful platform presents a notable challenge for retailers.

Challenge 7: Attribution Complexity

Determining whether advertising efforts translate into actual sales requires accurate assessment. Pinpointing whether a completed transaction can be solely attributed to the advertising of a single RMN poses a challenge. Comprehensive performance measurement across diverse, fragmented platforms is often overlooked. Understanding the omnichannel shopper journey and analyzing shopper intent based on historical and present behavior is key to accurate attribution. This comprehensive approach can empower brands to optimize their budget allocation for advertising endeavors.


In conclusion, retail media networks present a dynamic yet complex landscape for brands and retailers. While the potential for targeted advertising and impactful campaigns is undeniable, navigating the challenges requires a multifaceted approach encompassing data integration, standardized measurement, effective campaign management, resource allocation, and attribution metrics. As the industry works towards addressing these challenges, a more cohesive and optimized retail media ecosystem may emerge, ushering in a new era of customer engagement and brand success.