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Walmart: The New Media Agency

WalmartWMXWalmart’s widely revered as a retail maven, but media buyer? It’s a brand-new capability for the $473-billion company, which on Friday revealed more details about the digital marketing platform it’s developed, the Walmart Exchange (WMX).

Like Amazon, which has turned massive amounts of shopper data into monetization opportunities for brands via Amazon Media Group’s demand-side platform Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP), Walmart is harnessing purchase, loyalty and other unspecified third party data assets to help suppliers spend their media dollars.

“The big difference, in my mind, is that Amazon is primarily focused on monetizing Amazon traffic,” commented Jason Goldberg, VP of commerce strategy for Razorfish. “The advertisers on their platform are often not vendors selling through Amazon, and the attribution of that media is exclusively direct-response clicks.”

Walmart, too, is monetizing audience traffic but seems to be eyeing media, initially, as a means to drive more sales for the retailer. Consider a brand like Tide, which following a brand campaign might wish to measure and track offline sales performance at the SKU level for its High-Efficiency detergent in specific geos.

Although other companies like Datalogix and Dunnhumby specialize in online-to-offline measurement, and other retailers like Tesco and Staples have invested in “innovation labs,” Walmart’s intent to develop media and marketing optimization services essentially makes it a media agency.

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Retailigence Makes A Pop In Programmatic Creative With Partner Deal

RetailigenceRetailigence, a mobile location company that connects brand advertisers with brick-and-mortar pricing and product availability down to the SKU, has turned an eye toward ad tech vendors.

Rolling out on Wednesday an adPop Engine for channel partners, of which Medialets, AdColony, PointRoll, Tremor Video and Xtopoly are early users, the company, which bills itself as an offline-to-online marketing platform, is looking to infuse location-based shopper audience data with dynamic ad servers.

“To bring up extremely relevant, ultra-current information from a retail source for shoppers to say, ‘What can we show you that will make you engage, interact and be legitimately useful to you?’ was the impetus for us connecting with Retailigence,” commented David Simon, CMO of PointRoll.

PointRoll (which was acquired by Gannett in 2005) focuses on dynamic creative optimization, working with a number of brands ranging from Staples to CVS, to help them dynamically surface creative and rich media. PointRoll’s technology, according to Simon, “enables us to figure out who to show an ad to, what information we have permission to leverage and then basically build an ad in 10-20 milliseconds.”

Particularly as it pertains to dynamic ad insertion and creative in the retail vertical, Simon said it’s still early days, but as the in-store experience shifts with shopper innovations around reserve online and pick up in-store, there is increased demand for ways to integrate options for reserving a product or determining local availability of that product in the ad unit itself.

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Boutique Ecommerce Brands Consider TV Advertising

TVecommEcommerce startups have turned toward television advertising, signaling shifting interest from reaching a niche group of consumers to mass audiences.

Some, such as subscription ecommerce startup Birchbox, are investing money in the medium for the first time. Birchbox debuted its “Open For Beautiful” television campaign Monday, which will be supplemented with shoppable online video and print creative. Media and entertainment platform Popsugar launched last fall its first, $25 million TV ad campaign for startup ShopStyle, which it acquired in 2007.

“I have seen [traditionally] digital advertisers go to TV for what TV does well: creating awareness, [an] emotional connection and [to] build brands,” said Krista Lang, SVP and executive media director for independent agency 22squared. “They might also be doing it to attract investors and talent.”

For flash sale site Gilt, television reinforces its digital presence and provides a forum to tell new stories. Its newest campaign launched digitally with pre-roll ads on YouTube and social channels, then extended via national TV buys in the US and Canada.

“This has been an effective way for us to advertise and drive awareness of the Gilt brand across multiple platforms on a national level,” said Elizabeth Francis, CMO of Gilt.

Unlike Birchbox and Popsugar, Gilt first experimented with TV two years ago with a campaign showcasing its “gaming” element – the rush of shoppers storming the site for the flash sale at noon. This initial push was primarily about awareness. But as ecommerce brands shift focus away from flash sales, they’re trying to encourage deeper connections and longer user sessions. These goals have created new demand for television ads.

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@WalmartLabs Acquires Adchemy For Semantic Search Smarts

TechShoppingBig box retailer Walmart’s software and technology accelerator @WalmartLabs has acquired Adchemy, the developer of a SaaS platform that essentially makes retail product search smarter.

Silicon Valley-based @WalmartLabs, which employs 2,100 people, was founded three years ago as a way to develop and scale technology to tap into online buying patterns of the store’s 245 million weekly shoppers. Adchemy, which employs 60 people, is the Labs' 12th acquisition and the most sizable deal yet in terms of head count, the company said.

Adchemy last fall divested its lead-generation and performance-marketing business, called “Actions,” to XL Marketing, which has since been rebranded as Zeta Interactive. The company said at the time it intended to focus on software instead of services.

Adchemy VP of Products and former Yahoo engineer Ethan Batraski (who is joining @WalmartLabs) noted that one of the greatest challenges for retail marketers is accurately matching products to queries. This is where predictive and data-driven optimization, can help detect the nuances between consumer intent and merchants' best-selling, and (properly) priced, products.

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Walmart.com’s Brian Monahan On Bridging The Digital-Physical Divide

Brian-MonahanWalmart.com VP of Marketing Brian Monahan provided a glimpse into the retail giant’s strategy for bridging online and offline commerce Tuesday at Ad Age’s Digital Conference.

More than 240 million people in the United States visit Walmart’s stores, clubs, sites and apps on a weekly basis, Monahan said. And as consumers increasingly move across digital and physical stores, Walmart wants to “help our customers get what they want, when they want it and how they want it,” Monahan said.

