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Mastering Retailer Ad Platforms

Marketers must deepen their knowledge of the industry’s growing digital ad tools and cultivate new approaches and partnerships.

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With so much attention among today’s retail leaders on Amazon and e-commerce, it is easy to miss one of the most important recent trends beneath the surface: the growth of traditional retailers as digital media channels. Over the past several months, retail giants Walmart, Target and Kroger have introduced new digital ad tools as part of an ongoing expansion and consolidation of their in-house media platforms, seeking to gain more control over messaging to shoppers while combating the use of outside digital ad vendors.

In June, Walmart introduced the Walmart Media Group (WMG) strategic advertising platform following a four-year expansion of its digital ad tools under the Walmart Exchange (WMX). The retailer also recently redesigned with a host of stylistic changes aimed at enhancing the online experience and increasing shopper engagement.

Target continues to expand its digital ad capabilities under its in-house media platform, Target Media Network, while Kroger introduced Kroger Precision Marketing late in the fall of 2017.

Marketers are increasingly being swayed to go exclusively through these media networks in running ads on websites owned and operated by the individual retailer. At a time when marketers rely heavily on digital tools to help close the loop on purchases, retailers want to exert more control over the message being delivered to their shoppers, says Richard Wright, senior manager of shopper marketing at Georgia-Pacific. “Retailers want marketers to look at their media platforms as a one-stop shop for all their advertising needs,” he says. “For the most part, these tools have always been available, but they are evolving and becoming more robust. Target in particular has been adding capabilities around search. That’s going to be a key lever to pull going forward.”

Walmart’s introduction of WMG represents a maturation of its strategy to expand into new online businesses through acquisitions including and various other digital properties, says Heidi Froseth, executive vice president of the omnicommerce practice at Epsilon Catapult. “With WMG, Walmart is strategically positioned to operationalize all of its assets and create the right role and opportunity for each of these technology brands for the right customers. This is a level of competition against Amazon that we have not seen before. It’s an incredibly aggressive position and puts Walmart and Amazon head and shoulders above everyone else.”

This drive to push media to the forefront of the marketing and merchandising conversation is causing brands to rethink the way they approach retailer ad platforms and go to market with shopper programs. “Marketers will still work with their sales and category teams to partner with the merchant on marketing, merchandising and innovation, but media is increasingly becoming a more integral part of how the retailer engages its agency with its marketing tools and assets,” says Froseth.

In the "related content" that follows -- in collaboration with Epsilon Catapult -- we present a guide to working with the major retailer ad platforms at Walmart, Target and Kroger, highlighting each platform’s key capabilities and examining ways to optimize the partnership between the media teams, the brand marketer and its agency.



Walmart rebranded its WMX ad platform as Walmart Media Group in June, having introduced a redesigned earlier in the year.


In its third year, Target Media Network comprises three major ad channels:, external websites under the Bullseye marketplace, and social media (primarily Facebook).


Kroger Precision Marketing officially launched in the fall of 2017. Dedicated new KPM teams were still being formed as of late spring.

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About the Sponsor

Epsilon Catapult is a comprehensive global marketing innovator with a best-in-class practice in shopper marketing. Our unrivaled data intelligence and customer insights leadership combined with our world-class technology including loyalty, email and CRM platforms and data-driven creative, activation and execution create the best possible solutions and growth for our clients, their retail partners and shared shoppers in the marketplace. We curate personalized marketing to consumers across offline and online channels, during their moments of interest, that help drive business growth for brands. Epsilon employs over 8,000 associates in 70 offices worldwide. Epsilon is an Alliance Data company. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @EpsilonMktg.

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