GLASGOW: Asda, the UK subsidiary of US retail giant Walmart, is laying down a challenge to traditional publishers with plans to launch its own fully operational private ad exchange that will include its grocery website.

The UK retailer is already selling display and video ads on three websites – the Asda storelocator site, the Asda Price Guarantee comparison site and Asda Direct – but wants to extend the offering to its grocery shopping site in the next few months.

Dom Burch, senior director of marketing innovation at Asda, told The Drum that the company wants to become a "credible publisher", similar to the Guardian or the Telegraph, "rather than just a retailer with a website selling banners to existing partners".

"What we'll be able to see over the next few months is which advertisers are highest performing and that will allow us to potentially go into private deals with them on the grocery site," he explained.

If trials are successful, Asda plans to establish its own fully operational private ad exchange by 2016 that would allow it to dispense with third party ad networks.

Ads on its three websites are currently sold via Google's DoubleClick for Publishers and a platform from Rubicon.

Burch said that 200,000 ad impressions were sold in the first few hours of launching the service. Competitors, such as Amazon and Tesco, have been blocked from buying ad space.

"Any digital advertiser worth their salt is asking for a greater degree of control and want to be able to optimise their creative in real time," Burch said. "We've discussed what would they require from their media buying perspective to have Asda as their media publisher."

Coinciding with news of Asda's initiative, The Drum also reported that the Association of Online Publishers (AOP), a trade body, has been in talks with British publishers to explore whether inventory could be pooled on a new private marketplace.

Although the idea is just in its early stages, the AOP confirmed that talks have been taking place and expressed confidence that, with the right planning and consultation, it could benefit the UK publishing sector.

Data sourced from The Drum; additional content by Warc staff