The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, reported the deal is aimed at increasing Target’s digital advertising efforts. Triad’s main business is selling advertising space on the websites of retailers and helping brands create digital advertising campaigns. The Wall Street Journal reported that talks are in the early stage and could break down. WPP had purchased Triad for about $300 million in 2016 from Rockbridge Growth Equity, the private equity firm.
Target and Walmart are trying to take a page from Amazon, which has morphed into a huge seller of ad space and is now the third largest online seller of ad space in the U.S. It is now only behind Google and Facebook. Citing eMarketer, the paper said Amazon’s ad business is expected to generate $11.3 billion this year.
Target has been trying to crack into the market and held an event at NewsFront, the yearly show in which online publishers usually pitch their offerings to ad buyers. In May Target rebranded its ad buying business — Target Media Network — as Roundel, which offers ads on Target, Pinterest and PopSugar among other digital properties. The Wall Street Journal noted that close to 1,000 marketers, including those from Walt Disney, Mastercard and Unilever, have run ads on Target.
With the purchase of Triad, it will be able to expand those ad-selling efforts. Walmart is also boosting its efforts on that front. According to The Wall Street Journal, Walmart announced plans to bring digital advertising in-house after ending its relationship with Triad. It is also tapping user data to sell its products across different digital platforms and is reportedly hosting an event in May to lure marketers to its websites.
The potential sale of Triad comes as WPP is in restructuring mode under its chief executive officer Mark Read as the advertising giant looks to make its businesses simpler. In late 2018 it announced plans to sell a majority stake in Kantar Group, a market research firm, and combined several of its agencies.