Key Insights from IAB’s Retail Media Buying Guide: What Leaders Should Know

    August 1, 2023
    The Retail Media Buyer’s Guide, developed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in July 2023, serves as a comprehensive resource for understanding and planning retail media advertising. It covers the fundamentals of retail media, the key ingredients to a successful approach to retail media buying, and the challenges and opportunities in this growing industry.

    You can read the full guide here. In this article, we summarized three key topics that are especially relevant for leaders:

    1) joint business planning (JBP);
    2) organizational structure; and
    3) measurement.

    Joint Business Planning

    The Buyer’s Guide discusses how leaders can foster collaboration with internal and external partners, and one component growing in importance by the minute is JBPs.

    Negotiations and Collaboration

    The significance of JBPs lies in their ability to foster stronger connections between brands and retailers.

    Through JBPs, retailers and suppliers can provide input in order to align their short-term and long-term goals and initiatives for profitability. While budget commitments are a crucial aspect of JBPs, it is equally important to focus on being specific and precise. To make JBPs truly meaningful, consulting with agencies beforehand is key.

    Consider these two types of JBPs, which have their own merits:
    • holistic, in which you have separate JBPs with the retailer’s commercial and media teams; and
    • media-led, in which trade and media discussions are brought together in a single session.
    JBPs should also go beyond financial agreements. They can be a great venue to discuss how to unlock opportunities for continued education and added value in your partnerships.

    Advertising Strategies on RMNs

    Retail Media Networks (RMNs) represent a prime example of how JBPs can create value for the relationship between brands and retailers in retail media advertising.
    Since RMNs offer a platform for brands to reach customers, JBPs can ensure that the strategies developed are aligned with the retailers’ objectives and priorities.

    As a results, the brand and the retailer can have a more productive and engaged advertising relationship than may be possible through individual tactical programs negotiated separately.

    This collaborative approach, especially as RMNs become more inclusive, can open doors for brands with smaller budgets and non-endemic brands to benefit.

    Organizational Structure

    While there is no dedicated section for organizational structure, the Buyer’s Guide touches on how the complexities of retail media advertising can impact the structure of a company.

    Breaking Down Silos

    The most important factor that directly affects organizational structure is the level of collaboration that should happen among retailer, brand, and agencies, as we’ve already covered.

    To enable this collaboration, the guide emphasizes the need to break down silos. That means moving towards cohesive execution throughout the funnel, rather than mere information sharing between teams.

    As teams embrace transparency and shared business objectives, the organization can ensure that all marketing and sales activities complement one other.
    This approach can lead to improved partnerships with retailers and more efficient allocation of resources that can help the organization unlock added value activities linked to level of investment, such as advanced reporting and testing opportunities.

    The guide illustrates different collaboration models that are worth considering:
    • Integrated Centers of Excellences (COE)
    • Hybrid
    • Outsourced
    • Shopper
    Each model has its own impact and considerations. But all of them prioritize inter-team, -agency, and -retailer collaboration.

    Optimizing Structure for Scale and Efficiency

    As a retail media buyer, you also have to consider audience scale opportunities, as it can affect your approach to purchase behavior and the potential for onsite, offsite, and in-store opportunities.

    All of these are linked to your decision on how to balance accuracy and scale. Your priorities in this area can have an influence on the structure of your retail media team.
    For example, if your priority lies in scale, you may need to allocate additional resources to the development of audience strategies and partnerships with multiple retailers. This could involve hiring personnel with expertise in audience targeting and establishing relationships with media publishers and third-party data providers.

    On the other hand, if you prioritize the efficiency of your media spend, implementing and analyzing de-duplication and frequency-capping strategies becomes essential. This might require additional expertise in data analysis, optimization, and campaign management.

    Ultimately, your approach to building your retail media team should align with the company’s priorities and objectives.


    This topic is mentioned a number of times in the guide in relation to other aspects of retail media buying. Because it’s highly important to dive into this topic, IAB may release a standalone guide for measurement alone.

    In the Retail Media Buyer’s Guide, the following discussions on measurement deserve attention.

    Closed-loop measurement

    Navigating data privacy challenges led to the development of innovative solutions like retail media, which allows brands to leverage their own customer data while ensuring privacy compliance.

    Closed-loop measurement emerges as a critical concept in this landscape, as it enables advertisers to utilize first-party data and link ad exposure data with actual sales outcomes. This deeper understanding of ad campaign effectiveness empowers teams to optimize marketing strategies effectively.

    RMNs play a vital role in the success of advertisers in this area. They can give advertisers a means to analyze the impact of advertising efforts, such as email campaigns, on the customer journey both online and in-store.

    Take note of assisted sales as well. Closed-loop measurement can help you go beyond explicit attribution credits and dive deeper into the various types of ad interactions that are driving sales regardless of RMN rules.

    Key Measurement Considerations

    To evaluate the success of ad campaigns and enhance your team’s efforts, you have to consider the following:
    • the performance indicators supplied by the retailer and whether they align with your objectives;
    • format and thoroughness of report; and
    • frequency of report and means of delivery.

    What’s Next?

    Want to learn more about IAB’s insights? Get your copy of the Retail Media Buyer’s Guide here!


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