- It’s going to be a competitive year for retail media.
- Branded entertainment is seeing a resurgence.
- Our top stories of 2023
Shakeout for retail media
Retail brands have seen success in recent years selling ad space on their websites and within their apps – leveraging their relationships with consumer brands to stake a claim on a portion of their ad budgets. The pandemic helped: a boom in e-commerce created the perfect conditions for retail media to thrive. In essence, some retailers turned into quasi-media companies.
But as the landscape matures and evolves, some retail media will fare better than others. A Bain&Company survey of ad decision makers found that 50% of U.S. advertisers plan to consolidate ad spend with a few select retail media networks. The boom of retail media may now stabilize in the coming year. As a Bain analysis points out, ad inventory is also growing quickly, aided by a number of new ad opportunities driven by new types of entities, including brand publishers. And there is also maturation on the way: Retail media is now worth morethan $90 billion in sales. It’s no longer an experimental channel – and with maturation comes new expectations, including a push for more performance-oriented metrics.
As we’ve noted earlier with more brands trying to sell ad space within their content operations, this also means companies who aren’t yet used to selling ad inventory will need to continue to grow that muscle. As Bain writes: “Selling advertising solutions is inherently different from running a retail business, requiring a new go-to-market playbook in areas such as advertiser segmentation, account prioritization, partnership model, sales cadence, marketing, and pricing.”
Publishers team up with OpenAI: Will brands be next?
Axel Springer has signed a deal with OpenAI that will allow users of ChatGPT to receive summaries of news from Axel Springer-owned publications. The deal will “help provide people with new ways to access quality, real-time news content through our AI tools,” according to a statement from OpenAI.
When generative AI first burst on the scene, the concern from publishers and brand publishers alike was how they could best protect their content from being scraped by AI and served to users without links, attribution or credit. Now, many journalism organizations, such as Axel and the Associated Press, are inking deals that will allow them to at least get compensated for these programs being trained on their content.
Deals have thus far been struck with traditional news organizations, but as the content landscape evolves, brand publishers will continue to find their content efforts threatened by the advent of generative AI, particularly as it gets baked into search. Brands that are serious about creating quality content will need to consider what deals of their own may look like, and if they’ll need to figure out how to play in this new sandbox. Of course, the other option is to steer clear, and not enter into any relationships that may create a new dependence on platforms. After all, most remember how that turned out last time.
A new role at the Times
Meanwhile, news publishers are getting serious about trying to figure out how to fit generative AI into their workflow and processes. The New York Times hired Quartz co-founder Zach Seward last week to explore how these tools can help the company’s writers and reporters. Similar roles are being charted out at other publishers as well.
The return of branded entertainment
Branded entertainment has seen a resurgence lately as more companies partner with – or develop their own – studios to create big budget films, TV series and podcasts. Adam Milano of SuperBloomHouse runs down the history of branded entertainment and its future. Just in time for Mattel to announce that it will be making an American Girl doll movie.
Our top stories
It was a critical year for brands’ content initiatives. We took a look at the stories that resonated most with Toolkits readers in 2023
A practical guide to using Gen AI in marketing
Marketing is a field where the use of generative AI appears to be inevitable. HBR’s new guide outlines some of its use cases.
The Information goes all in on All-In, the media “empire” (their words) launched by four venture capitalists, which has, at least from our observations, resulted in quite a few other similar VC-as-publisher endeavors. Particularly worth noting from the piece: “The success of the podcast has helped paper over a less-than-dazzling run in the hosts’ day jobs, including flopped investments, increased regulatory scrutiny, dozens of shareholder lawsuits and humbling fundraising struggles.”
On the move
Emily Anne Epstein, the former head of editorial at Asana, joined Moonshot Strategies to run communications. The firm specializes in government affairs, strategy, grassroots organizing, and communications.
New frontiers in distribution
Brands will now be able to publish their content in Claire Atkinson’s Media Mix and Alex Kantrowitz’s Big Technology. Both Substacks have signed onto a deal that will let brands put their content in front of the people who subscribe to those newsletters.