Walmart Overhauls Media Unit in Push to Become Ad Titan

Walmart Inc. plans to ramp up growth in its digital media business as the world’s largest retailer seeks to become a top-ten advertising platform in the U.S. within five years.

The media group, which will be renamed Walmart Connect, will offer targeted ads on e-commerce platforms such as Walmart.com and the Walmart app to shoppers as they’re purchasing in real time, the company said Thursday in a statement. Walmart will also allow brands to advertise on almost 170,000 digital screens at self-checkout kiosks and on TV walls in more than 4,500 stores.

With a major brick-and-mortar footprint tied to a growing e-commerce business, Walmart is trying to position itself as a premier destination for companies to advertise wherever -- and however -- a customer chooses to shop. “We’ve built a substantial business that can serve clients in a way no one else can,” Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside said in the statement.

Walmart Connect is another installment in the company’s long-running bid to diversify its income away from its core operations. The move comes as the company seeks to simplify its shopping experience to better compete with Amazon.com Inc. while enhancing the reach of its advertising clients. Last fiscal year, Walmart’s digital advertising operations nearly doubled in revenue and signed up more than twice the number of advertisers from a year earlier, the company said.

Walmart shares rose less than 1% at 9:39 a.m. in New York.

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