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Insight

Media Networks Break Free from Retail

Companies in other industries are jumping on board.

Media networks (MNs) are taking the advertising world by storm. They’re a win- win. The company that operates the media network turns its first-party customer data and digital properties into a revenue source. In turn, advertisers engage their customers through a new channel, identify lookalike customers and receive deterministic measurements of campaign key performance indicators (KPIs) in near real-time for in-flight optimizations.

Though MNs have made a splash with retailers—the short list of retail media networks that have been successful includes Amazon Advertise, Target Roundel and Walmart Connect—they aren’t the only businesses that can benefit from them. How have other industries tapped into the power of MNs?

Media networks offer value for businesses

At its core, a MN is all about connections—connecting businesses to advertisers, advertisers to customer data and customers to the products and services they want. Any business with an end consumer, customer, patient or guest can build its own MN.

MNs are the future. By 2028, they will be responsible for over 15 percent of ad revenue, commanding a larger share than television. The media market is expected to blossom to $231 billion in 2030.

The media network market is expected to blossom to $231 billion in 2030.

donut and beverage

Convenience stores and quick-service restaurants

Wawa is a convenience store chain with more than 1,000 locations on the U.S. East Coast. Customers who join the rewards program consent to having their privacy-protected purchasing data collected in exchange for discounts on food and fuel purchases.

In 2024, Wawa worked with Publicis Groupe’s Publicis Sapient, Epsilon and CitrusAd to launch Goose Media Network. Vendors and brands pay a fee to Wawa to deliver personalized offers, marketing promotions and other relevant content on the website, mobile app and video screens at gas pumps. For example, an energy drink supplier looking to reactivate lapsed customers can set up a campaign that targets previous buyers who have not purchased the brand for a specified period, such as one month. The ad buyer receives immediate feedback on impressions and customer response to measure KPIs like incrementality.

hotel

Hospitality

A leading global hotel chain operates a media network that advertisers use to reach loyalty program members based on their expressed interests and historical behavior. Top advertisers include tour providers, theme parks and attractions like golf courses. Ads appear on the hotel chain’s website, app and in marketing messages sent to guests. The ads might later expand to in-room TVs and digital screens in lobbies. Part of the appeal of the hotel’s media network to other companies’ marketing teams is that they can monitor ad performance in near real-time to fine-tune campaigns in flight.

fuel pump

Fuel retailers

As electric vehicle ownership takes a bite out of fuel sales, fuel retailers are filling part of the gap by selling ads on their media networks. Advertisers, such as car tune-up chains and brands that sell in convenience stores, can engage loyalty club members on the loyalty app and website and at pumps. Recognizing a customer who frequently buys protein drinks by their loyalty member number or payment card means the network can display an ad while the customer is at the pump, encouraging an impulse buy.

car

Automotive

Car manufacturers that build media networks sell ads to endemic companies, such as auto groups and accessories manufacturers, as well as non-endemic companies, such as insurers and financing companies. With access to data that website visitors provide with consent, advertisers can engage customers who expect to buy a car in the next three months, for example, or are looking for financing.

Media network operators can earn more income by charging for first-party insights. For example, data showing that customers who search for a particular make and model of truck also tend to search for certain other makes and models. As autonomous driving matures, making it safer for drivers to look at the infotainment display, car manufacturers will likely extend their media networks to include in-car advertising.

box within concentric half-circles

Logistics

Picture a shipping company that wants to increase efficiency by encouraging customers to drop off packages at a drugstore chain location instead of requesting home pickup. To reach customers receptive to the message, the shipping company can target ads on the drugstore chain’s media network to shared customers. The partnership benefits the shipper by reducing truck rolls and fuel costs, while the drugstore chain benefits from increased foot traffic and incremental sales.

play button

Entertainment

Streaming companies are well-placed to build media networks because of their treasure trove of customer data. A leading streaming device maker, for example, collects first-party TV streaming data from more than 75 million accounts. After running an ad campaign on the streaming device company’s media network, a pizza brand matched exposure data with sales data and determined that the campaign had driven a nearly 10 percent sales lift across all households, closer to 50 percent among lapsed buyers.

Streaming companies also stand to gain from advertising on other companies’ media networks—for example, displaying a movie discount code to subscribers when they’re recognized at a grocery store checkout terminal.

car with waiting passengers

Transportation

At least one ride-hailing provider sells advertising on its website and app, mobile receipts sent to passengers and in-vehicle displays—the latest form of digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising. Advertisers can use the provider’s media network to target passengers based on the personal information they provided with consent when creating an account, as well as their location and the time of day. A restaurant might advertise its happy hour on weekdays, for example, while a concert venue targets people who match the fan profile for the current performer.

Harness the power of media network advertising with Publicis Sapient

As a digital transformation partner, Publicis Sapient helps organizations across industries realize new value. Drawing upon technical capabilities, industry expertise and media partnerships within the Publicis Groupe, Publicis Sapient assists businesses in architecting and standing up media networks.

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