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Guest Author: Carol Spieckerman, president of Spieckerman Retail and top retail influencer, speaker, B2B advisor, corporate comms coach, and media contributor.

A few years ago, I forecasted that retail media would emerge as retailers’ favorite platform monetization play. That reality is unfolding right now, and with the promise of big money and massive margins, it’s no wonder retailers are going mad for ads. Last year, I interviewed Teresa Aprile, CEO of Brandcrush, and since that time, Criteo, a commerce media platform that supports some of the biggest names in retail, acquired the company.

The following are insights from my post-acquisition interview with Teresa and Criteo’s general manager of global enterprise, Sherry Smith.

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Sherry stated that retailers began to get serious about retail media three years ago, when many still relied on antiquated processes like email and spreadsheets to manage ad inventory, reporting, and other functions. Brandcrush demonstrated the ability to manage multiple media channels and connect disparate touchpoints through a self-serve platform, which sparked Criteo’s interest.

Now that the two companies have joined forces, brands and agencies can seamlessly discover and purchase omnichannel media at scale. Advertisers benefit by scaling campaigns across multiple retailers through opportunities that Sherry summed up as “one to one and one to many.”


The top trend Teresa is tracking is the digital transformation of the in-store experience. The movement is in its early stages, as point-of-sale displays, shelf tags, and refrigerator doors are beginning to be digitized, unlocking new retail media opportunities. Digitization brings the ability to push dynamic, localized, and personalized messaging to shoppers at specific moments, influencing shoppers with “the right message at the right time, and on that final purchase leg.”

For example, store screens remind shoppers that a local sports team is playing and offer a selection of snacks. Technology will enable retailers to monetize in-store activity much more easily and track the impact of various campaigns. Teresa predicts in-store digitization will accelerate over the next 12-18 months, and consumers can expect to see a wide spectrum of sophistication in the digital technologies retailers implement.


Teresa noted additional opportunities to expand retail media’s influence beyond retailers’ owned assets, including connected TVs, digital out-of-home (DOOH), and social media buys, all of which now have the potential to be influenced by retailers’ first-party data.


Underscoring the need for streamlined communication, Teresa stated that this element moves retailers “faster up the maturation curve” than the others. In her experience, retailers that have dedicated retail media teams and embrace outside partnerships are further along in developing robust retail media platforms.

Retail media networks are unquestionably disrupting traditional agency relationships. Sherry noted that to address this new challenge, agencies are becoming “masters of commerce” and retailers’ ad pushes are “growing the pie” for everyone rather than diminishing the role of traditional agencies.

Looking to the future, Sherry and Teresa affirmed that next-level localization and personalization will define retail media’s new frontier. Retailers can optimize this opportunity by removing complexity, streamlining processes and communication between internal teams, and unifying retailers’ media assets into one experience.

As Teresa simply put it, “Unified commerce is what it’s all about.”

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