Adweek selected the Mall of America to host their Retail Media Summit this year, and in the context of the long-thriving physicality of its indoor shopping complex (along with the screams of rollercoaster riders just outside the main stage), industry experts gathered to connect on the pressing matters of the fast-changing digital retail media environment. Most presenters here took the panel route, and fittingly, the prevailing themes that boiled up were those of collaboration, transparency, and trust, while also acknowledging the tactical complexities of optimization and measurement. With strong attendance throughout the day's events, it's clear that even the recent snowfall in Minnesota couldn't deter an enthusiastic audience from coming together to discuss and align on the fundamentals of retail media success.
Listening to insightful panel discussions featuring dynamic pairings such as Lisa Fischback from Mars Wrigley and her agency, along with Elizabeth Petrangelo of Bayer and her collaboration with CMX, it became evident that fostering a strong partnership dynamic helps seamlessly bridge communication, north star objectives, and expectations so that all partners find a meaningful, two-way alliance. It's even fair to admit that sometimes this means just covering the fundamentals of strong operating procedures, as these often serve as the cornerstone for successful partnerships. Having real kick offs and deep dives around strategy sessions and planning, collaborating meaningfully and honestly on JBPs, nailing the weekly status, and keeping daily communication open is how to keep an aligned vision and keep objectives on track.
Successful partnerships rely heavily on transparency and honesty between parties, a point that emerged in several panel discussions. Drew Jameson from Tillamook, in his discussion alongside Albertsons Media Collective, emphasized the importance of aligning with practical, achievable objectives with partners. He also expressed concerns about the risks that arise when KPIs do not align with brand goals. His bold assertion of avoiding the common question, 'Where's my ROI if it doesn't make sense?' is precisely the kind of insight that resonates, especially when a brand may have different objectives in mind. In essence, it's vital to establish a clear understanding of the right objectives and how to measure them. Moreover, in terms of honesty, the cosmetics experts Cristina Duong (K18) and Donna Kirkland (Tarte Cosmetics) eloquently highlighted the advantages of bringing a transparent marketing model to the communities that drive a brand's success. They discussed the measurable benefits, both in terms of performance and branding, that result from involving the community, employees, and content creators instead of traditional models – and deploying realistic lighting for more organic connections to customers.
Teams who treat each other like partners should also ensure that trust is part of the binding relationship. Nowhere is the concept of trust more fragmented, especially in terms of data integrity, than in the realm of measurement. Lee Dunbar (Starcom) talked about the intricate world of measurement and the challenges agencies face in this fragmented landscape. He also discussed the growing expectations set by ever-maturing brands, aiming to learn, optimize, and succeed. The takeaway here is that winning in retail means you need to have a more frictionless, speedier addressability to customers' intentions while optimizing against media spend and the retailers' algorithms — search is easier said than done, social platforms are eclipsing retailers' customer attention, and convenience is a major factor in where customers continue to spend their time. It's therefore critical to "work closely together with merchants and retailers on sensitive land areas" to ensure success.