Unlocking the Potential of Retail Media for B2B Marketplaces

Seyf Emen

April 10, 2023
5 mins
Auction Based Ads
Marketplace Monetization

In recent years, Retail Media for B2B Marketplaces has gained significant momentum, transforming the advertising landscape for businesses. As more and more B2B companies recognize the value of this advertising approach, it's time to take a closer look at how retail media platforms can boost marketplace visibility and drive growth for businesses while improving the experience for vendors and users at the same time.

In this article, we will explore what B2B marketplace advertising entails, the rise of B2B marketplace retail media platforms, and the benefits of auction-based ads for B2B marketplaces. We will also share some real-world examples and industry numbers to help you gain a better understanding of this powerful advertising medium.

The Rise of Retail Media for B2B Marketplaces

In the past, the world of retail media was largely focused on B2C marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, and Target. The main reason could be Amazon’s $38bn revenue from advertising and Walmart’s growing ad business with $2.7bn revenue.

However, B2B e-commerce platforms are now joining the retail media party, and it's no surprise why. 

According to eMarketer, B2B e-commerce sales will reach $ 2.47 trillion in the US alone. Considering Asia Pacific is the leading region by the value of B2B eCommerce GMV, constituting about 80% of the global B2B e-commerce market, we can understand how big the market is. 

In such a big market, even small percentages of ad revenues equal huge numbers. The advertising businesses of B2C marketplaces show the value of ads. In-platform ads (call it retai media or commerce media) allow businesses to advertise their products and services directly on B2B marketplaces, such as Alibaba, Thomasnet, and GlobalSources, and have become an effective way to target and engage prospective customers. By utilizing B2B marketplace advertising, businesses can promote their products and services to a more targeted audience and generate qualified leads, ultimately driving growth and revenue.

But, what exactly makes advertising so important for the vendors? 

The answer is simple: Average order values for B2B marketplaces are relatively higher than for B2C marketplaces. So a tool that puts vendors and their products in front of the relevant audience is incredibly valuable. 

That’s why B2B marketplaces are capturing this lucrative opportunity. A B2B Marketplace Retail Media Platform creates a scalable revenue stream for the marketplace and strengthens the relationships with the vendors. 

B2B Marketplace Retail Media Platforms

As the demand for retail media continues to grow in the B2B sector, specialized retail media platforms are emerging to cater to this need. Alibaba, DHGate, Flipcart, GlobalSources, and many other marketplaces are already offering ads to their vendors and letting them manage and optimize their advertising campaigns within B2B marketplaces. 

These platforms provide a comprehensive suite of tools and features, such as ad placement optimization, audience targeting, and performance tracking, enabling businesses to gain a competitive edge in an increasingly crowded and lucrative market.

A visit to any of these platforms will show how vendors are using this opportunity to promote their products. For example, the top of the search result page of GlobalSources is reserved for ads. You can visit Alibaba, Flipkart, or another B2B marketplace and see a similar structure. Marketplaces are monetizing their ad inventories and vendors are investing in their ad dollars to these in-platform ads.

A screenshot showing a retail media platform for a b2b marketplace

Why Auction-Based Ads for B2B Marketplaces?

One common feature of the B2B Marketplace retail media platform is that they are all auction-based, rather than having a fixed-price mode. Simply put, auction-based ads allow businesses to bid for ad placements within the B2B marketplace, ensuring that the most relevant and high-quality ads are displayed to the target audience. By using auction-based ads for B2B marketplaces, businesses can gain better control over their ad spend, build a scalable ad business and maximize their return on investment (ROI). You can read more about how auctions work and how they reveal the true value of your ad inventory

Benefits of Retail Media Platforms for Vendors, Users, and Marketplaces

We know that marketplaces are delicate ecosystems and any addition to such ecosystems needs to fit perfectly and boost the experience for everyone. Retail media platforms offer numerous benefits for B2B marketplaces, their vendors, and users. Some of the most notable advantages include:

Enhanced Visibility for Vendors

By utilizing retail media platforms, vendors can significantly increase the visibility of their products and services, driving higher engagement and conversion rates. This increased visibility offers a value the vendors can not find in other marketing channels like Facebook, Google, Social Media, etc.

Targeted Advertising

Retail media platforms allow vendors to tailor their ad campaigns to reach a specific target audience when it matters the most, resulting in more relevant ads and improve conversion rates.

Cost Efficiency

With auction-based advertising models, vendors can optimize their ad spend and maximize their ROI, making retail media platforms a cost-effective advertising solution. You can check some of our case studies to see examples of impressive ROAS for vendors. 

