Just five years ago Walmart opened up its marketplace to third-party merchants. Since then the number of sellers using its platform jumped from 500 to more than 125000. Now the company is taking advantage of this massive client base by expanding its retail media options.
In early 2021 the Walmart Media Group became Walmart Connect. And within five years the company wants to become one of the world's biggest advertising platforms.
Here's everything brands need to know about Walmart Connect and its new advertising options.
What is Walmart Connect?
Walmart Connect is a retail media platform which offers advertisers an opportunity to reach Walmart shoppers online in the app and across its brick-and-mortar locations.
To coincide with its rebrand Walmart Connect enhanced its advertising options and launched its very own demand-side platform. This allows advertisers to promote their products across a selection of third-party websites too.
Walmart Connect has also improved its system of closed loop measurement which means brands now have a complete view of both online and offline shopper behavior.
With150 million weekly customers from around 90% of American households Walmart is the largest retailer and the second largest eCommerce company in the US. By taking full advantage of its omnichannel presence Walmart presents brands with a unique media offering.
As brands prepare for a cookieless future and expand their advertising beyond Amazon Walmart Connect is only going to get bigger.
The three strategic areas of Walmart Connect
When the Walmart Media Group rebranded as Walmart Connect the company set out its vision for the future. By focusing on these three key areas it plans to win over brands and bring them closer to their target audiences.
1. Ever-growing digital ad options
Walmart is using its native digital properties to reach consumers in a variety of new ways.
Through Walmart.com the Walmart app and even its pickup and delivery services Walmart Connect offers holistic ad campaigns which can promote your products at every stage of the modern consumer journey- from initial product awareness through to nurturing loyalty.
Advertisers can reach shoppers with search or display ads just before conversion and at other highly influential moments.
2. Innovative in-store experiences
With almost 170000 screens placed throughout its 4500 brick-and-mortar stores Walmart Connect now allows brands to reach consumers as they shop in-store.
Display ads appear across store TV walls and on self-checkout screens. Product sampling promotions are an option too.
Walmart Connect is also experimenting with other in-store advertising opportunities. For example it recently provided ad spots at its free drive-in movies and family-friendly Halloween events.
3. Off-site media opportunities
Walmart Connect also allows advertisers to leverage its extensive first-party data to improve ad performance beyond its own channels.
Through the Walmart Connect demand-side platform brands can promote their products on third-party sites. This innovative DSP allows brands to target consumers using past purchase data and predictive audience segments. In other words Walmart Connect can precisely target shoppers when they're on another website. Retargeting is even an option.
The Walmart Connect DSP is open to all brands including those that don't sell products through Walmart.
What advertising options does Walmart Connect offer?
From in-store displays to search result placements a Walmart product ad can come in many different forms. Here's an overview of what's available to brands.
Walmart Connect Search ads
With these keyword-based ads your products will appear prominently in search results on Walmart.com or in the Walmart app. They allow brands to reach relevant consumers as they actively search for products.
There are two types of search ads: Walmart Sponsored Products and Search Brand Amplifier. With Walmart Sponsored Products your ad can appear within search results on a related product's page or in a pre-checkout reminder.
With Search Brand Amplifier ads a selection of your products will appear at the very top of Walmart's search results - along with your logo and a custom headline. This is a great way to boost brand recognition and visibility for up to three products at a time.
Walmart Connect Display ads
To boost awareness and motivate purchases brands can strategically place display ads across Walmart.com the Walmart app and third-party websites.
Consumers are targeted based on their Walmart shopping history. So whether your audience is shopping on Walmart or browsing social media you'll be able to provide a consistent experience.
Walmart In-store ads
Remind shoppers about the benefits of your products as they browse physical Walmart stores. You can also drive the message home at the point of purchase.
Walmart Connects closed loop tracking will even be able to tell you if an ad on its self-checkout screen led to conversion later on.
Experiential retail is an exciting retail innovation trend for 2022and Walmart offers brands a variety of ways to take advantage of it.
Through unique store events and product sampling brands can create memorable experiences and nurture loyalty among their target audience. Walmart Connect also has a 'Content-to-Commerce' feature which brings brands and influencers together to create highly engaging native content.
How to get started with Walmart Connect
Getting started with Walmart Connect is easy. To sign up you just need to fill out a short form with some key information including your contact details some basic business information and your tax ID.
Walmart Connect is only available to a select number of brands right now so you may need to wait a while. However access will be extended in the near future.
It's also worth noting that if you'd like to create Walmart sponsored products or sign up for in-store promotions your products need to be sold at Walmart.
Tips for your Walmart Connect advertising
With so many different ad types available there's a lot to learn about Walmart Connect. But here are three simple tips to help you optimize your campaigns.
1.Understand how shoppers use different Walmart channels
It's a good idea to promote your Walmart sponsored products both in-store and on its website.
Advertisers are often reluctant to place ads offline where it is difficult to track their ROI. However according to Walmart's research 48% of its shoppers are most receptive to new brands while shopping in-store. 45% say the same about browsing Walmart.com.
Similarly 51% of shoppers head to Walmart's website when seeking product inspiration while 47% go to a store. It would appear that these placements are significantly more effective than ads in the app or at pickup points.
2. Use automated rules for search ad campaigns
Walmart Connect recently introduced automated rules which allows brands to save time and optimise their Walmart product ad campaigns. They can now set up automatic notifications and budget adjustments.
Brands can create performance notifications that highlight when a campaign hits its daily budget or when its ROAS drops below a certain amount. You can also enable Walmart Connect to increase or decrease your budget when certain conditions are met. For example if a campaign's ROAS is low you could halve your daily budget.
3. Use frequency caps
In the demand-side platform brands can now control how many times a Walmart product ad appears across each campaign touchpoint. Implemented at campaign level frequency caps are a great way to reduce costs and avoid annoying shoppers who aren't engaging with your ads.
Not a week goes by without Walmart announcing a new innovation. The retailer is trialing micro-fulfillment embracing automation and was even the first retailer to use Twitter's livestream shopping. The future is bright for Walmart and it's just a matter of time before Walmart Connect becomes an essential part of every brand's eCommerce marketing strategy.