Walmart Retail Media Business Co-Creator: Changes Brands Should Expect

When Moloco Vice President of Retail Media Business Nikhil Raj first arrived at Walmart about 15 years ago, company executives were trying to analyze and determine how to support reporting based on what suppliers sold in stores and online. 

Walmart wanted to connect online and offline reporting for advertising, with companies such as Procter & Gamble.

“That simple idea became WMX,” Nikhil says, referring to Walmart Exchange. “We wanted to get a holistic view, not only on Walmart, but elsewhere across the web.”

Nikhil was on the co-founding leadership team for Walmart Labs through the acquisition of Kosmix.

He started Walmart’s retail media business -- WMX at that time -- which reached $2.7 billion in fiscal year 2023. Walmart’s advertising business eventually was folded into Walmart Connect. 



Nikhil joined Moloco, a machine learning-powered ad-technology startup with a founding team of former YouTube and Google execs, in June 2023.

When asked how retail media will affect search, Nikhil points to margins. “Margins on ads from your own website are 100%, but margins on ads not on your site are 10%,” he says. “You need to build a 10 times larger business off site to match the margin impact of what you build onsite.”

Search -- the largest driver of onsite ad revenue -- should be a focus, so retailers can maximize onsite revenue and maximize margins, Nikhil says.

Companies can no longer do search ads just “to get by.” A key element in success with with retail media is the continued investment in search, despite studies that say more than half of retail media’s revenue will come from search advertising.

Nikhil believes retail media has entered a new market in which major retailers have begun to take control of their advertising business. Although these companies had been content with outsourcing technology and ad sales, they are beginning to bring ad sales in-house.

“Retailers have realized that they have outsource key relationships, ad sales -- and within the next three to five years, bring them back in house,” he says. “Very few companies have the ability to build all the technology in-house, so they will continue to outsource it.”

Pure-play technology companies that can support the ad stack and software will begin to take more share from those that offer ad sales and technology.

Where will retailers find the talent to support ad sales?

“If you look at advertising sales teams at Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, these companies have been very careful to protect their talent, but they are still losing people to retailers,” Nikhil says. “It's very clear where the talent is coming from.”




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