retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning about what appears to be an enormously successful collaboration between Walmart and Facebook that seems to have served both its purposes - it drove sales for Walmart, and made Facebook look like a revenue-generating entity that made it more attractive to investors.

According to the story, it all started on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the traditional beginning of the end-of-year holiday shopping season: "Over the next 72 hours Facebook and Wal-Mart rolled out the social network's biggest mobile-advertising campaign ever, consisting of 50 million ads. Wal-Mart's discounted deals on toys and televisions popped up in the Facebook mobile news feeds of tens of millions of people.

"Unlike previous campaigns, for which companies paid Facebook only after users saw their ads, Wal-Mart prepurchased the ads and edged out other retailers for space during the all-important kickoff to the holiday shopping season.

"Facebook now is considering making the option available to other companies." And, the story says, Facebook is "trying to deepen relationships with some of the world's biggest advertisers by tailoring ads to those companies and using those brands as labs to test new ad products. That allows Facebook to experiment with ad areas where it has been weak, such as mobile advertising."

The story goes on: "For Wal-Mart, too, there is much to be gained by working with Facebook. After playing catch-up to Inc. for the last decade, the world's largest retailer doesn't want to fall behind online as customers increasingly rely on digital devices ... Using Facebook helped Wal-Mart make some quick changes. When Wal-Mart saw a pair of $88 speakers weren't selling as quickly as expected on Friday, it posted the item on its Facebook page as a 'special buy.' Wal-Mart said the item soon sold out across the U.S."
KC's View:
This is a harbinger of how things are going to work in the future, as retailers team up with tech companies to fund new ways to reach consumers and affect their behavior - and, perhaps most importantly, find out instantly which moves work and which do not, as well as which customers respond, and which do not. It is all about having fast, actionable information and then using it ... and as I've said here before, it is the marketers who can do this best that are likely to be the long-term winners.