- Walmart is bringing its website ad sales and the related analytics work in-house, according to Ad Age. The account has been handled by WPP’s Triad, and the move eliminates most of the work for Triad, which WPP acquired less than three years ago. The transition is expected to last through May.
- Hundreds of jobs will be affected, and Triad, which is part of GroupM’s performance marketing group, reportedly will enforce noncompete clauses in their contracts, thereby preventing employees from moving to Walmart Media Group, which will handle the ad operations. Walmart is expected to add hundreds of employees with the move, sources told Ad Age.
- Triad’s other clients include Staples, Office Depot, Kohl’s, CVS, Wayfair and Sears, which combined include about half of Walmart’s retail sales. In 2017, Triad’s then second-largest client eBay took its business in-house. Haworth handles media buying for Walmart and Sam’s Club and is 49% owned by WPP.
Walmart bringing its online ad sales in-house is the latest move for the company in its ongoing competition with Amazon, which also brought its media sales in-house in recent years and has seen that business expand significantly. Selling ads targeting customers is more important than ever for retailers, and Walmart is hoping to grab a larger share in this space. Amazon is estimated to monetize 16% of the searches on its site, compared to Walmart’s 1%, according Ad Age citing a report from Gartner’s L2.
Walmart could have some key advantages in selling ads, including its large audience. With 300 million shoppers visiting Walmart stores every month and millions more shopping on Walmart.com, the retailer's audience surpasses Google, Facebook or Amazon, according to Forrester research cited in a recent Bloomberg report. The article details how Walmart, Target, Kroger and other retailers are making a bigger push to leverage customer data to sell ads to major brands like Coca-Cola.
With Walmart's sales growing, the retailer has a wealth of transactional and other customer data that could help brands optimize their campaigns. The news comes as Walmart reported a 1.9% increase in total revenue, reaching $138.8 billion for Q4 2018. The brand’s e-commerce sales jumped 43%, ahead of the 40% year-over-year growth, according to Retail Dive. The company’s grocery pickup and delivery segment contributed to the e-commerce growth, and Walmart said it gained grocery market share and sees it as a key area where it can compete with Amazon, Forbes reported. Walmart also said it is embracing new technology, like robots to scan store-shelf inventory and clean floors, and virtual reality devices to train employees.
Losing Walmart’s online ad sales business is the latest blow for WPP, which has lost other major business, including Ford, Amex and PepsiCo’s Gatorade. WPP said it plans to restore its growth by focusing on four business areas: communications, experience, commerce and technology.