Incremental: Providing Neutral And Holistic Measurement Of Retail Media In A $125 Billion Market

By Amit Chowdhry • Dec 8, 2023

Incremental is a company that provides truly neutral and holistic measurement of Retail Media, and Incremental helps brands and agencies isolate the incremental impact of each dollar they spend so they can scale with confidence that their investments will lead to growth. Pulse 2.0 interviewed Incremental CEO David Pollet to learn more about the company. 

David Pollet’s Background

David Pollet

During his career, Pollet has been working in startups with the exception of a 4-year stint managing digital media for Bank of America. And Pollet said:

“My first job was as the 8th employee of Andover.Net followed by a job as the 20th employee at LendingTree. Between then and now, I’ve lived through the dot-com bubble burst, participated in a few excellent exits, and closed the doors on a few companies that we thought would change the world. My background is a mix of big wins and big fails.”

“The last 15 years or so have been the most fun. A company called x+1 pulled me into machine learning applications, focused predominantly on helping marketers make smarter and faster decisions. That gained me entry into companies like Drawbridge, where I had the chance to work with teams on the cutting edge of machine learning and AI applications. And somehow that all led to Incremental, where I am getting to solve a big beefy problem with a mix of new and repeat coworkers. So far, this one is the most fun of them all.”

Differentiation From The Competition

What differentiates the company from its competition? Pollet shared:

“Today, brands and agencies are stuck with two less-than-ideal choices when it comes to measuring retail media, which represent the alternatives we compete with.”

“Either they rely on the retail media networks to measure the performance of the media they are selling to them, each with their own methodology leading to a fragmented and limited connection between investment and overall performance.”

“Or they attempt to apply legacy measurement tools to the new space of retail media. These solutions lack the granularity, frequency, and retail media specificity needed to inform decisions. Given the proximity of retail media to purchase, there are additional considerations that require deep intelligence into SKU level promotions, inventory levels, and real-time pricing changes that these legacy tools aren’t built to collect or model.”

“Incremental’s differentiation comes from addressing both of these deficiencies; delivering measurement that is consistent across all channels, at the speed and granularity of decision making AND remaining media neutral. We have no vested financial interest in the flow of media dollars. This enables us to provide objective measurement without any conflict of interest.”

Core Products

What are Incremental’s core products and features? Pollet explained:

Incremental’s entire focus is on helping brands understand the incremental impact of retail media investments and then optimize their investments to generate true, incremental growth for their business. Our platform breaks this into three key workflows: planning, optimization, and measurement. Alongside this, we have a suite of commerce analytic tools that help brands make sense of the fragmented e-commerce landscape.”

“Incremental’s retail media solution allows users to budget based on their desired sales target, letting them generate multiple potential investment scenarios to meet their objectives while remaining profitable. Week to week the platform then tracks performance against these objectives, providing guidance on course correction that would enable the same budget to yield more sales growth. Lastly, it provides near-real-time reporting on how those investments drive incremental growth for the business while controlling for external factors like seasonality, holidays, promotions, and non-retail media.”

“Incremental’s commerce analytics provide an at-a-glance view of ongoing sales performance across a brand’s online and offline retail channels, drawing together disparate data across the fragmented landscape into a single viewpoint. Users can drill into data categories across retail, advertising, inventory, and financial performance in order to determine top-performing products, track their sales costs, and uncover hidden growth opportunities.”

“For portfolio companies or private equity owners, we’ve developed a specialized portfolio management solution that allows a birds-eye view of multi-brand organizations. For partners working with multiple clients, this solution allows them to see holistic performance, while providing individualized data access to brands for their specific metrics, easily keeping internal stakeholders informed of their performance.”

Significant Milestones 

What have been some of the company’s most significant milestones? Pollet cited:

“The single most significant milestone for us came after our decision to refocus the business almost exclusively on measuring incrementality in retail media. This was a massive change that required a wholesale reorganization of the company, the scaling of our data science practice, and a shift in customer profiles. Getting from that decision to a live (and successful) engagement with a top 5 consumer brand was fun, excruciating, scary, and thrilling.”

“The milestone was a single meeting where we received highly credible third-party validation of the results we were driving for that brand. Our customer was growing because of the work we were doing!  The team traded in hope for belief that day. in the solution we had and were continuing to build. From that point on, every successful client deployment is a significant milestone.”

Customer Success Stories

When I asked Pollet about customer success stories, Pollet highlighted: 

“My favorite is actually a smaller emergent brand who dove into the deep end of the pool with us, making massive shifts away from high ‘ROAS’ (return on ad spend) to the campaigns we determined to be delivering the highest incremental return on ad spend. This was a huge bet for a smaller company with a thin margin for error. We projected a 24% increase in advertising-driven sales and a 4% increase in total sales. The impact of hitting that and then eventually exceeding those goals has been awesome.”

Total Addressable Market

What total addressable market (TAM) size is the company pursuing? Pollet assessed:

Retail media is a $125 billion market globally. Beyond being a huge market, it is the fastest-growing media type ever, outpacing channels like video or mobile.”

“Given our current capabilities, this yields us a present-day TAM of $1.5 billion in the U.S. alone. Right now our TAM is a function of what we believe marketers will pay for our services. There is undeniably an opportunity to provide similar services to the supply side. Given the potential to offer similar services to the other side of the media transaction and the overall growth of the market globally, we expect that TAM will grow in the coming years.”

Misconceptions About Incrementality

What does Pollet think is the biggest misconception around incrementality? He replied:

“Retail media has often been accused of not driving incremental growth for brands and overcrediting its performance. We’ve found that when planned and executed with an eye towards incremental marketing efforts, they are vastly under-credited by the current measurement that happens in a vacuum. Because of the fragmentation in the measurement landscape— both across platforms and measurement solutions— anywhere from 20-40% of sales credit is going unaccounted for.”

“The scores from existing retail media platforms do not reflect this disparity, in part because retailers don’t allow other retailers to measure performance between them. Many can only report on the impact of sales made on specific channels and do not account for those made elsewhere or the impact of these measurements across channels. 

Measurement Methodology Advice

How should brands approach changing their measurement methodology? Pollet concluded:

“We’ve seen successful shifts in measurement address 3 factors: 

1.) Commitment to change metrics, not just methodology

It starts with a commitment to changing the metrics they use to plan, optimize, and report the performance of their media. This may seem like an obvious statement. It’s vastly easier to say than to do. From analytics through to the CMO, there needs to be alignment on the fact that incremental growth of the business is the metric by which advertising will be measured. All too often we work with teams attempting to straddle the fence on old and new metrics. Brands need to align internally on the new metric. They need to elect true incremental growth over media vanity metrics, such as ROAS.

2.) Alignment of incentives 

The next step is ensuring there is alignment in incentives between the measurement partner and their own objectives as a business. If a measurement partner also makes money by selling you the media, they measure there is a structural conflict of interest between providing objective measurement and selling more media. For the measurement to be adopted organizationally and trusted, often a neutral partner is needed. 

3.) Aligning measurement to decisions

All too often, there is a push to determine the “best” methodology without first aligning on which decisions it will inform. Managerial useful measurement must not only provide statistical accuracy but also generate insights into the format, granularity, and frequency with which the organization makes decisions. This ensures that the measurement results aren’t just accurate but are delivered in time for them to matter and nest within an existing decision-making framework.”