Microsoft Takes Aim at Google, Amazon with Plans to Build ‘Omnichannel Retail Media Platform’

Microsoft has unveiled a suite of new retail media solutions through PromoteIQ

Microsoft is gearing up to take a bigger piece of the growing retail media pie with the debut of a suite of new capabilities through its PromoteIQ marketing platform, which the company acquired in 2019. Among the new offerings are the debut of the Microsoft Retail Advertising Network, which will allow retailers to pull from a large pool of brand advertisers, and the piloting of an in-store retail media solution.

Retail media spend is projected to reach more than $61 billion in the U.S. alone by 2024, accounting for 20% of total digital ad spend, according to Insider Intelligence. As a growing number of retailers create media networks to capitalize on this shift — which is being driven in large part by the deprecation of third-party cookies — Microsoft’s new offerings aim to position the tech company as the engine of the retail media machine.     

Nearly 10,000 brands created more than 70,000 campaigns through the PromoteIQ platform in 2022, according to the company, and PromoteIQ already powers the retail media networks of some of the biggest names in the business including Kroger Precision Marketing, Sephora, Kohl’s and The Home Depot.

“As digital commerce evolves, the importance of retailers in the advertising ecosystem is skyrocketing, and we want to empower this,” said Kya Sainsbury-Carter, VP of Global Partner and Retail Media at Microsoft Advertising in a post announcing the new capabilities. “It is our vision to create the industry’s most complete omnichannel retail media stack to support retailer evolution through retail media. With today’s announcements, the Microsoft PromoteIQ platform will bring together the most complete and holistic suite of retail media products, targeting and measurement capabilities in the market to empower retailers and brands to meet their customers wherever they are, online or offline.”


The biggest news of the day involved the pilot release of the Microsoft Retail Advertising Network, which is designed to help retailers monetize more of their onsite web inventory and drive incremental shopper traffic by allowing them to easily draw from the thousands of brand advertisers in the broader Microsoft Advertising ecosystem. Brands using the Microsoft Advertising platform will be able to set up their ad campaigns to serve on Microsoft and partner properties as well as participating retailer websites through the Microsoft Retail Advertising Network, allowing brands to reach new audiences and giving retailers a boost in traffic.

In a separate but related announcement, Microsoft Advertising also announced an integration with ecommerce platform BigCommerce that will allow BigCommerce merchants to easily connect with and place Microsoft advertisers on their sites.

As part of its holistic retail media enhancements, Microsoft also announced two additional capabilities that will enable “offsite” (that is, serving ads beyond a retailers’ own website) and in-store retail media.

The new PromoteIQ Offsite offering will enable retailers to activate their first-party audience data, helping their brand partners reach shoppers using third-party inventory across the open web, on social media and via connected TV. The offering will launch in February 2023, initially with Microsoft and Meta audiences, and will include lookalike modeling capabilities.

Finally, Microsoft announced that PromoteIQ had completed the proof of concept for PromoteIQ In-Store, which will become available to retailers in the next 12 months. The company said it was currently working with partners to create an “interoperable platform” for the ecosystem, which will incorporate a range of physical displays and equipment, including digital signage.

“An omnichannel platform empowers retailers to meet their shoppers where they are with ever-changing multichannel behaviors and preferences while helping their brand partners reach people at all stages in the shopping journey — all while delivering measurable return on investment through a holistic platform experience,” explained Sainsbury-Carter in her post. “At Microsoft, we’re empowering retailer success by creating an economic engine for retailers while enabling them to own their data and customer relationships.”

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