Can Walmart beat Amazon, Facebook and Google at the online ad game?
Walmart announced another step last week to jumpstart its fledgling online advertising business with the acquisition of digital advertising start-up Polymorph Labs.
In a statement, Stefanie Jay, Walmart Media Group SVP and general manager, wrote that Walmart has been “quietly building our advertising business” and Polymorph will fine-tune targeting efforts.
“Polymorph’s technology, which includes a high-speed ad server, a self-serve interface and server-side header bidding, will make advertising with Walmart easier for thousands of brands while delivering more relevant digital ads to consumers,” Mr. Jay said. “This technology complements Walmart’s current omni-channel ad targeting and measurement solution and will provide a platform for continued future innovation such as real-time auctions across multiple ad-pricing models (cost per click, cost per impression, cost per conversion).”
The Polymorph acquisition arrives only months after Walmart brought its ad sales force in-house to better leverage its shopper data both online and offline for advertisers.
“Our data has never been monetized and we have a tiny ad business,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told analysts last year, according to a Bloomberg report.
Walmart is likely responding in kind to the inroads being made by Amazon.com, which became the third largest ad platform last year behind Google and Facebook. Walmart said 90 percent of Americans shop at Walmart every year and its website and stores attract nearly 160 million visitors weekly.
“Simply put, we can help brands understand if someone saw their ad on Walmart’s platform or across the internet and then purchased the product in-store or online,” Mr. Jay wrote. “No one else can do this at scale like Walmart.”
Target, Kroger, Albertsons and Ahold Delhaize have also been quietly pushing their online advertising advantages. Some advertising watchers believe the direct link to purchasing data will eventually make retailers formidable competitors than the dominant online ad players, Facebook and Google.
In an Advertising Age article in early March, Jeff Greenfield, COO of marketing attribution firm C3 Metrics, predicted, “With the strongest retail base in the U.S. and massive amounts of shopper data, Walmart’s entry and Amazon’s growth will dilute Facebook and Google’s share of brand dollars by 25 percent over the next 18 months.”
- The Walmart Media Group – Walmart
- Walmart to Acquire Technology and Assets of Polymorph Labs to Expand In-House Ad Technology – Walmart
- Polymorph Acquisition Fact Sheet – Walmart
- Walmart just acquired a Silicon Valley startup as it works to build an ads business like Amazon’s – Business Insider
- Walmart acquires adtech startup Polymorph Labs to scale up its ad business – TechCrunch
- Walmart wants to become a big advertising player like Amazon – CNN
- Ad Sales Ambitions Of Walmart Threaten Google And Facebook – Advertising Age
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of Walmart’s ambition to become a major player in the online advertising business? Will retailers eventually upend Facebook and Google’s online advertising dominance?