Walmart, the US mega-retailer, has announced the launch of a self-serve portal through which users can buy on-site search and sponsored product ads as well as an API that makes its inventory available across several partners.

This is according to a blog post on the company’s site by Lex Josephs, VP, Sales and Media Partnerships, at Walmart Media Group, the company’s advertising division, in which access through four technology partners including Teikametrics, Kenshoo, Pacvue, and Flywheel (which is owned by Ascential, the parent company of WARC).

Additionally, Joseph announced the launch of the “Walmart Advertising Partners program to expand advertisers’ direct access to their Sponsored Products campaigns, a bidded auction-based marketplace, giving them more transparency and control.” Before, brands could only buy inventory through managed service.

The news represents one of the most significant expansion of the company’s advertising product since it acquired the supply-side ad stack firm Polymorph Labs last April.

Of course, these are mostly small steps in a larger battle with the other major American retail company carving out a presence in advertising: Amazon. Both competitors enjoy vast amounts of retail data and with it the promise of being able to fully attribute advertising activity and expenditure to sales effects – in some interpretations, it would represent the holy grail of advertising.

E-commerce retailers possess rich user data, including all-important ‘signals of intent’ from previous search behaviour. Physical retailers have an additional advantage in the form of insights into in-store purchase activity. Combined with brands’ own first-party data, this assists the placement of highly-targeted native search ads for products which can be purchased in digital or physical environments.

As yet, however, Walmart’s host of retail data isn’t available for ad targeting; though the capability doesn’t exist, however, the company’s expansion into this area indicates advertiser interest, along with the growing field of e-commerce media, which WARC has covered previously.

Sourced from Walmart, WARC