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CTV and Retail Media Networks Forge Powerful Partnerships

These two titan channels are joining forces to close the loop for digital advertisers.

woman lying down eating and watching yellow TV

We've talked a lot about the major investment shifts we're seeing in digital advertising toward retail media networks (RMNs) and programmatically bought connected TV (CTV).

But, for the most part, we've considered these separate trends – two pieces of the larger media puzzle. Now it's become increasingly clear that retail media and CTV are more closely intertwined than we initially thought, presenting powerful, new opportunities for media planners.

Media titans like Disney and NBCUniversal are at the forefront of this convergence, strategically partnering with retail giants like Walmart and Instacart, respectively. Why are these partnerships becoming more common, and what do they offer brand advertisers? Let's look deeper.

Why are retail media networks and CTV platforms joining?

A few reasons include:

CTV has the reach, Retail has purchase data

CTV ad spend doubled from $9 billion in 2020 to $18.89 billion in 2022, and with the recent launch of new ad-supported streaming tiers at Netflix and Amazon, ad spend is forecasted to double again by 2026! It's by far the fastest-growing digital advertising channel.

And no wonder: eMarketer forecasts that over 80% of people aged 25-54 will be CTV viewers by the end of 2024. That's a reach that's hard to beat.

While streamers know what millions of people are watching, retailers know what those same people are buying. Together, these data pieces are pure gold for advertisers.

So far, these data pieces have been largely fragmented and difficult to piece together into a clear picture of whom to serve which ads where. By partnering up, streamers can combine their massive reach with retail media's first-party purchase data to provide us media planners with a simple and measurable product that makes our campaigns run smoothly and effectively.

Shoppable CTV is a Win-Win for CPG Brands

A prime example is NBCUniversal's recent partnership with Instacart. This innovative collaboration aims to transform television into a targeted channel for shoppers. Here's the exciting part for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brands: the ability to reach their target audience with laser precision across various popular streaming platforms. This extends beyond NBC's traditional channels, encompassing Max, Pluto, and Tubi, effectively reaching a wider audience segment.

family watching TV on couch

Our team is already actively testing Instacart's purchase-based audiences for CPG clients. This allows brands to target not just viewers, but category buyers actively engaged with streaming platforms. Imagine the ability to showcase your new cereal brand to viewers who regularly purchase breakfast items through Instacart – a recipe for marketing success.

Instacart also announced a new partnership with YouTube at the 2024 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for similar reasons. YouTube has successfully proven itself as a CTV platform that's effective for food, beverage, and other CPG brands.

cartoon illustration of chef cooking

Enhanced Targeting and Measurement

Disney Advertising's partnership with Walmart Connect takes this convergence a step further. Their collaboration focuses on enhancing audience targeting and closed-loop measurement capabilities for campaigns. This translates to highly targeted CTV ad placement across Disney+ and Hulu's vast inventory, ensuring brands reach the right audience and effectively measure the impact of their campaigns.

This strategic move by Walmart aligns with their earlier $2.3 billion acquisition of Vizio, a leading CTV network, and partnership with Roku Ads. These initiatives clearly highlight Walmart's commitment to capitalizing on the burgeoning CTV market and competing with its biggest rival, Amazon, which has both a retail media network and a streaming platform in-house.

How can brand marketers benefit from CTV and retail media partnerships?

The best way to go about advertising on these platforms is to think about their capabilities in relation to the brand's goals and audience insights. Just running ads on Amazon or another e-commerce platform is nice, but it's ultimately a waste of money if you don't take full advantage of the synergy between e-com and CTV and build a full, omnichannel media plan.

Again, these platforms are still largely disparate and fragmented, so a good media agency is crucial to help brand marketers sort through all the options and choose the most effective channels at the lowest possible cost.

Despite the repeated false alarms, Google will eventually do away with third-party cookies, and in the absence of that consumer data, brands will absolutely need to access the first-party data provided by retailers and streamers in privacy-compliant ways in order to survive.

How do you measure the success of omnichannel media campaigns?

As WARC explains it, "Data collaboration allows brand advertisers to measure the impact of their campaigns not only on sales but also at every stage of their consumer funnel, e.g. determine whether a conversion is a new customer or an existing customer."

The exact KPIs you should use depends upon your campaign goals -- some of the most popular include click-through rates, website visits, and interactive ad engagements.

But it's also important to look at the larger picture with brand lift studies, multitouch attribution, and marketing mix modeling. Focusing too closely on short-term performance metrics will cost your brand in the long run.

hands on keyboards

By combining the power of targeted CTV advertising with the deep audience insights offered by retail media platforms, brands can reach the right consumers at the right time, ultimately influencing purchase decisions at every point in the customer journey.


This piece originally appeared in our weekly Paid Media Insights newsletter. For more tips, research, and analysis; subscribe for free here.


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