Carrefour Group — which was one of the first retailers in Europe to launch a retail media network — has created a joint venture with Publicis Groupe, with the goal of bringing the retail media market in Europe and Latin America to the same levels of scale and connectivity as in the U.S.
Carrefour will hold 51% of the joint venture, with 49% held by Publicis Groupe, and it is expected to start operations in the first half of 2023.
“Retail media is revolutionizing established hierarchies and opening up new opportunities for marketers,” said Arthur Sadoun, Chairman of the Management Board of Publicis Groupe in a statement. “Until now, the fragmentation of the market in Europe and Latin America has made it difficult for brands to fully unlock its potential. By joining forces with Carrefour, a clear leader in this domain across Europe and Latin America, we will be able to provide clients with unparalleled customer understanding and direct access to premium inventories, the ones that generate the highest conversion rates and return on ad spend for advertisers. This is a critical milestone to help marketers take back control of their customer relationships, accelerate their readiness for a cookie-less world and deliver a successful media strategy.”
Carrefour launched its retail media network, Carrefour Links, in June 2021 following several years and €2.8 billion worth of investments toward digitally transforming itself into a data-focused business. This included the creation of “the largest data lake in Europe” and the migration of 25% of its business to the cloud, all of which laid the foundation for its retail media offering. A little over a year after launching, Carrefour Links now serves more than 300 brand partners.
The new joint venture with Publicis aims to rally together other retailers to build a network of advertising inventory and accelerate the development of retail media in both regions. The ultimate goal is “for any company with direct customer touch points and first-party data to join the platform in order to monetize their assets and partner with advertisers to build more efficient marketing strategies and boost their business,” according to the announcement.
Carrefour Links’ retail media knowledge and expertise will be combined with Publicis’ technologies — namely its CitrusAd Powered by Epsilon offering — to build a comprehensive media player that addresses the entire retail media value chain. After acquiring both Epsilon and CitrusAd, Publicis introduced the combined offering in June 2022, creating a unified on-site and off-site retail media platform that offers identity resolution with no dependency on third-party cookies. Epsilon and Citrus currently equip more than 150 retailers across the world and hold leading positions in both the U.S. and UK.
Plans for the platform that will be created through the joint venture include spanning everything from technology for inventory creation and data sharing; the full commercialization of media; and data solutions for advertisers backed by merchant transactions across Continental Europe, Brazil and Argentina.
“We understood very early on that our data had tremendous value potential,” said Alexandre Bompard, Chairman and CEO of Carrefour Group in a statement. “Today we want to go further and beyond the limits of our current model. We are going to create an alliance with an industry expert, the Publicis Groupe, to change three things: first, we will put tech at the heart of our model; second, we will go up in the value chain by creating retail media solutions by ourselves; and third, we will conquer new markets both in continental Europe and in Brazil. With this alliance, our digital transformation takes on a new dimension and allows us to access a new market with tremendous growth.”