The union of Publicis and Carrefour in the “retail media” – ie the monetization of advertising space on the merchant sites of major retailers as well as their customer data – is taking shape and is already going strong. Announced last November and named “Unlimitail”, the joint venture is entering its operational phase and has already convinced thirteen clients, including Kingfisher France (Castorama, Brico Dépôt), Rakuten France, the Galeries Lafayette group or Showroomprivé Group.
“These first signed contracts will allow us to ramp up very quickly. Unity is strength and the fact that there are so many players, representing twenty brands and six different sectors, allows us to immediately have a size effect with 120 million regular customers in total, counting all the groups that have joined. Which is crucial in this market, underlines Alexandre Bompard, CEO of Carrefour. Today, Amazon is the leader in ‘retail media’. But they are not strong on food and proprietary data [‘first-party data’] that we have will allow us to differentiate ourselves. »
In detail, Unlimitail’s customers will be able to use the advertising solutions offered by the joint venture to enhance their inventories in their ecosystems. They may also delegate sales to brands to the joint venture’s sales teams; on the contrary, Kingfisher launched, on Thursday, its own external management dedicated to “retail media”.
In addition, they will have the possibility of relying on the proprietary data of other participants, if the latter agree, for extension campaigns on third-party sites. A special operation will thus be set up with Rakuten France, which will rely on Carrefour’s “first-party data” for an upcoming campaign.
Strong European ambitions
Owned 51% by Carrefour and 49% by Publicis, the joint venture includes the ets of Carrefour Links – its own “retail media” offer that the retail group had launched two years ago. Unlimitail also integrates the advertising products and services of CitrusAd – an Australian start-up acquired in 2021 by Publicis – while Epsilon (Publicis’ data offer) will be responsible for the “data clean room” aspect, i.e. a neutral space allowing various companies to share data securely and anonymously .
With around a hundred employees, Unlimitail is present throughout continental Europe, Brazil and Argentina. “There will never be a European search engine on the scale of Google. But we can have a champion of ‘retail media’ where the dice have not yet been cast, argues Arthur Sadoun, chairman of the management board of Publicis Groupe. Unlimitail’s goal is to eventually become the pan-European leader in retail media. Excluding Amazon, retailers have an 85% market share in e-commerce and only 15% in retail media. But this is a situation that can change. »
As more and more groups set foot on this part of the growing and high-margin advertising market, will the joint venture manage to convince many more “retailers” to join them, while some groups are direct rivals in their core business? “Of course, there may be initial reluctance. There are also certain markets where some of our current partners are competitors of Carrefour or even other Unlimitail customers, such as, for example, in textiles, and this has not posed a problem for them, answers Alexandre Bompard . We are always more wary of our close neighbor than of a distant tech giant, but we have common interests. »
For the time being, Unlimitail has not set any financial objectives. At the end of 2021, Carrefour announced that its own “retail media” activities were going to generate at least 200 million in operating income more by 2026. “We will do everything to exceed this objective,” notes Alexandre Bompard.