Walmart Asserts Its Leadership in Advertising

Walmart Asserts Its Leadership in Advertising

Walmart

Walmart is thinking big.

After a year during which the world’s largest retailer doubled ad revenue, Walmart is partnering with advertising technology company The Trade Desk to build a new advertising platform. The goal? To make Walmart an even bigger player in the advertising landscape than it is today, and take on rival Amazon as an advertising leader. Read on to learn more.

What’s In A Name?

The initiative begins with a name change. Janey Whiteside, chief consumer officer at Walmart, has announced that the retailer is rebranding its media business. Goodbye Walmart Media Group. Hello Walmart Connect. The new name hints at the sea changes in Walmart’s approach to advertising, including an expansion that links the retailer’s advertising business to in-store media.

Walmart Connect

It’s a canny move. While many retailers ignore their physical properties by conflating digital with online-only, Walmart is integrating digital with brick-and-mortar, in the process competing with Amazon’s muscular online presence. According to Reuters, the retailer will sell ads on more than 170,000 screens—including televisions and self-checkout kiosk screens—located inside more than 4,500 U.S. stores. Mark Boidman, managing director and head of media and tech services at the independent investment bank and financial services company PJ Solomon, believes the plan has promise. He notes:

The ability to use on-premise media, and in particular digital signage and digital out-of-home media, allows brands and retailers to be reactive and provide contextually relevant content and advertising, Think coffee promotions in the morning or marketing hot chocolate or snow shovels ahead of a big snow storm.

That means the messaging can’t — and won’t — be one-size fits all. After all, shoppers in Florida are unlikely to relate to snow shovel ads at any time. Walmart understands this; as reported in Ad Age, brand messages will be delivered specific to date, time, and geography.

Part of Walmart’s initiative also capitalizes on the company’s access to in-store and online shopper data. As the Wall Street Journal reports, this trove of data may well give Walmart’s demand-side platform an advantage over that of rival ad sellers, and help the company effectively compete for a bigger share of marketer dollars.

Implications of Walmart Connect for Brands

Walmart wants to share its data riches — with brands. By doing so, Walmart creates a win-win situation in which consumer needs are anticipated and marketers can remain agile in the face of changing need. “Walmart is pioneering a new frontier in digital advertising, providing marketers with access to shopper data for the first time, in a way that both protects consumer privacy and improves the consumer experience, Jeff Green, CEO and co-founder of The Trade Desk, noted in a statement. “In doing so, marketers will be able to create much more refined, relevant and measurable advertising campaigns, which can be adapted on the fly.”

What would that adaptation look like? For starters, marketers can target ads to audiences based on data about shopping behavior. In addition, advertisers can monitor sales in brick-and-mortar Walmart stores in real time, subsequently tweaking marketing campaigns as needed.

“We have this unparalleled source of data that we can bring to bear,” Whiteside says. “Who else can actually tell you if a customer saw something online and then a week later, physically bought it in the store?”

Smarter Advertising across the Web

Walmart isn’t just sharing data with brands available in Walmart stores. The company’s demand-side platform will allow brands not even sold at Walmart to use the trove of data — for a price — to better understand consumer habits, and subsequently craft messaging appropriate to those shoppers. In the past, most advertisers used the company’s data to expose shoppers to ads on Walmart properties — Walmart’s website and app, for example. The retailer means to expand that reach across the entire Web.

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In-store digital advertising. Capitalizing on consumer data so that both brands and shoppers benefit. In its aspirations to be a media powerhouse, Walmart is thinking outside the box to bring digital advertising to the next level.

Learn more about our expertise with Walmart Connect here.

Walmart Takes Aim at Amazon, Facebook, and Google with Online Advertising

Walmart Takes Aim at Amazon, Facebook, and Google with Online Advertising

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When Walmart recently announced that it was joining Microsoft in a bid for TikTok, the news had many people scratching their heads. But the bid makes perfect sense in context of Walmart’s growing online advertising business, an aspect of the Walmart empire that is beginning to catch more attention among brands. Read on to learn more.

The Growth of Walmart Advertising

You might not know it, but Walmart operates its own digital advertising business under Walmart Media Group. Under CEO Doug McMillon, Walmart Media Group has been building an advertising business to compete with Amazon, Google, and Facebook (the Big Three of online advertising). As reported in The Wall Street Journal, “deep-pocketed companies with large amounts of data on their customers are in the best position to mount a challenge” to these competitors.

Walmart feels ready to play in that sandbox. The retail behemoth aims to tap into its own trove of shopper data (about purchases made both online and in brick-and-mortar stores), and sell advertising services to businesses with products in Walmart stores and across the entire digital world, on sites including Walmart.com. As Steve Bratspies, the chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S., has noted, data can give advertisers a leg up by providing insight into what a consumer might really want and need.

For example, as noted in The Wall Street Journal, a customer might buy a bicycle in a Walmart store, then subsequently see ads for bike helmets on platforms like Facebook. The ads would direct the shopper back to Walmart.com to make the purchase. It’s a win/win, with consumer needs being anticipated and met, and brands making the connection to a motivated shopper.

Walmart’s Advertising Services

How does Walmart propose to make those connections? The retailer currently offers advertisers services such as:

  • Sponsored Products ads, which consumers encounter when they are browsing Walmart.com. These ads can take many forms:
    • A brand’s products can get premium placement on the first page of a shopper’s search results.
    • An advertiser’s logo might appear, along with a custom headline, at the top of relevant search results.
    • Products can appear as part of a product carousel of relevant alternate purchase options.
    • Items can be highlighted in a “Buy Box” as the most relevant alternate purchase option on a product detail page.

Walmart Sponsored Product Ad

  • Visually compelling display ads, which keep a brand in the forefront:
    • Across Walmart’s digital properties. Content and advertising can be seamlessly merged on Walmart.com, pickup and delivery, and Walmart apps.
    • Offsite, across the web and social channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. As noted earlier, relevant ads will re-engage customers and send them back to Walmart for products.

Walmart Display Ad

Where Does TikTok Fit into All This?

Walmart’s motivation for acquiring TikTok probably has much to do with digital ad dollars. As Mark Sullivan of Fast Company points out, TikTok is a prime space for digital advertising. And Walmart clearly recognizes that, sharing in a statement that TikTok might represent “an important way for us to reach and serve omnichannel customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace and advertising businesses.”

Sullivan elaborates:

TikTok is itself in the early stages of selling ads on its app, and it has data on people’s video content choices, but it lacks data on the things people buy. If Walmart owned TikTok it could use its ecommerce user data to help advertisers put ads in front of the right TikTok users. And Walmart could be the exclusive seller of targeted ad space on TikTok.

One advertising industry insider told me that a brand—say a car company—might use a cookie to capture data on a consumer that came to its site to look at cars, then use Walmart’s ad-tech to show an ad to that same consumer on TikTok.

If Walmart had an ownership stake in TikTok, Walmart could connect its advertisers with TikTok’s young demographic, too. And let’s face it — TikTok is hot. In early August 2020, the video-sharing social networking service reported about 100 million monthly active U.S. users, a figure that is up nearly 800 percent from January 2018. Walmart clearly sees the opportunities inherent in connecting its brands with that audience.

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