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Walmart Announces Changes in Media Buying, Supplier Relationship

16 Jul, 2014 By: Doug McPherson

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Walmart is unveiling new tools its vendors can use to make their digital marketing more effective.

In a recent meeting with roughly 200 supplier marketing executives, AdAge reports the retail giant shared the latest news on Walmart Exchange (WMX), a digital targeting, buying and optimization platform it revealed last year designed to help vendors and reduce waste in advertising and media.

Brian Monahan, vice president of marketing at, calls WMX a digital marketing platform “where we share data with suppliers to help give relevant messaging to customers and to measure that sales result at the world’s largest retailer. It also allows the company to take costs out of the system.”

Analysts say WMX is Walmart’s way of applying “big data” to marketing and involves using data from to input sales into social media platforms and third-party data. The retailer wants boost data by getting shoppers to input their offline store receipts into their Walmart app that will generate a database to rival other retailers’ loyalty programs.

“We will build all of the other data populations you can use to create customer segments,” says Wanda Young, vice president of media and digital marketing. “Then we will use that in partnership to go out and buy media on behalf of our suppliers.”

AdAge says Walmart’s media shop, MediaVest, is working with WMX in buying Walmart digital ads, but it’s not clear whether the shop will get involved with buys for any suppliers. Some supplier executives considering WMX are working with their own digital-media agencies.

One supplier executive said the idea “fits with Walmart’s eternal desire” to get suppliers to lower ad budgets and “put the dollars into a lower price for them,” adding that he’d be open to using WMX if tests show it works well.

Asked if Walmart has its own demand-side platform, Young said, “We’re working through the systems evolution. If you think about it, the engineers who sit behind WMX, realistically, that is kind of a demand-side platform. But the software is going to evolve. So we’ll continue to look at how much of it stays an in-house only solution or which partners we continue to work with.”

Walmart is reportedly talking to online publishers to build up the way the WMX advertising pool fills, and contends it will work to build that so it gets bigger. WMX currently uses display and search, and Walmart plans to apply it to other areas, such as E-mail and mobile.

“The big bet we’re placing is that almost all media will eventually be addressable in one form or another, and so all this capability and the infrastructure under it will only grow in value to us,” says Stephen Quinn, Walmart’s chief marketing officer. “So it’s a big shift in the entire advertising world toward digital solutions and that’s where we’re going with broadcast. We use our own data to help us inform our television buys so we’re reaching the right customers. And that’s true even of our print.”

Walmart is also preparing a pilot that will let shoppers get reviews or other product information on their smartphones by scanning the product ads in its newspaper and direct mail.

Quinn says social and digital advertising is reaching “critical mass” and that it “lets suppliers, such as Samsung and P&G, see that their marketing is actually having an impact at Walmart, and we’re able to speed up reporting in real time. It’s pretty much a holy grail for us as marketers.”

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