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March 7, 2024

Walmart Buys Vizio and The Rise of Retailer Marketing

Tony Treadway

Retailer marketing blog article.

You may have missed that Walmart paid $2.3 Billion in February for TV maker Vizio. Unless you are in the business of reaching consumers through first-party data it is easy to overlook. However, the acquisition offers insights into the burgeoning business of retailer marketing.

Walmart was less interested in selling Vizio’s TV than its SmartCast Operating System loaded on every new TV. SmartCast serves streaming TV programming and commercials and likely monitors TV owner behaviors. SmartCast has 18 million active users with more than 500 advertisers. Walmart Connect, the retailer’s online pre-shop and e-commerce platform offered to suppliers for advertising to Walmart shoppers grew 30 percent. Vizio’s SmartCast greatly broadens Walmart’s reach into homes across America. As consumers continue to cut the cord on traditional cable in favor of streaming devices, the acquisition is nothing short of brilliant.

The Importance of First-Party Data

Image of the checkout counter in a grocery store.
Barcode scans, credit card, and smartphone data are vital in efficient shopper targeting for retailers and advertisers.

Retailers woke up a decade ago to the value of bar code scan data from their transactions tied to customer credit cards and smartphones. With that knowledge, they can pinpoint shopper behaviors to push related products to the individual rather than the masses. For a supplier looking for that efficiency in targeting the right consumer most likely to purchase their product, the revenue stream for the retailer increases greatly. Suppliers pay the retailer to market their products to the ideal target consumer on their platform. This level of first-party retailer marketing enables suppliers to instantly price their products differently, either to reward brand loyal consumers, lure back lapsed customers who haven’t bought their brand in a few months, or steal other brands’ customers by lowering the price to promote trial.

Other Forms of First-Party Access

We’ve been leveraging this type of marketing tactic for many years because of the efficiencies of rifle-targeting versus other tactics that market to a broader, but less efficient spend. Platforms such as Ibotta® and Instacart® monitor online shopping, browsing, and purchases independently of the retailer. Circana, the new name for IRI, can likewise provide insights into shopper targeting. Others leverage Circana data with shopper location-based smartphone data to follow the consumer home to deliver digital ads and Connected TV commercials across multiple streaming devices such as smart TVs, Roku, and Amazon Fire Sticks.

The Results Are Extraordinary

The ability to directly tie marketing activations to sales is the benefit of these forms of advertising and promotions. Available in near real-time via dashboards provided by our data partners, we share with our client’s sales lift analysis at an unprecedented scale.

Streaming CTV vs. OTT

Connected TV (streaming ads on TVs) and Over The Top (OTT), on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, are the hot platforms that can be linked to first-party data marketing strategies. According to data analytics company Harris X, more than 90% of Gen Z consumers watched TV content on their mobile devices (OTT) regularly compared to only 43% of Baby Boomers, so your target demographic should be considered in creating a marketing and media strategy.

Graph showing mobile device usage by generation.
According to Harris X, all but Baby Boomers are heavy mobile device users to watch content.

As for CTV, time spent viewing TV programming on their home TVs continues to rise compared to programming via cable or linear TV. Our approach of combining first-party or secondary data assures that the targeted consumer is exposed to our TV spots no matter the channel or time of day of their viewing. It is a distinct advantage compared to advertising on a likely cable channel or time of day that often misses the intended exposure.

Graph showing the average time spent per day with TV in US
Hours spent viewing connected TVs should exceed linear TV in just a few years.

Cost Effectiveness

CTV and OTT advertising eliminates the worrisome costs of broadcast or cable advertising. Traditional advertising is based on estimates of viewership based on the size of the market coverage area and channel viewership. Thus, spot costs in major markets have been out of reach for some clients.

CTV and OTT rates are based on cost per thousand (CPM). By layering in first or secondary data and geo-targeting consumers who we know regularly shop at a retailer location selling a client’s product, we typically use a five to ten-mile radius. With this kind of efficiency, even large markets such as Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and New York can be affordably reached. 

Looking For Smart Marketers. We’re Here. Staying ahead of the latest marketing tactics and their activations is essential in selecting an agency partner. We are on top of those trends and are activating multiple tactics in multiple markets for our clients daily. If you are looking for an agency with great creative who can deploy and report smart marketing tactics to grow your dollar and unit sales, we are ready to go to work for you.