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Product Review Post: Three products that Access Retail Media Budgets

Jan 23, 2024 by Mike Mallazzo, Contributing Editor, Martech Record

In an otherwise brutal year for digital media, commerce publishing operations are a major bright spot. But as commerce moves from an important, but not existential revenue stream to the lifeblood profit center for large media companies, the logical next question is around sustainability of growth. 

The rate limiting step is that commerce publishers and other affiliates are still far too dependent on low margin retailer relationships for the bulk of their revenue. Said simply, this industry won’t reach its growth potential so long as publishers are fundamentally disintermediated from where the real dollars are.  

To add further complexity to the equation, retailers now play more on the supply side of media than they do on the demand side…to the tune of $100B a year that flows through so called retail media. Saying nothing of Amazon’s media empire, Walmart Connect is a >10X larger advertising business than the New York Times.  

On the brand side, entities ranging from CPG conglomerates to high-growth indie Amazon sellers are longing to spend more directly with commerce publishers who offer efficient CAC and disproportionately more new to file customers. 

Thus, the most valuable marketing tech software businesses in this environment will be those that directly connect publishers with high gross margin, deep pocketed brands and lead a redistribution of spend from search, social and display into affiliate partnerships. 

This month’s Product Post goes deep on three companies that help them do just that. 



Led by former Hearst exec RJ Lehman, “Bullwhip is a new, semi-stealthy player on the scene whose website says merely that any advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The company’s initial product that is winning market share on the publisher side is essentially a commerce analytics suite— think Chartbeat for affiliate publishers. The software contains some valuable features for publishers to better understand the overall ARPU impact of affiliate content and take action accordingly to boost the efficacy of commerce media, such as swapping out a product in an SEO story that has gone stale and is no longer converting. 

If the vision stops there, it’s already a valuable product. But what if this is a Trojan Horse to something bigger? Ask yourself my friend, what sorts of offerings could a SaaS company create for brands if they had a network of commerce publishers obsessed with optimizing yield. And then maybe ask RJ……


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