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Webinar recap: Top 10 key takeaways from “Mastering Retail Media Fundamentals with Boots Media Group”

This morning, we held our first webinar in the quarterly series “Talking Shop” - a free, easy-to-digest webinar series that shines a light on the best in the industry and their stories so far. 

Today’s webinar looked at the fundamentals of retail media and how important it is to get the core principles right. 

SMG’s CEO, Sam Knights, was joined by special guests:

  • Ollie Shayer, Omni-Media Director at Boots

  • Matt Atlay, Retail Media Director at L’Oréal

  • Victoria Keenan, Marketing Director UKI at Bayer

  • Rosie Houston, Managing Director at Boots Media Group

Missed it? The recording will be available to watch soon. Until then, here are our top 10 key takeaways in this quarter’s webinar recap.

1️⃣ Growth: spending is expected to reach £4 billion in 2024

Retail media revenue grew by 10% last year, reaching $120 billion globally. Forecasts predict an additional 8.3% expansion in 2024, totaling $130 billion. In the UK, spending is expected to reach £4 billion this year, a 16% increase and the fastest-growing sector in advertising.

2️⃣ Evolution: the third wave of digital advertising

Now known as the third wave of digital advertising, retail media has evolved since the 1990s when retailers began monetising 'point of sale' materials like shelf-edge advertising. Brands recognised the value of 'shopper marketing' at the point of purchase in the early 2000s. 

Whilst first-party data for advertising has been in use for years, the shift to online shopping in the 2010s drove brands to leverage digital channels for targeting.


The impending end of third-party cookies has prompted brands to explore new digital advertising approaches and today, Retail Media Networks offer a sophisticated, data-driven myriad of touchpoints (online, in-store & offsite) that allow brands to target the right consumers, in the right way, at the right time, across the right channels.

3️⃣ The fragmented advertising landscape

Shopping behaviours underwent significant changes by the 2010s, with increasing online decision-making impacting in-store purchasing patterns. 

Retailers now possess vast amounts of data, accelerated by COVID-19, leading to the evolution of retail media into a digital-first, hyper-personalised, and sustainable marketing solution, focusing on the point of purchase (PoP). 

This growth is driven by the fragmentation of the advertising landscape, shifting away from traditional ATL (above-the-line) methods like TV advertising. 

Today, with more fragmented media consumption, brands struggle to reach their target audiences effectively. Retail media has emerged as a key driver of awareness and discovery, leveraging its extensive reach to engage potential customers across various touchpoints in the consumer journey.

4️⃣ Data & loyalty

Retailer 1PD, and the importance of retailer loyalty schemes, has exponentially increased in the last couple of years - driven by the deprecation of the 3rd party cookie. 

In fact, 61% of marketers are concerned about the death of third-party cookies, and 94% of UK marketers are looking to collaborate with a partner for 1st party data. Now, retailer loyalty schemes are clearly not new. Retailers have been sitting on mountains of data for years (The Boots Advantage card has been around since 1997!) but it’s the recent advancement in tech that has unlocked it and made it valuable. 

Retailers have found new ways to maximise the use of loyalty cards (for example, by offering loyalty card customers exclusive and cheaper prices) and 80% of British shoppers are members of at least one loyalty/rewards scheme.

5️⃣ The non-linear path to purchase

Shopping behaviours underwent significant changes by the 2010s, with increasing online decision-making impacting in-store purchasing patterns. Today’s path to purchase is no longer linear and is incredibly messy, some call this the collapse of the funnel. 

Retail media has emerged as a key driver of awareness and discovery, leveraging 1PD to engage potential customers across various touchpoints in the consumer journey.

6️⃣ Creative Innovation

Next, creativity is being put back at the heart of Retail Media. 50% of a campaign's ROI can be directly attributed to the creative, so getting this right is crucial. 

What was once seen as a very transactional, rational form of marketing (i.e., pack shots and price) has become a way to genuinely build a connection with consumers by also delivering inspiration and education.

