Walmart Connect accelerates its retail media plans in Canada

The renamed Walmart Media Group is pursuing a self-service platform and DSP partner to take full advantage of the opportunity in retail media.
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By Mike Connell

Walmart Canada announced today that it is accelerating its continued expansion of Walmart Media Group and renaming the retail media business as Walmart Connect Canada.

“Our vision is to be the number one omnichannel provider of advertiser solutions in Canada,” says Dana Toering, newly appointed VP of Walmart Connect Canada, in the release.

Toering tells MiC that initial investment includes growing the in-store digital footprint by adding to the current “TV wall” that lives in the electronics section. He wasn’t able to confirm where it would be adding screens next, but noted opportunities at checkout, in the pharmacy section and the deli area.

A self-service ad-buying platform is also a significant next step, Toering confirms, but not something he could speak to at length.

In the U.S., Walmart Connect recently announced its partnership with The Trade Desk to launch its demand-side platform, “for suppliers and their media and ad agencies in time for the 2021 holiday season.”

Toering could only say that here in Canada Walmart is in discussions with The Trade Desk, but it hasn’t committed to a DSP partner at this time.

“Self-service changes the scope dynamic of the media agency itself,” adds Jason Dubroy, a shopper marketing expert who was recently hired as Mosaic’s SVP of commerce and experience. “With the disappearance of third-party cookies next year, brands will have to navigate single sources for their data and audience builds, and retailers with closed-loop ecosystems stand to disproportionately benefit from that.”

On top of GDPR, Apple’s IDFA privacy restrictions, and the upcoming death of the cookie, Toering says COVID-19 accelerated ecommerce “10 years into the future” and created “a perfect storm of opportunity for retail media to assert itself.”

Dubroy says the biggest challenge for brands in retail media will be addressing and measuring it – with a self-service platform, end-users will be empowered to purchase media themselves, and access to both hyper-targeted segmentation and POS results post-transaction will result in price premiums that need to be justified.

As a result, Toering says a major focus for the Walmart Connect team is working closely with media agencies to help their clients achieve their advertising and business objectives, particularly through the ability to activate Walmart’s first-person data to “drive maximum efficiency and accountability for their investment.”

With 80% annual household penetration in Canada, two million customers daily online and in-store and 10 million unique monthly visitors to its ecommerce site, Toering says Walmart is uniquely positioned to provide significant actionable insights to brands and partners.

Outside of technology, Toering says people are also going to be a significant area of investment, noting that he is growing his team with an emphasis on media and technology expertise.

Dubroy echoes this sentiment, acknowledging that retailers and retail media alike need to invest in experts: “Connected commerce experts who understand how to bridge the gaps between traditional brand building and digital nativity, especially as it relates to conversion modelling, e-merchandising and content management.”

Toering himself started at Walmart in Sept. 2020, bringing 20 years of experience in the media and technology industries to the table, having worked at organizations like AOL, Yahoo, Adobe and Accenture.

The role was newly created with Walmart Connect Canada’s renewed vision in mind, making profit and loss, sales, marketing and revenue generation Toering’s primary responsibilities.