By: Brian Monahan, Global Client President and Head of Retail Media Solutions

For two decades, I've witnessed the transformation of the prestigious Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity from a festival focused almost entirely on celebrating creativity in advertising into a dynamic showcase of the media and marketing industry. It's a unique vantage point that offers insights into the shifting sands of brand representation and thought leadership across a broad and growing industry.

The true value of the Cannes Lions lies not just in the awards but in observing the trends reflected by those who invest in beach houses, activations, panels, and, of course, rosé fueled parties. It's a barometer for industry shifts, signaling changes in the way companies vie for attention in an increasingly crowded space.

In my early years attending Cannes, it was the agencies arriving at this celebrated Creative scene. Then the media companies arrived followed by the CMOs and this marked a new era, bringing with them prominent media players like USA TODAY, NBC, and Viacom. These were the first waves of change, a sign that the festival was evolving beyond its traditional boundaries.

The subsequent waves brought internet portals like Yahoo, AOL, and MSN, followed by social giants Facebook, Snap, and Twitter. Each wave represented a new chapter in media, culminating in the latest trend: retail media networks. Strolling along the Croisette has made one thing clear: Retail Media has entered the conversation as an important driver for both brands and media companies.

Despite these changes, there is a notable divide between what is celebrated in the Palais and what is being discussed in the Croisette. Inside the Palais, there is no dedicated retail media category or award, leaving a gap in recognition. Brands are left to chart a course through this dense, clamorous market, while simultaneously retailers vie for prominence in an intensely competitive arena.

Cutting through the noise

Retail Media is currently in the spotlight. Past waves at Cannes have shown there will be victors and those who fall behind. Success will favor those who simplify the journey for marketers. Category winners will also provide true business value and not simply rely on FOMO to grow their business. It will belong to entities that understand and honor the unique proposition of retail media, where the objectives of both the consumer and the seller converge.

To thrive in this space requires partnership with experts that can cut through the noise foster the retailer-brand relationship and craft RMN strategies advantageous for all parties. Retail Media is the only media channel where the ultimate objective of the buyer and seller are the same.  When we collaborate, everyone triumphs.