Walmart Ecom Growth Offsets Weak Store Sales; Zuck In Belgium

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Writing On The Wal’

Walmart weathered a disappointing holiday sales season on the strength of its relatively new and fast-growing ecommerce business. “Ecom was ahead of plan and stores were behind plan,” Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon told investors Tuesday during the retailer’s earnings report. Walmart doesn’t break out ecommerce sales numbers, but online sales in the United States were up 37% in the past year, and the company’s guidance for this year forecasts another 30% growth. Read the release. Walmart emphasized why investors should like its world-leading gross merchandise volume and profitability, with its 47th consecutive year of share dividend increases. Some industry analysts consider that a handcuff – Walmart must commit billions of dollars per year back to investors, while Amazon invests more heavily in media, advertising and technology without much interest in ratcheting up profits.

Face, Talk To The Hand

Mark Zuckerberg is on a quasi-state visit to Brussels, meeting with European Union regulators and legislators about Facebook’s new outline for online content moderation – among other pressing issues in the bloc. But it’s been an uphill effort. Thierry Breton, the French markets regulator, rejected Facebook’s plan after a meeting with Zuckerberg. “It’s not enough. It’s too slow, it’s too low in terms of responsibility and regulation,” Breton said of Facebook’s proposal. Zuckerberg said it would be “operationally unfeasible” to moderate tens of billions of uploads per day in real time, Politico reports. On Monday, Zuckerberg met face-to-face for the first time with European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who’s investigating Facebook Marketplace for antitrust violations following complaints from rivals in the category. Facebook may have missed whatever chance it did have for a proper charm offensive. “It's not for us to adapt to those companies, but for them to adapt to us,” Breton said. More.

Ad Tech Down Under

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched a formal probe into the ad tech industry as part of a broader investigation of digital platforms. After reviewing an 18-month probe into digital platforms in December 2019, the Australian watchdog has begun another 18-month investigation into “technologies facilitating the supply of online advertising to Australian consumers,” said ACCC Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. The inquiry will focus on the competitiveness and efficiency of the market, the availability of information to the market ad tech serves, the concentration of power in the market, auction bidding processes and the distribution of spend between publishers, ad tech companies and agencies. The probe will be completed by Aug. 31, 2021, with an interim report released by Dec. 31, 2020. More.

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