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The Onsite vs Offsite Retail Media Conundrum

The Onsite vs Offsite Retail Media Conundrum

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mediarithmics Team
September 22, 2023

The Onsite vs Offsite Retail Media Conundrum

Over the last few years, the digital world has blossomed into a living, breathing entity. 

The advertising opportunities that once only existed in-store (such as display screens, posters, pull-up banners and floor graphics) have now been digitalised

We’ve entered a new age.

Through today’s modern retail media infrastructure, anyone can reach audiences far and wide - benefiting from detailed reporting and accurate analytics. 

From pay-per-click social media promotions to strategically targeted sponsored ads on your own website, the potential for onsite and offsite advertising is unlimited. 

Onsite vs Offsite Retail Media

When building your own retail media proposition, there are a number of options that can help you drive revenue and value for your brands.

It can be daunting choosing between them all.

Your third-party brands won’t always have the budget (or time!) for both onsite and offsite retail media, requiring you to compare the two and ultimately identify the best. You’re spoilt for choice. 

What is Onsite Retail Media?

As the name suggests, onsite retail media refers to the advertising opportunities available on the platform owned by a retailer. This includes websites and applications.

By utilising promotions such as…

  • Sponsored Products: A featured product listing typically found at the top of a web page following a customer’s relevant search. Key players who offer this capability include Criteo or CitrusAd.
  • Display Adverts: An image, graphic, or GIF designed to catch a consumer’s eye as they browse and encourage click-throughs. Key players in this space include Criteo and Google’s Ad Manager.

In combination with an innovative data repository like a Customer Data Platform, which will enable you to build advanced audiences based on your first part data, you will be able to target groups of users via the aforementioned activation points. 

What is Offsite Retail Media?

In comparison, offsite retail media is about advertising outside of your scope and reaching new audiences. It involves buying space on platforms owned by other people and promoting through their channels.

To advertise successfully in these spaces, you can choose to…

  • Onboard a Demand Side Platform (such as DV360 or The Trade Desk) to bid for ideal advertising space automatically
  • Use the pre-built advertising dashboards on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, and Meta to create marketing campaigns
  • Work directly with a media owner (such as a publisher or broadcaster) to reserve prime advertising space that either you or your third-party brands can utilise

Similar to onsite activations, you can also leverage a CDP to leverage your 1st party data to build advanced audiences. These can be sold to your brand advertisers, and activated across the aforementioned endpoints with ease. 

The Differences Between Onsite and Offsite Retail Media

When it comes to choosing between the two, there are a few important considerations that must be factored into the equation. 

Although onsite retail media is often a default (due to the control you can maintain over your adverts), it’s not always the best option. Both can drive value, depending on your short and long-term goals.


Unsurprisingly, onsite retail media has a significantly higher margin (90%) than offsite retail media (40%). This is largely due to the lower costs associated with advertising on your own website and/or app. No one else is receiving a piece of the pie. However, this higher profit margin doesn’t necessarily mean that onsite retail media will bring in more sales overall. Either can be effective in converting customers, so neither should be discounted.


Despite the existing belief of the industry, onsite retail media isn’t perfect. It restricts potential according to website reach and advertising capacity, hindering a retailer’s growth efforts. When you don’t already have a high volume of traffic on your website, product promotions won’t massively impact your sales. Offsite retail media allows you to connect with audiences across the web and is infinitely more scalable. 


There’s no denying that onsite retail media provides adverts closest to the point of purchase, driving better performance than its counterpart. The practicality and user experience ramifications of onsite advertisements, though, can be brought into question. When you have a customer who is already close to purchasing from you, fewer resources will be needed to push them over the line. An email might suffice.


The majority of retailers will find that onsite retail media is an easy and effective advertising solution. As long as your platforms are set up properly, you’ll be able to promote the products you want at a time that’s convenient to you.

Offsite retail media, on the other hand, often requires a little more research. To create effective campaigns, you’ll need the input of Demand Side Platforms. A partnership with any service provider can be a relief for a growing retailer with little experience under their belt.


Both onsite and offsite retail media can be adjusted to meet your needs. As long as you have the right data infrastructure in place to target audiences effectively, you will see success. Digital tools like Customer Data Platforms can give you insight into positioning your adverts, allowing you to make informed and profitable decisions.

Onsite vs Offsite Retail Media: Which is the Solution for You?

Everywhere you look, there are advertising solutions that promise results. Which one is speaking to you?

Both onsite retail media and offsite retail media can bring about the value you want, especially when you use actionable and intelligent data to your advantage.

  • Step 1. Outline your long and short-term goals.
  • Step 2. Map out your resources.
  • Step 4. Onboard a Customer Data Platform.
  • Step 5. Choose onsite or offsite retail media — or a mixture of both. 
  • Step 6. Design and execute your campaign.

According to a recent report from 2023, inconsistent targeting and bad reporting are the top sources of retail media inefficiency.

 You don’t want to fall into that trap.

mediarithmics is the perfect platform for leveraging first, second, and third-party data to create accurate and profitable campaigns. Contact us today to find out more.

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