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As retail media booms, streaming players are riding the wave

Cursor hovers over a video play button with a long receipt curling upwards in a wave.

Illustration by Sarah Kim / Getty / The Current

Netflix is following in the footsteps of other streamers and saying “Bonjour” to a retail media collaboration.

The company is testing a partnership with French retailer Carrefour that includes some Netflix ad subscribers getting 10 percent off Carrefour products. Richard Greenfield, an analyst with LightShed Partners, wrote that Netflix is “clearly looking to use their cheaper ad tier to drive subscribers in markets that are not near full penetration.”

That recent announcement follows similar partnerships between streaming players and retailers, including between Peacock and Instacart, Paramount+ and Walmart, and Kroger and Disney. The latter sees Kroger Precision Marketing teaming up with Disney Advertising to share first-party shopper data, and that may be the real crux of these deals.

It seems that connected TV (CTV) might be riding a retail media wave. CTV and retail media are both fast-growing channels for advertisers, but some industry watchers see the latter surging exponentially in the coming years. Last June, GroupM projected global retail media revenue to exceed all TV ad revenue by 2028. Independent analyst Andrew Lipsman predicts retail media ad spend in the U.S. by 2027.

Some experts say the two channels could continue to converge, reinforcing that retail media, as it experiences rapid growth, can be seen as just media, and doesn’t have to be pigeonholed to retailer networks.

“In general, you’ll continue to see more partnerships with retail media networks and streaming providers, especially as there is more of a focus these days from the premium streaming [space] to get more audiences on the ad-supported tiers,” James Vainisi, an account supervisor at performance marketing company Eicoff, tells The Current.

Insider Intelligence analyst Sara Lebow goes a step further: “It will become increasingly hard to delineate between CTV ad spend and retail media ad spend, as retail media moves increasingly off-site,” she says.

Insider Intelligence projected last June that retail media CTV ad spend in the U.S. will grow sevenfold by the end of 2027 to more than $5 billion.

Shoppable ads — which typically include a QR code — have already highlighted the potential benefits to both retailers and CTV players; at the Consumer Electronics Showcase this year, Disney announced new shoppable formats for Hulu and, eventually, Disney+ that will display additional product information on the screen. But the partnerships can draw a more direct line between CTV and retail to ensure both parties reap the rewards.

For CTV players, retail partnerships can allow them to leverage first-party purchase data “to not only scale performance within a defined set of purchasers or audience groups, but to also use that data to expand the audience,” Vainisi says. For retailers, the targeting capabilities of CTV provides them a potential venue to reach consumers “beyond social and display campaigns.”

The omnichannel approach reflects the flywheel of the elephant in the room: Amazon.

The retail giant has made gains in blending retail and CTV recently, notably with a Black Friday NFL game in November that streamed exclusively on Prime Video. The company secured the rights to Thursday Night Football a couple years ago, and this past year, took its football ambitions a step further with the day-after-Thanksgiving game. It went hard on the retail crossover opportunities during one of the biggest — and historically in-store — shopping days in the U.S., with shoppable ads and exclusive deals throughout the game.

Now Amazon is building an advertising business on Prime Video. Last week, Amazon launched ads on the streaming platform, with subscribers having to upgrade to a pricier plan if they didn’t want ads.

The pressure is on for other CTV and retail players to continue to evolve their relationship. This could open more doors for third-party ad tech players to distinguish themselves and help create more opportunities for advertisers and retail media networks beyond Amazon’s walls.

“Shopper data is the future of connected TV advertising,” Lebow says. “We’ll see a lot more combinations.”