Table Stakes Tech for Successful RMNs


Retail media networks (RMNs) are now considered the third wave of digital marketing. To have a successful retail media network, there are several technologies that are essential, or “table stakes.” These technologies help retailers manage their media operations and deliver targeted, effective advertising to customers.

Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Instacart may be the biggest and most well-known, but they’re far from the only players in the space. More retailers—from pharmacies to travel companies—are launching their own RMNs.

If you want to build your own RMN, what types of tech will you need to get started and stay competitive?

Basic Tech for RMNs

The basic technologies you’ll need to get an RMN started are likely ones you already have in place. But if you don’t, you’ll have to hire and build all the components. You don’t want to build a fragmented tech stack. The disconnect found between platforms can cause data loss—something to avoid at all costs. Here’s the basic tech you need to get started.

  • A customer data management platform to collect and manage customer data, including online and offline interactions, social media, and email marketing.
  • Access to a DSP and ad server to manage the buying, placement and delivery of digital advertising and to track performance.
  • A data management platform to help segment customer data and create targeted audiences for advertising.
  • A content management system to manage the creation, distribution, and optimization of digital content, such as landing pages and product pages.
  • An analytics platform to track and measure the performance of digital campaigns and provide insights into customer behavior and preferences.

Of course, the above list vastly oversimplifies the complexities of creating, utilizing, and maintaining a retail media network. 

A successful retail media network can’t run on technology alone. You also need to understand consumer behavior and preferences. Using data and analytics can help you deliver personalized, relevant advertising messages.

Table Stakes Tech

To successfully build a retail media network that can go toe-to-toe with competitors, there are some non-negotiables you need.

Sales Match Back Capabilities 

It is essential to have tech in place that can use your first-party data to identify the original source of a sale. Match back reporting provides insights into conversions that you can then apply to future campaigns.

Incremental Lift Measurement 

How much impact are your advertising campaigns having on your overall sales? Being able to accurately measure incremental lift is crucial for a successful RMN.

Reporting Dashboards

Clean, easy-to-read reporting dashboards have become the norm. The tech solution you choose for your reporting needs should be scalable, with robust data visualizations and custom data views. It should also be able to bring data from multiple channels into one dashboard. Robust reporting metrics and easy-to-digest dashboards will help prove your value to brand partners.

Media Delivery Execution 

You’ll need to build and deliver onsite and offsite ads in a way that supports the entire customer journey.

Tech Obstacles to Consider

First-Party Data 

You’ll have a hard time building an RMN without a solid bank of first-party data. You’ll need the right tech to measure and evaluate that data to track performance, iterate on what worked and optimize campaigns over time.

Ability to Measure KPIs  

Return on ad spend (ROAS), multi-touch attribution, and incrementality are all important data points to be able to measure.

Your Talent

This piece is often overlooked when it comes to creating an RMN but having a team with the knowledge and skill to support your business goals is critical.

Your Reporting Capabilities

To compete with other retail media networks, you’ll need near real-time reporting and dashboards. Advertisers will look at these to determine your RMNs return on investment (ROI) and to optimize their ad performance.

Growth-Mode Tech

We’ve covered the basics, but what will help you level up? To remain competitive in the quickly growing RMN landscape, you can’t stay in the table stakes zone forever. When it comes to growth mode for an RMN, measuring data and reporting will put you ahead.

Advanced ROI Modeling

Robust attribution capabilities that are able to measure the cross-channel impact of campaigns are critical to decision-making and forecasting processes. Being able to visualize and predict the ROI for any given campaign will set your marketing efforts up for long-term success.

Audience Analytics

With strong audience analytics, you can deep-dive into your first-party data and use those insights to make changes to current campaigns and influence future ones. A strong identity solution that protects consumer privacy and your brand is also essential.

Cross Channel Activation and Attribution

You’ll need a solid approach for onboarding multiple channels (video, social, audio, etc.) to have a more robust offering. You’ll also have a better large-picture view of how each customer touchpoint impacts sales and how the unique mix of channels works together throughout the customer lifecycle.


Less manual work means less room for human errors and more time to focus on analyzing the data. 

It’s critical for retailers to invest in tech if they want to scale a high-growth margin retail media business. 

Building an ad tech and engineering group in-house is expensive and challenging. Many retailers are choosing not to build their own RMNs in-house. Instead, they’re partnering with an experienced agency.

An agency partner with experience in the ad tech that you need to build an RMN will give you access to all the above. They’ll also streamline processes and help you avoid hiring and training an ad tech team from scratch. When Dollar General was looking for an agency partner to help build their retail media network, DGMN, they turned to Goodway Group

Goodway Group is experienced in building and navigating retail media networks. We have preferred access and unmatched expertise in building RMNs. Reach out today to discuss how we can help.