Walmart is serious about giving Amazon a run for its money online. It's so determined that the company bought a startup to help it compete in an unexpected business: online advertising.
The retailer on Thursday bought Polymorph Labs, a Silicon Valley startup that specializes in managing digital ads for brands. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Walmart said adding the startup's technology would enable current and potential advertisers to reach consumers more effectively.
The acquisition positions Walmart to compete with Amazon (AMZN), which became the country's third largest ad platform last year behind Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB).
"Our data has never been monetized, and we have a tiny ad business," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told analysts last year. "It could be bigger."
Walmart hopes its pitch to consumer brands will stick. It's playing up the fact that it has a huge network of physical stores that it can use to recruit brands. Walmart says it has a trove of shopper data because 90% of America shops at Walmart every year, and its website and stores attract nearly 160 million visitors a week.