As I soaked in the incredible presentations at the Advertising Research Federation’s SHOPPER 2024 conference, I couldn’t help but reflect on how far we’ve come as an industry in just a few short years. Much of that evolution is a direct response to the marketing technology and data we have available at our fingertips.

Below are three trends from the conference showing how digital tech is enabling a better shopping experience that benefits brands, retailers and shoppers.

Digital research technology is revealing unprecedented insights to enhance a retail environment’s “shoppability.” With tools from in store traffic, eye, and biometric tracking to virtual reality simulations all readily available, today’s marketers have access to a wealth of research opportunities powered by the latest tech to gain a better understanding of shoppers and how they make purchase decisions. By understanding the sales impact of shelf assortment and product placement to product packaging and communications, brands and retailers can optimize their presence to ease the in-store experience and make their products and shelves more shoppable.

Retail media networks are continuing to revolutionize advertising. As retailers evolve and advance their tech stack and media offerings, brands are finding retail media a powerful tool to reach and convert shoppers. And self-service platforms are making it easier to deploy than ever. Expanding digital channels, strong purchase-based targeting and closed-loop measurement are all benefits making retail media a preferred avenue for advertisers. Shoppers are benefiting as well, as they are served more relevant and meaningful ads.

Real-time optimization opportunities are expanding beyond typical use cases. Data-led decision-making using integrated tech stacks and artificial intelligence is offering marketers the ability to better plan their campaigns and be more nimble to make real-time adjustments. While contributing to an ARF SHOPPER 2024 panel discussion, Arc Analytics Manager, Erin Mitten, shared how tools such as Arc’s own RMN Insights Engine, are aggregating digital commerce media campaigns, standardizing reporting and measurement, and offering immediate purview into performance across brand and retailer campaigns. Armed with these insights, media managers can quickly adjust how and where dollars are being spent. AI is further enabling marketers to provide truly personalized ads at scale with targeting and creative optimized in real-time.

Never has there been a more exciting time to work in shopper and commerce marketing. With exponential advancements in technology and further adoption of artificial intelligence in every facet of our lives, the shopping experiences we design to connect with shoppers seem only bound by the creativity we bring as marketers.


Brian Azzarello is Vice President, Commerce Experience at Arc Worldwide. He proudly sits on the American Adverting Federation’s Digital Committee and Path to Purchase Institute’s Retail Media Guild.

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