But the company still has “a lot of work on the advertising and marketing front” before it can bridge the physical and digital divide, he added. A Magna Global and IPG Media Lab alum, Monahan said software plays an important role in helping Walmart reach its goals.

"Media planning today is beyond human comprehension," he said. "There are so many choices for where you can put your precious investment. It's a software problem."

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How Newegg Eggs On New Customers

Aaron yin NeweggDespite the recent headlines generated around Newegg.com's battles with patent trolls, the company is best known as an ecommerce retailer of computer hardware and software. The company is privately held, and has an estimated revenue of $2.8 billion.

A large part of Newegg's growth has to do with its continuous customer acquisition. At Adobe Summit 2014 the head of the company's marketing management office, Aaron Yin, sat down with AdExchanger to discuss how Newegg divides its customers and prospects into segments and strategically messages them across channels.

He also discussed the way the e-tailer has assembled its digital marketing tools, which include four Adobe Marketing Cloud products (Analytics, Target, Media Optimizer and the website asset manager Scene7), along with a handful of solutions from other vendors. (more…)


How SAP Works With Adobe

sap hybrisWith Tuesday’s announcement that SAP will resell Adobe Marketing Cloud, packaged with the analytics platform HANA and the ecommerce solution hybris, it’s fair to wonder what SAP’s role in digital marketing will be going forward.

Will it, for instance, ever develop its own marketing cloud to compete with Oracle, Salesforce.com or IBM? Brian Walker, chief strategy office at hybris, and Siddharth Taparia, senior director at SAP, spoke to AdExchanger about SAP’s future in digital marketing and its partnership with Adobe.

AdExchanger: Is it fair to say that SAP’s marketing cloud is Adobe Marketing Cloud?

SIDDHARTH TAPARIA: Our intention at the end of the day is to go to customers with best-of-breed solutions, whether it comes through our own innovations, through acquisitions or through partnerships like what we announced with Adobe yesterday.

We’ve been building out innovative solution sets to serve the office of the CMO. We have three pillars that make out that solution set. The first is the customer insights piece. We have unique technology no one in the industry has around HANA, which is our in-memory technology.

We also have the commerce solution, which we acquired from hybris.

And with the Adobe partnership, we can complete the picture and provide digital marketing capabilities to our customers.

So we have been leading in marketing resource management area with the CRM piece as well as the analytics piece with HANA. And with digital marketing from Adobe, we complete the full picture for our customers. (more…)


MyBuys Drives Email And Display Ad Personalization

BobCellMyBuys, a provider of personalized recommendations solutions for retailers, has rolled out a display ad offering called MyAds and rewired its product suite.

CEO Bob Cell said the changes let marketers more easily measure across the full consumer journey. And just as larger vendors like Adobe have moved toward “customer profile” pricing schemas, so too has MyBuys with its Active Shopper Database. Founded in 2006, the company serves such clients as GNC and Major League Baseball.

Cell spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: Bring us up to speed on MyBuys.

BOB CELL: In the past, we were leaders in personalizing on the website for offers and products. The second area we personalize is email; we connect the website activity and preferences captured and our analytics create individual emails for consumers, which we’ve called Alerts and MyMail.

Over the last three years we've developed technologies that have culminated in our display ad solution, MyAds.

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Behind Expedia’s Media Enterprise

ExpediaMediaMany know Expedia.com for its bevy of hotel-booking businesses such as Hotwire and Hotels.com, but its burgeoning media services division is a lesser-known Internet name.

Expedia Media Solutions provides access to an active audience of 70 million monthly users. The business connects advertisers to in-market travelers across a wide range of supply sources and partners like Travelocity, which Expedia essentially “powers” in search results.

Noah Tratt, global VP of Expedia Media Solutions, gave AdExchanger the backstory on its travel media business.

AdExchanger: How did Expedia.com’s Media Solutions business come about?

NOAH TRATT: The group started in 2007 and, I’d say from 2007 to 2009, we were really focused on travel. The group was called Partner Marketing and we were very focused on suppliers and how we promote suppliers within our store. Starting in 2009, we started working with nonendemic partners to evolve our offering to accommodate nonpartner marketing business needs. We went through a two-year period where we learned a lot and improved, which has helped us be a better media company.

Do you serve the agency, advertiser or both?

The idea of doing media on Expedia was a response to our supplier relationships. The hotels we worked with wanted to find ways to amplify their product, service and brand on Expedia and our other properties. Over the last couple of years not only have we become a more global company, but we’ve realized that the innovation we’re investing in is not just relevant to those suppliers, but nonendemic advertisers as well. We’re really excited about a recent DreamWorks Animation campaign we helped with.

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Why A Marriage Between Retailers And Demand-Side Platforms Makes Sense

RetailAre brick-and-mortar retail chains setting their sights on demand-side platforms (DSPs)?

The rumor that Tesco’s customer insights subsidiary, Dunnhumby, will acquire Sociomantic, a DSP provider, adds fuel to the possibility. And whether or not the rumored acquisition is true, industry experts expect to see more retailers working with DSPs.

If the deal occurs, Dunnhumby will gain a DSP that it could use to help Tesco and its other clients strengthen online targeting capabilities with ecommerce and shopper data. In addition, Sociomantic has bulked up its mobile, revenue-management and CRM capabilities, giving the British analytics firm additional advantages.

“My hunch is that Dunnhumby would do a combination of things [with  Sociomantic],” said Maureen Little, SVP of business development at Turn. “That could include enhancing the marketing capabilities of Tesco, building an ad business or adding it to a tech lab.”

The pressure to catch up with the personalization techniques, ad targeting and other capabilities of online retailers continues to rise for brick-and-mortar stores. While product test labs are not new, some retailers are building labs dedicated to bridging the gap between online and offline environments.

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