Attention, Walmart Shoppers

The retail giant has found an unexpected avenue to compete with Amazon   

Europe has long been more aggressively pro-consumer than the US when it comes to privacy laws. Is change afoot? Could Walmart hit Amazon in an unexpected way? Can anyone track TV ads anymore? There’s a lot to unpack this week. Let’s go.

God Save the Cookie

Brexit was about free trade, the free movement of people and, of course, freedom from cookie pop-ups.

OK, perhaps not on that last point. But in an interesting side note to the UK’s departure from the European Union, the country may seek to adopt a less stringent privacy law than GDPR and may even look to lighten the burden on users who have been annoyed by but generally inured to all those cookie acceptance pop-ups.

The UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told The Daily Telegraph that the country should have a new data protection law that protects consumer privacy “but does so in as light a way as possible.” Details are light, but Dowden described most of the pop-ups as “pointless” and described the reform of data protection rules as “one of the big prizes of leaving” the EU. That said, the Brits also announced a shakeup of the Information Commissioner’s Officer, which AdExchanger suggests could lead to an entirely new approach to data privacy.

One of the reasons UK leaders are rethinking matters is that VC investment is down in the nation, and they’d like to spur more adtech innovation, noted AdExchanger.

It remains to be seen how this will impact digital publishers and advertisers that operate globally, but one imagines that companies would err on the side of adhering to the strictest, most far-reaching laws, which for now are GDPR and whatever else US lawmakers come up with.

Everyday Walled Garden

Meanwhile, here in the US, one of America’s most ubiquitous retailers is prepping for a post-cookie world while following the Amazon ad playbook. Walmart, in a partnership with The Trade Desk, plans to roll out its own DSP this October, according to Ad Age. And the new product will be post-cookie two years ahead of schedule.

Who needs cookies when you have targeting data from real Walmart shoppers down to the individual product level? Brands will be able to use this first-party data to run ads all over the web, not just on Walmart’s site.

“That is not something that is really in the marketplace on a DSP,” says Rich Lehrfeld, senior VP, Walmart Connect.  Amazon, of course, may disagree. But Walmart’s offering sounds quite formidable. The company — once so reliant on physical stores — has been the beneficiary of an e-commerce boom. The question is, does it have a deep enough pool of first-party data to shake up the triopoly?

Shopify Spree

If anyone could build the post-cookie world’s greatest data ad network, it would seem to be Shopify, which powers a whole host of DTC and traditional shopping brands. The company has also quietly become the backbone of the social commerce universe, as its tech is integrated within Snapchat, Pinterest, Facebook, Google and now TikTok, reported AdExchanger. To be sure, that doesn’t mean that Shopify sells ads or inventory on these platforms or even makes all that much money.

Shopify doesn’t charge for the channel integrations, nor does it take a cut of media. But as the payment processor, the company does retain a small percentage of purchases.

That cut on its own could add up to a really nice chunk of change for Shopify. But long term, just imagine what they are learning about social commerce overall, as well as the nuances of each platform. There are potential privacy nightmares for sure, but it’s hard not to envision a much bigger ad or affiliate play in the offing.

TV Timeout

Over in the non-cookie, still fairly data-limited TV world, a revolution may be afoot, or not. NBCUniversal (NBCU) has been aggressively investing in programmatic tech and data-driven selling for years while still primarily making its living selling linear TV. Yet all the while, it’s been taking shots at Nielsen as it looks to sell itself as a more digital-forward media company, one that employs more modern metrics.

Now, NBCU is going beyond complaining and has contacted upward of 50 different metrics firms as it attempts to rally the ad industry to build an alternative to Nielsen, the ratings standard since the days of Leave It to Beaver.

It may take a while for this initiative to bear fruit, and NBCU is already facing skepticism from big brands, reports Business Insider. It seems as though marketers are on board with the idea of measuring TV ads differently, but they don’t like the idea of NBCU running the show.

“That has always been the issue with the walled gardens, and we want to make sure that the networks or the publishers don’t grade their own homework,” Paolo Provinciali, VP of US media and data at Anheuser-Busch InBev, told Insider.

Sound familiar? See you next time.