Walmart Bolsters Advertising Business with Vizio Acquisition

Walmart is acquiring Vizio in a deal valued at $2.3 billion. The retail giant is following a template established by Amazon by expanding into entertainment media and connected TV advertising. The majority of Vizio’s growth from the last five years has come from ads on its WatchFree+ platform, which offers more than 260 channels, Walmart said touting a deal point. Vizio’s primary business is manufacturing value-priced TV sets. It also makes soundbars. The deal will instantly vault Walmart into a mix of players including Amazon, Roku, Samsung Ads and Google’s YouTube.

The union, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to accelerate Walmart’s U.S. media business, called Walmart Connect, which helps brands connect with Walmart’s millions of weekly shoppers via the retailer’s online presence. The deal is expected to bring “together Vizio’s advertising solutions business with Walmart’s reach and capabilities,” Walmart said in an announcement, adding that “Walmart’s industry-leading TV panel sales” will also add value.

“Walmart already has an existing Onn in-house brand of TVs, but owning Vizio will help the retailer better compete with affordable smart TVs from the likes of Amazon and Roku,” writes The Verge, running down a Walmart TV history that includes a 2023 partnership with Innovid “to run personalized ads on TVs,” and previous agreement with Roku to run “‘shoppable ads’ that let consumers buy Walmart goods directly from their TVs.”

“Globally, Walmart’s ad revenue grew by 28 percent to $3.4 billion for its 2024 fiscal year ended in January,” reports Variety, which quotes New Street Research analyst Dan Salmon on the deal, saying it “would have the added benefit of creating an offering that is more attractive to non-endemic advertisers (i.e. beyond third-party sellers transacting on Walmart Marketplace)” to brands that don’t currently sell through Walmart but might want to reach Vizio’s TV viewership.

“The acquisition of Vizio and its SmartCast operating system would enable Walmart to connect with and serve its customers in new ways including innovative television and in-home entertainment and media experiences,” Walmart said. “Vizio has more than 500 direct advertiser partnerships, thanks to its Vizio Platform Plus business,” according to The Verge, which says SmartCast is “used by more than 18 million active accounts.”

The sale agreement “comes months after Vizio gave its TV software a much-needed overhaul, with an improved modern homescreen experience for its range of TVs,” The Verge adds, explaining that such software differentiation “will be important as Vizio continues to compete against rivals like Hisense, TCL, and budget-priced Roku TVs.”

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