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Walmart nurtures online ad business by stealth

Walmart is slowly but steadily building its online advertising arm as it inexorably muscles in on Amazon, helping to leverage its unique marriage of online and bricks and mortar sales data with advertisers.

This follows observations by KeyBanc analyst Ed Yruma who has noticed that the supermarket giant has begun hosting third-party banner ads more frequently, breaking with past precedent in which it has almost exclusively promoted its own products and sales.

Moreover Walmart has begun the process of joining up in-store and online sales data to increase the value of both in the eyes of advertisers by doubling up the amount of data they have at their disposal.

Outlining his Yruma said: “We believe Walmart recently began intensifying focus on its advertising business. There's a lot happening within physical stores, so being able to merge those two data sets will be incredibly important going forward.”

Walmart is limbering up for an anticipated tussle with Amazon as it muscles in on the burgeoning e-commerce sector, offering a spectrum of online ad options such as display media, native ads and programmatic buying – although online sales remain as yet a miniscule proportion of absolute revenues.

In a sign of growing animosity between the pair Walmart asked its suppliers to stop using Amazon's cloud services last month.