7️⃣ Measurement & Analytics

The speed of this transformation has been accelerated by the fact that this type of advertising is inherently measurable. It is now possible to measure the effects of retail media down to a 1-2-1 level, again by using loyalty card data. This type of closed-loop measurement is the holy grail for advertisers who have always wanted to understand the direct link between the campaigns they run and their impact on sales. 

At SMG, our proprietary tool Plan-Apps houses over 14,000 retail media campaign evaluation studies, made up of £245M worth of retail media spend, enabling us to identify what is and isn’t working and make retail media campaigns more effective.


Metrics used in campaigns vary depending on the marketing funnel stage. 

Matt Atlay commented: "For driving consideration, we focus on impressions, click-through rates, and analyse conversions using Boots Advantage card data to track purchases. While return on investment (ROI) is important, there are usually dual objectives for campaigns. In addition to short-term metrics like return on ad spend (ROAS), we prioritise long-term consumer outcomes, such as acquiring new customers, increasing repeat purchases, and growing basket size. It's crucial not to overlook broader consumer objectives and to avoid being overly fixated on meeting every single metric for each campaign."

8️⃣ Collaboration & Relationships

Successful retail media campaigns require strong collaboration between brands and retailers, driven by a shared goal of customer-centric marketing. 

Reflecting on the evolution of the brand-retailer relationship over the past decade, Rosie Houston shared: "...there has been a significant shift. In the past, retail media was often viewed as a mandatory cost, a "pay-to-play" arrangement. However, retailers and brands now share a common goal of serving the customer, which has reshaped this relationship. Different retailers in the UK retail landscape may have varying approaches, but their objectives are aligned towards customer-centric outcomes." 

Ollie Shayer emphasised the critical nature of this relationship shift: "Collaboration between brands and retailers is essential as they both strive to meet customer needs. By combining the strengths of reputable brands with retailers possessing strong consumer trust, significant benefits can be realised." 

Victoria Keenan added: "Ultimately, the consumer guides our decisions at Bayer, highlighting the pivotal role of retail media in enhancing customer engagement and brand performance."

9️⃣ Full-Funnel Strategy

Retail media campaigns should be approached holistically, aligning with customer objectives throughout the marketing funnel, from awareness to conversion. 

Ollie shared, "Omnichannel integration is crucial in today's retail landscape. Shoppers seamlessly transition between in-store and online experiences, and it's essential to comprehend how exposure to online ads influences their behaviour offline, and vice versa. Our efforts have been dedicated to unravelling this connection. Despite the growth of online shopping, the majority of retail transactions in the UK still occur in physical stores, emphasising the importance of understanding the interplay between online and offline interactions. Recently, our focus has shifted towards digitising the physical store to enhance this interconnected customer experience."

🔟 Future Trends

In discussing future trends, all panelists agreed there's a growing emphasis on increased data sharing, the use of data clean rooms, and AI. However, alongside this trend, there's also a heightened focus on data privacy and the importance of obtaining consent from customers. 

Ollie highlighted: “…using artificial intelligence (AI) in retail media is a current and future trend, acknowledging the vast amount of available data and the associated complexity.”

He cautioned against “solely relying on AI and losing sight of customer-centricity.” 

Victoria added: "Only 38% of consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are currently utilising clean rooms. AI is becoming ubiquitous and can aid in optimising targeting strategies and creative outputs for better results." 

Rosie cautioned: "For brands, as retail media networks (RMNs) proliferate, it's crucial to choose the right partners to collaborate with effectively." 

Rosie also warned against following trends blindly and emphasised the importance of understanding your audience when navigating this evolving landscape. 

She added: "For retailers, it's about bringing the whole business on the journey, backing from the total business really does drive a successful RMN as internal structures may need to be reviewed to ensure channels don't live in silo."

Thank you to our speakers who highlighted the transformative impact of retail media on modern advertising, emphasising the importance of data-driven, customer-centric plans.

A second thank you to everybody that joined us. 

We’ll see you at the next one.


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