By Victoria Cromie

In recent years, we’ve seen a surge in retail media ad spending in Canada, with the latest projections suggesting that budgets will exceed the CAD$3 billion mark in 2024 according to IAB Canada. With these budgets nearly doubling in just three years, we believe the time is right for an exploration of opportunities amidst the evolving challenges in the Canadian retail media landscape.

A Unified Theory of Measurement

The first of these opportunities is the journey toward a unified theory of measuring retail media. To fully capitalize on the increased spending in the industry, standardizing metrics across retail media platforms becomes imperative. The industry must adopt a unified lens for measuring effectiveness, ensuring clients receive comprehensive insights, irrespective of the platform. While acknowledging the challenges of navigating a still-emerging media landscape, stakeholders believe ongoing collaboration between retailers and clients will lead to significant progress in standardization and metrics in the year to come.

Across the border, we saw the IAB propose retail media standards last September to ensure that the pace of spending growth is paired with a more coherent approach to measurement, retailer control, and timeliness in reporting data and analytics. We believe a similar refrain is coming to Canada, with key retailers aiming for consistent metrics — attribution, viewability, and benchmarks familiar with standard digital campaign media.

In the interim, measurement partners and AI tools continue to emerge in Canada to allow marketers to better understand campaign effectiveness. This will allow marketers to bridge the gap with the insights we need in the short term to move the needle. The true power of retail media lies in its ability to influence real-time purchasing decisions at any point in the shopping journey. In the long run, standardization in the industry will make it easier for marketers to reach that goal — to deploy campaigns based on business needs, to shorten lead times for executing retail media, and to activate more consistent creative across retail platforms.

How Retailer Data Can Fill the Gap

The second major area of opportunity involves retailer data and its contribution to end-to-end marketing campaigns. In an era where third-party data is on the decline, retailers hold a key with the frequency and recency of their first-party data. The trust placed in this data enables precise targeting, avoiding the pitfalls of generalized data and ensuring marketers reach the right audience with the right message. The retailer’s task this year will be to focus on how marketers can easily digest all the data that has been mined and activate it with their consumers across the shopping journey.

With their rich first-party data sources, retailers can attribute consumers to potential sales opportunities, optimize search criteria, and retarget effectively. It’s not just about showcasing products; it’s about guiding the consumer journey and closing the sale, connecting media into physical stores, closing the loop for advertisers, and creating a more connected and immersive experience. The future will include being able to connect out-of-store to in-store, down to the aisle and checkout.

Opportunities for Innovation & Evolution

The last opportunity in the retail media industry is embracing the rapid pace of change in the space. New and diversified media offerings have rolled out in Canada from many key retailers this past year. Taken as a whole, the announcements indicate a more omnichannel approach to retail media offerings, with new features like in-store screens, DOOH, and in-store audio. We are now able to deploy full-funnel campaigns for clients in the retail media space. The emergence of self-serve platforms also presents a significant opportunity for marketers to take more direct control of their retail media campaigns. In total, the new media offerings that are coming online give marketers further insights into what moves the needle and new levers to drive brand growth.

As we collectively embrace this transformative journey, the power of retail media emerges as a pivotal force propelling Canadian retail businesses forward into the digital future. This is not just a story; it’s a testament to the resilience, innovation, and collaborative spirit defining the future of data-driven retail media in Canada.


Victoria Cromie is the Canada Managing Director, The Mars Agency. Victoria is a seasoned marketing and digital leader with two decades of experience working with global brands. She has a proven track record of building high-performing cross-functional teams that deliver exceptional ROI and exceed organizational goals, including helping drive growth in a down market and developing new strategic plans to attract new business and acquisitions. Using a shopper-centric approach, she is skilled in driving successful media strategies, optimizing online campaigns, and leveraging data-driven insights to maximize brand visibility and customer engagement. See more about her shopper-centric approach at

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