Good afternoon, BFM, and welcome to this week’s edition of 5 for Friday. Read on for just five of the best stories that grabbed our attention this week!

Walmart Embraces VR as Employee Training Initiative Kicks Off

Workplace training is among the many use cases for virtual reality (VR), and loads of intrepid enterprises are continuing to jump on that bandwagon.

Following an announcement made in 2017, big box retailer Walmart has begun to deliver Oculus Go headsets to its supercenters and Neighborhood Markets. Targeting nearly 5,000 locations  across the country, the devices will be used to provide employees with instruction more often.

Approximately 17,000 headsets are expected to be shipped. According to Oculus’ head of business partnerships, Andy Mathis, the “benefit from VR’s ability to enrich employee education, and its applications will only grow. What makes it so compelling,” he added, “is that costly, difficult, or otherwise impossible scenarios and simulations become not only possible, but immediately within reach.”

For Walmart’s part, they’re banking on employee enthusiasm rubbing off on customers who, in many cases, have yet to deem the technology useful.

Amazon is Now the #3 Platform for Online Advertising

While trailing the likes of Google and Facebook, eCommerce stalwart Amazon is expected to “more than double” its U.S. digital advertising revenues this year.

According to a report published by eMarketer, it’s estimated that marketers will have spent some $4.61 billion (or 4.1% of all digital ad spending in the country) on Amazon’s platform by the end of year.

While that might seem like a drop in the bucket for a company that’s forecasted to post more than $230 billion in revenue this year, that number is still significant and a clear single of growth (and opportunity!) to come.

Alleged Bad Practices Put Havas in Hot Water with the Feds

Pending an investigation into “non-transparent ad-buying practices,” French multi-national Havas has reportedly been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the agency is being cited for receiving rebates from media outlets, among other concerns. Havas, which is owned by Vivendi SA, declined to comment.

In related news, stock prices for Vivendi SA (Havas’ holding company) and its rivals (Interpublic, Omnicom, and WPP) dropped following the publication of the WSJ’s article. 

New Google Tool Helps Brands Quantify the Impact of Video Advertising

Google has unveiled a new metric that will allow marketers to measure the impact video ads have on the number of searches on their platform and YouTube.

Announced Wednesday, it’s all part of a larger strategy to expand Google's Brand Lift metric to all video advertising across its media properties.

Designed to help advertisers assess brand interest, the tool will also enable marketers to segment reports by audiences, creatives, and publishers to better understand what’s working.

Tech Giants Face Senate Committee Over Data Privacy… Again

Tech luminaries faced the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation again this week, as hearings related to consumer privacy reconvened.

Assembled to discuss the definition of a federal law, leaders from Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Twitter, AT&T and Charter Communications  participated in the testimony in rounds of questioning centered on what should (and shouldn’t) be considered, and whether or not the precedents (like EU’s GDPR or California's recently passed consumer privacy law) should be viewed as guides.

Expressing consensus that a federal privacy law (versus a patchwork of laws set by various states) is necessary, all agreed that “clarity and consistency” across multiple services is paramount. That said, they seemed less aligned on the finer points such as enforcement, requirements and penalties for violations. Surprisingly, no consumer advocacy groups were asked to the table.