Walmart is making a push to grow its advertising by positioning itself as a media platform.
Walmart’s pitch is that it controls transaction data from customers, which can help brands retarget consumers off Walmart.com, according to executives familiar with the matter. The big differentiator being pitched is Walmart’s brick-and-mortar locations — fulfilling a big promise of retail media that it can connect online with offline. And Walmart is making it count, trumpeting its combination of scale and offline data as a differentiator from Amazon. It’s doing that via more meetings with buyers, as well as at learning sessions and summits it’s holding with brands and agencies.
Walmart has over 5,000 locations, and e-commerce in the second quarter has grown 50 percent year over year, according to its most recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Online sales are a smaller part of its $486 billion annual revenue, but ad buyers say its acquisitions of e-commerce sites Jet.com, Bonobos, Moosejaw and ModCloth indicate it will continue to grow its ad muscle. Retail purchases often begin with online searches — and if Walmart can own more searches, it can capture more of that valuable search traffic. “If Walmart.com can relaunch its advertising with the Jet.com back end, this will buy it some clout and some breathing room,” speculated one buyer.