Better User Experience

Users benefit from more relevant and targeted ads, leading to a better overall shopping experience and increased satisfaction. It’s important to mention that the relevance of ads plays a role here. A well-designed ad business boosts the experience for users, while a poorly-designed one might harm the marketplace dynamics. 

Increased Marketplace Revenues 

Marketplaces can generate additional revenue streams by offering advertising opportunities to vendors, making retail media platforms a win-win solution for all parties involved. The revenue from ads can range anything from 5-15% of the GMV, showing an impressive potential for marketplaces. 

Features of a B2B Marketplace Retail Media Platform

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to ad businesses, there are some core features such platforms should have. Here at Topsort, we offer everything a B2B marketplace needs to build, scale, and optimize its ad business.  

The features of your ad platform should fit your business with a goal to improve the experience for your vendors and user.

A well-designed B2B marketplace retail media platform should offer the following features.

Multiple Ad Formats

You will need different ad formats to respond to the needs of vendors and engage with users at different stages of the buyer journey. Sponsored Listings, Banners, and videos are key ad formats that can help you build different ad offerings. 

Audience Targeting

Your ad business should allow advertisers to create highly targeted campaigns by selecting specific demographic, geographic, and behavioral criteria, ensuring ads are shown to the right audience at the right time.

While designing your targeting features, keep in mind that they should not be based on 3rd party cookies which will die soon and are not privacy-friendly.

Campaign Management and Reporting

Advertisers should be able to easily manage multiple campaigns and track performance with comprehensive reporting and analytics tools, enabling data-driven optimization and decision-making.


Auction-based ads platforms require advertisers to set bids for their ads. While this might sound simple, it actually requires a lot of trial and error to find the right bid, and in ever-changing environments, the amount you set might change based on the shopping season and demand fluctuations. When the number of products increases, setting bids becomes harder.

Autobidding algorithms set optimal bid prices that get your advertisers their performance goals. It simplifies your vendors’ lives while making it extremely easy to manage your ad business and scale it. 

Our autobidding algorithm helped many businesses scale their ad platforms and boost their revenues fast.

Launching a Retail Media Platform for a B2B Marketplace

Implementing a retail media platform for your B2B marketplace can be a game-changer. It’s clear now. But how exactly should you launch it? 

After working with tens of marketplaces around the globe and helping them launch and scale their ad platforms, we have created some basic steps you should consider when launching a retail media platform. 

Here at Topsort, we work with our partners every step of the way and share our experience as they launch their retail media platforms.

Define Your Objectives: 

Clearly outline the goals of your retail media platform, such as increasing marketplace revenue, enhancing vendor visibility, or improving user experience. You can extend these goals to your launching period and growth periods. 

Assess Marketplace Needs

Analyze your marketplace to identify the specific needs and challenges faced by your vendors and users. Do they need visibility or boost sales? Are they happy with their brand awareness? Understand their needs and this information to design a retail media platform that addresses these needs and enhances the overall experience for all parties involved.

Develop Ad Guidelines and Policies

Establish clear guidelines and policies regarding ad content, placement, and targeting to maintain a high level of quality and relevance within your marketplace.

Offer Support and Education

Provide training and resources to your vendors to help them understand how to effectively use the retail media platform and maximize their advertising ROI. Offer ongoing support and best practices to ensure long-term success. 

We often work with our partners and host webinars to onboard new vendors and help existing vendors improve their campaign performances which brings us to the last point.

Monitor Performance and Optimize 

Regularly analyze the performance of your retail media platform to identify areas for improvement and optimization. Continuously refine and enhance the platform to deliver the best possible results for your vendors, users, and marketplace.

An intuitive tool like Topsort Analytics Tab can give your real-time insights and deeper analytics of your ad businesses.

In conclusion, B2B marketplace retail media platforms have gained significant momentum in recent years, transforming the advertising landscape for businesses. The rise of specialized retail media platforms and the adoption of auction-based ads by big and small B2B marketplaces have provided numerous benefits to vendors, users, and marketplaces alike. 

To launch a successful retail media platform for a B2B marketplace, it is essential to define clear objectives, assess marketplace needs, develop ad guidelines and policies, offer support and education to vendors, and monitor performance and optimize continuously. By taking advantage of this powerful advertising medium, you can build a new, scalable and high-margin revenue stream.

Ready to launch your own auction-based ad platform to capture the ever-increasing retail media budgets? Got questions or doubts? Book a call and talk to your experts today! We will answer the questions you have and explain how you can launch, scale, and optimize your own B2B marketplace ad platform! 

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