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A rising tide floats all boats: Retail media takes center stage at Cannes

And just like that, Cannes 2024 has drawn to a close.


What made me the most optimistic was the appetite I saw for collaboration across the industry, even in spaces where businesses are competitive, or lanes are crossed. The reality is, to unlock the growth that’s being forecasted and to make retail media a sustainable advertising choice for brands, the industry needs simplification.
Katie Streeter Hurle is the Chief Strategy Officer at SMG.

It was the first time SMG attended the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and what a whirlwind it was. In a few days, we clocked up tens of thousands of steps, attended over 30 talks and met a multitude of new people on streets, bars and yachts. It’s certainly an event like no other. 


I had the pleasure of attending with a group of fellow leaders from SMG, including CEO Sam Knights, Co-Founder Matt Lee, Chief Operating Officer Emma Dean and Managing Director Sean Crawford, who continues to lead our ambitious expansion in North America. 


It’s fair to say that retail media was one of the prevalent themes this year – it was on the agenda for almost every event in Cannes. While Amazon continues to lead the charge, other significant US players like Albertsons Media Collective, 84.51˚ Kroger Precision Marketing, Walmart Connect and CVS Media Exchange had a huge presence and were featured on panels throughout Cannes. 


What struck me most was the genuine recognition from the advertising industry on the transformative potential and power of retail media. It was the first time in my career that I’ve heard this category of advertising talked about with such passion and intent. 


The conversations at Cannes showed that retailers are becoming publishers to take very seriously (agencies are taking note) and that the combination of their environments with first-party data is creating a seismic shift for advertisers who want proof of the effectiveness of their campaigns.


There was also great acknowledgment that retail media can cover all parts of the funnel – upper, mid, and lower – and combine online and offline, with in-store, strategies. There’s no other type of advertising that can achieve this in such proximity to the place where a shopper can buy. 


But what made me the most optimistic was the appetite I saw for collaboration across the industry, even in spaces where businesses are competitive, or lanes are crossed. The reality is that to unlock the growth that’s being forecasted and to make retail media a sustainable advertising choice for brands, the industry needs simplification. 


During the course of the week, we had numerous conversations with Retail Media Network leaders, ad-tech partners and agencies all looking to work closer together to solve some of the challenges currently facing advertisers. By sharing insights, technologies, and approaches, we will create a more cohesive and powerful retail media ecosystem that benefits everyone involved. 


I left Cannes 2024 knowing that working together is not only necessary, but absolutely possible. 


Top Speakers in Retail Media

There were numerous exciting speakers who delved deep into the intricacies of retail media. Here were some of my personal favourite contributors to the Retail Media conversation in Cannes. 


Kristi Argyilan - SVP Retail Media at Albertsons. Such a credible & articulate expert.

Mario Mijares - VP Marketing, Insights, Loyalty, and Monetization Platforms @ 7-Eleven. Brilliant insights from the world of convenience retail. 

Alice Anson – Director of Digital Retail Media at Nectar 360. Excellently connected & no nonsense. 

Sean Crawford – Managing Director at Threefold. Always balanced across Retailer, Brand & Customer. 

Jeffrey Bustos - VP, Measurement Addressability Data at the IAB. Genuine expert in retail media measurement. 

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