With reports percolating about Amazon’s increasingly clear emergence as a third party to Google and Facebook’s dominance of the digital ad market, the e-commerce behemoth’s old-school counterpart is reportedly looking at getting in on the action itself.
That’s the latest from Bloomberg, which reports that Walmart is mulling a pursuit of ad dollars based on the large-scale digital activity and massive customer base that have made Amazon a major player in that arena. It makes sense—put a nearly unparalleled number of consumer eyeballs on your site together with intent to purchase, and the pitch to advertisers shouldn’t take a first-rank ad exec to land.
There’s a catch, though. Walmart lacks the digital-first DNA of its initially online-only competitors, and it will take some reworking to turn the nation’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer—which commands a customer following even greater than those of the tech giants—into a digital ad juggernaut.
With that in mind, expect Walmart to ramp up investment in the kinds of talent and technical infrastructure that will allow it to make sense of customer data and offer best-in-class targeting to potential advertisers. The company’s already taken leaps in that direction, investing a fortune in its e-commerce business, scooping up Flipkart, and expanding grocery delivery 15-fold in 2018.
Joe Zappa is Street Fight’s managing editor.