E-commerce media, a rich, fragmented, yet powerful ecosystem

Since the health crisis, the acceleration of e-commerce growth is an established fact in all regions of the world, with Europe and France experiencing very significant developments.

And as proof, the sales volume generated in e-commerce is today approaching 130 billion euros, against just over 90 billion in 2018, an increase of 40% in 4 years. In-store advertising remains a historic media lever for retailers and brands. In the digital media universe, its counterpart, called retail media, e-retail media, or more generally, e-commerce media, is experiencing the same explosion.

To give a simple definition, e-commerce media is the monetization of advertising inventory and merchant website data. These commercial sites, which are becoming true media players, now represent a target of choice for the advertising ecosystem – advertisers, agencies, networks and publishers. There are several reasons for this: the growing audience of e-commerce sites, firstly, then the knowledge of their customers, and finally innovation, the French market being particularly dynamic, with abundant offers, technologies and media activations.

The e-commerce media strike force

E-commerce media represents the third wave of digital advertising growth, after search and social media in the 2000s and 2010s. This third wave is fueled by several factors.

The continued growth of e-commerce in France and around the world. eMarketer predicts that the share of e-commerce in commerce could reach 17% in Western Europe by 2026 (ie $858 billion), 21% in the US and 52% in China!

The obvious attraction of knowledge and proximity to the act of purchase, allowing physical and e-commerce merchants to monetize their audiences, their advertising placements and their transactional data. It also allows brands to improve their understanding of their targets’ buying journeys and increase their sales by targeting existing customers throughout the buying process. While e-commerce media is primarily developing in low-funnel approaches, with conversion and profitability management, more advanced brands are increasingly integrating data commerce into their overall marketing thinking.

The plethora of e-commerce media forms. From the display and search on commercial sites, to the extension of the audience, via promotional operations, the historical possibilities are countless. However, e-commerce media also integrate new forms of commerce, such as live shopping, social to commerce, paper catalog scanning, augmented or purchasable virtual reality.

E-commerce media is an omnichannel vector and is not just limited to commercial websites. Signs and brands with physical and digital points of sale have realized this and are promoting this omnichannel dimension in their advertising offers. Commercial experiences are then enriched and interconnect traditional media. In the US, the first tests allow, for example, to buy products via Amazon while watching a series in SVOD on Prime Video. More and more media touchpoints are becoming buyable.

E-commerce media, a safe haven in a turbulent time

If media e-commerce is progressing, arousing desire and raising questions, it is also because of the intrinsic promises that define it. It is a relevant lever for brands, allowing them to reach their targets as close as possible to conversion, with very attractive precision and knowledge in terms of segmentation. The monitored profitability of the media is the very essence of e-commerce media: because we have data on sales made, each campaign can be evaluated thanks to profitability KPIs, the volume of transactions achieved, as well as the established level of profitability. There remains, however, the issue of transparency and sharing of your sales data, which very much depends on the goodwill of the merchant.

The sustainability of e-commerce media seems assured as it is not a new discipline. It represents a paradigm shift in the way we build our media strategies, our consumer relationships and our communication experiences. However, for growth and attractiveness to be maintained, it is necessary:

  • continue the professionalization and standardization of the eRetail media segment (data and contact points available, measurement transparency, unification of routes);
  • ensure that the advertising experiences offered do not harm brands and their relationship with consumers;
  • develop technologies that tend to more transparency and control to justify economic profitability;
  • promote the plurality of actors to monitor consumer behavior, ensure the diversity of offers and inject innovation.

The e-commerce medium is in perpetual evolution and the developments of Web3 must also open up new perspectives, the contours of which are barely being drawn today.

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