Walmart Sets Sights on Retail Media as Content and Commerce Blur

Walmart May Be Setting Sights on Retail Media in Race With Amazon

This week in the ongoing race for customers’ loyalty and engagement between retail powerhouses Walmart and Amazon, the former may be looking to join in the streaming media space, where the latter is already well established.

Walmart is said to be in discussions to purchase smart television maker Vizio for more than $2 billion. This potential deal aims to boost the retailer’s advertising business, with major chains increasingly recognizing the importance of consumer data and ad space as a factor in holding their ground against Amazon.

The deal would grant Walmart access to Vizio’s TV operating system, ad inventory and ad viewership data, enabling the retailer to offer targeted advertising to viewers on Vizio TVs, potentially even shoppable ones.

Amazon, for its part, already offers shoppable ads on a range of platforms. Additionally, with the combination of its hardware efforts, through its Amazon Fire TV brand, and its digital investments, such as its Prime Video platform (which, according to one estimate, is the leading streaming service in the country), the company has a hold on many consumers’ movie- and television-viewing experiences.

Capturing the Hardware Spend

Last March, Amazon reported more than 200 million of its Fire TVs sold around the world.

Meanwhile, Vizio ships roughly 1 million smart TVs per quarter, according to recent earnings releases, and sales have been declining slightly each year.

The November edition of PYMNTS’ “Whole Paycheck Report” series, “Amazon Extends Its Lead Over Walmart in Retail Spend,” drew on earnings reports from the first quarter of 2019 through the third quarter of 2023 in conjunction with national data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis to estimate each retail giant’s market share in various categories. The results revealed that when it comes to electronics, Amazon is in the lead.

Specifically, the eCommerce giant holds an estimated 37% share of United States consumers’ spending on electronics and appliances, whereas Walmart’s share is 6%, such that the former’s hold on the category exceeds the latter by more than 6-to-1.

The Media Opportunity

The chance to capture consumers’ attention during their leisure routines — when they are doing activities such as watching TV — is a valuable one. A PYMNTS Intelligence survey of more than 4,600 U.S. consumers for the “How We Will Pay Report: How Connected Devices Enable Multitasking Among Digital-First Consumers” found that people spend 4.7 hours of their average weekday and 6.85 hours of their average weekend on leisure activities.

Additionally, these hours come with commerce opportunities. The same study found that 30% of the 76% of consumers who multitask with connected devices while engaged in leisure activities do so to shop for retail products.

Consumers are open to shoppable moments being integrated into their media-viewing routines. The same report noted that 1 in 3 connected device owners reported that they would be interested in the following internet-connected buying experience: “You are watching your favorite livestreamed series on your iPad or mobile device, and you want to buy an item of clothing or piece of jewelry that you see on one of the actors in the series. You are able to touch the screen to go to the product page and make the purchase.”

In the rapidly evolving landscape of retail and media, Walmart’s potential acquisition of Vizio marks a strategic move aimed at reshaping its position in the battle for consumer engagement. With Amazon’s stronghold in the streaming media space, Walmart recognizes the significance of expanding its reach beyond traditional retail. By using Vizio’s technology and ad inventory, Walmart aims to tap into the lucrative market of targeted advertising, enhancing its competitive edge.

As the retail giants continue to vie for dominance, the integration of shoppable moments into media-viewing experiences signals a paradigm shift in consumer behavior, one where entertainment and commerce seamlessly intertwine.

For all PYMNTS retail coverage, subscribe to the daily Retail Newsletter.