Research Briefing: Walmart will beef up its retail media network with Vizio acquisition

This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

Interested in sharing your perspectives on the media and marketing industries? Join the Digiday research panel.

In this week’s Digiday+ Research Briefing, we examine how Walmart’s impending acquisition of Vizio will bolster its Walmart Connect retail media offering, how agencies’ use of AI will be a hot topic at next week’s Media Buying Summit in Nashville, and how advertisers continue to be impacted by layoffs at Meta, as seen in recent data from Digiday+ Research.

70% of brands and retailers and 44% of agencies use retail media

Walmart is set to acquire smart TV manufacturer Vizio for $2.3 billion in a deal that is expected to close by Jan. 31, 2025. The move will bolster Walmart’s retail media offering, Walmart Connect, adding streaming capabilities that will help it attract more brand marketing ad dollars. The deal will also allow Walmart to add to its existing data at a time when the rapid growth of retail media has made the space more competitive and Amazon continues its effort to get a bigger slice of the market.

Retail media is the third most-used marketing channel among brands, retailers and agency clients, after No. 1 social media and No. 2 display advertising, according to a recent survey by Digiday+ Research. Seventy percent of brand and retailer professionals said their companies use retail media (including Amazon) as a marketing channel, while 44% of agency professionals said their clients use retail media marketing.

Marketers and ad buyers see the Walmart-Vizio match-up as a way for the retailer to bridge the gap between brand and retail ad dollars as well as boost Walmart Connect’s distribution and scale by bringing it into new homes. Vizio collects data from 23 million opted-in devices, and 18 million of those are through SmartCast, the company’s smart TV operating system. The potential for Walmart Connect to enhance targeting and measurement capabilities by using Vizio’s ACR (automatic content recognition) data is appealing, according to buyers.

Retail media appears to have the most untapped potential as a marketing channel, especially among brand marketers. Overall, Digiday’s survey found a big difference between the percentage of marketers who use retail media as a marketing channel and the percentage of those who said retail media accounts for a high portion of their marketing budgets and who said they’re most confident retail media drives marketing success. In other words, there’s lots of room for retail media to grow.

Insights and stats:

  • While 70% of brands and retailers are using retail media as a marketing channel, around half of brand and retailer pros (42%) said their companies put the highest portion of their marketing budgets toward retail media, and 45% said their companies have the most confidence that retail media drives marketing success compared with other channels.
  • “Vizio has a ridiculous platform of information and Walmart has their ridiculous arsenal of information, meaning data, so marrying those things together, obviously gives some opportunity.” — Jennifer Kohl, chief media officer at VML 
  • Agencies don’t seem sold on retail media marketing just yet. While 44% of agency pros told Digiday their clients use retail media as a marketing channel, just one-quarter (25%) said retail media accounts for the highest portion of their clients’ marketing budgets. And 27% said they have the most confidence that the channel drives marketing success compared with other channels.

Read more about where different channels stand with marketers

Digiday+ Research digest

Digiday is hosting its twice-yearly Media Buying Summit in Nashville next week, with a cast of speakers and presenters including holding company executives, independent media agency leaders, clients and ad-tech experts. In addition to topics like retail media and DEI, we’ll be discussing how influencer agencies are picking up on AI. Some are investing in building their own AI tools and creator databases, while others are working to expand their content strategies and develop new forms of metrics to quantify creator impact and revenue. Overall, a Q3 2023 Digiday+ Research survey found that 85% of agencies were already using AI technology.

The stats:

  • Seventy-two percent of agency pros told Digiday that their companies are using generative AI applications like OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
  • Forty-six percent of agency pros said their companies use generative AI, specifically, for internal applications, compared with 13% who said they use it for customer-facing ones.
  • Only 15% of agency pros said their companies were not yet utilizing AI technology.

Read more about agencies’, brands’ and publishers’ use of AI

Advertisers continue to be impacted — and in some cases frustrated — by layoffs at Meta, in which account team members have been replaced by AI. A number of marketers feel that they aren’t getting the premium service they believe they’re paying for as ad execs encounter bugs on the platform, while teams and services are gradually being stripped away and replaced with AI and chatbots. And when it comes to agencies and their clients, Meta’s Facebook and Instagram may be past their primes, according to Digiday+ Research surveys of about 200 agency professionals in 2021, 2022 and 2023. (Look for our deep dive into the 2024 data in the coming weeks.)

Insights and stats:

  • “[The client] felt like they deserved that [Meta] team because of how much they spend with Meta, but had to admit they didn’t actually need it.” — An agency executive, who preferred to remain anonymous to protect their client relationship
  • Agencies’ use of Meta’s platforms took a big hit last year. Fifty percent of agency pros said in 2023 that they posted content to Facebook on behalf of their clients in the past month, down from 81% in 2022. Meanwhile, 65% of agency pros said in 2023 they posted on Instagram on behalf of clients in the past month, down from 84% in 2022.
  • Agency clients were also posting on Facebook and Instagram far less frequently last year compared with previous years. Fourteen percent of agency pros said in 2023 that their clients post content on Facebook every day, compared with 40% in 2022. Meanwhile, 17% of agency pros said in 2023 that their clients post on Instagram every day, compared with 40% in 2022.

Read more about agencies’ use of Meta’s platforms

See research from all Digiday Media Brands:

Digiday+ Research

Glossy+ Research

Modern Retail+ Research

More in Marketing

Why angel investor Matthew Ball still believes in the metaverse

Matthew Ball’s 2022 book “The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything” was a national bestseller in the U.S. and U.K. On July 23, he plans to publish the second edition of the book.

Marketing Briefing: Why sustainability is ‘not a priority’ for marketers right now

Anecdotally, there have been noticeably fewer requests from marketers on ways to market sustainability efforts in recent months, according to agency execs, who say that requests had been commonplace in the late 2010s and early 2020s. 

‘We’re watching the war’: Tubi hits growth spurt, but isn’t part of the streaming wars, CMO Nicole Parlapiano says

On the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Tubi CMO Nicole Parlapiano shares her perspective on the so-called streaming wars, pitching Tubi’s multicultural viewers and the streaming platform’s growth track.