As the 2022 holiday season kicks into high gear, retail analysts are watching closely how much consumers will spend during a time of inflation. But it’s equally fascinating to understand how people shop. Walmart Connect, Walmart’s fast-growing advertising arm, believes that holiday shopping online – indeed all shopping online — will increasingly happen via social media, television commerce (t-commerce), and livestreaming. That’s one reason that Walmart Connect has expanded its advertising partner program to encompass social apps such as TikTok and streaming platforms such as TalkShopLive.
What Is the Walmart Advertising Partner Program?
Walmart Connect wants to help businesses advertise across the digital world beyond Walmart.com. To do that, Walmart Connect’s partnership program works with platforms to help brands scale, automate, and optimize their Walmart Connect advertising. These include partners that make it possible for Walmart Connect to expand self-service advertising through an application programming interface (API). Those API partners can be found here.
The partnership program is becoming more important to Walmart as it positions itself as a strong retailer-based ad platform alternative to Amazon Ads. And Walmart says the program is increasingly delivering value. For example, when BirdRock Brands turned to Pacvue (an enterprise software suite for eCommerce advertising) to scale its manual Walmart Sponsored Products campaigns, BirdRock was able to help design a campaign that ultimately experienced a return on ad spend 11 percent greater than its target, and an 83 percent increase in sales quarter over quarter.
What Did Walmart Announce About Its Advertising Partner Program?
Walmart has added a slew of advertising partners known as innovation partners. According to Walmart, these innovation partners will provide test-and-learn opportunities with formats such as social, entertainment, and live streaming throughout the entire holiday season. The newly expanded offering includes additional touchpoints and channels to reach customers wherever they are with new ad formats:
- TikTok: this partnership provides an opportunity for advertisers to connect with potential shoppers on the red-hot TikTok platform. As Walmart noted, more than 50 percent of TikTok users say they watch ads on their feed instead of scrolling past them. The first-to-market pilot between TikTok and Walmart Connect will provide advertisers with the opportunity to serve in-feed ads on TikTok. This will leverage TikTok’s sound-on full screen video format together with Walmart Connect’s targeting and measurement.
- Snap: the partnership with Snap enables advertisers to buy ad units including augmented reality, Collection Ads and Snap Ads through Walmart Connect and take advantage of the Walmart Connect’s geo-based measurement. This is the first time advertisers can buy Snap ad units through Walmart Connect and get in front of the unique Snapchat audience (75 percent of 13-34 year-olds in the U.S.), who hold over $1.9 trillion in spending power.
- Firework: this partnership enables supplier-funded shoppable livestreams and short shoppable videos on Walmart.com/live. Walmart Connect is testing how brands can leverage Firework’s capabilities to create premium, engaging, mobile-first video experiences and, to start, has partnered with Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble.
- TalkShopLive: Walmart Connect is expanding its relationship with TalkShopLive to partnership enable supplier-funded shoppable livestreams on Walmart.com/live, TalkShopLive’s platform, brand and publisher sites, as well as across the web. Walmart Connect is testing how brands can amplify their content and connect with shoppers at scale. To start, it has already executed livestreams with Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Samsung, among others.
- Roku: Walmart wants to help make TV streaming the next e-commerce shopping destination. Walmart touts Roku as America’s Number One TV streaming platform (citing Hypothesis Group research). So, Walmart has become the exclusive retailer to enable streamers on Roku to purchase featured products and have the transactions fulfilled by the chain. Walmart Connect will connect brands to customers through the Roku platform, and checkout will be seamless for customers, while advertisers receive insights on effectiveness via Walmart Connect measurement.
In announcing these partnerships, Walmart discussed how online search and shopping has become more diversified especially in the post-pandemic age. Seth Dallaire, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, Walmart U.S., wrote in a blog post:
Consumers who turned to online shopping during the pandemic have chosen to stay there, with those returning to in-store relying on online research to guide their decisions. Consumers realized the importance of “connection” and were forced to adapt and connect in new ways including social feeds, livestreaming, mobile and more, specifically across video and connected TV. In fact, the predicted growth of social commerce from 10% of all e-commerce to 17% by 2025 will be driven by Gen Z and millennial consumers and nearly two-thirds (64%) of social media users — an estimated 2 billion social buyers — said they made a purchase on social media in the past year.
Now, Walmart Connect intends to do its part in connecting social media discovery to actual sales. So far, Walmart Connect’s partnerships have been hands-on in nature. Brands get custom reporting about their campaigns, based on activations on Walmart.com’s live shopping, TikTok, Snap, and Roku. But Seth Dallaire told Advertising Age that the partnership program expanding to the point where it would be more automated and widely available within Walmart Connect, so that brands could better target ads on social media and connected TV.
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For Further Insight
“Why Walmart Connect Is Winning,” Tim Colucci, February 25, 2022.
“Why Retailers Are Launching Ad Businesses,” Tim Colucci, January 11, 2022.
“Walgreens Doubles Down on Its Advertising Business,” Tim Colucci, May 19, 2021.
“Amazon Unveils New Ad Units Across Its Ecosystem,” Kurt Anagnostopoulos, May 4, 2021.
“Why Macy’s Launched an Advertising Platform,” Tim Colucci, March 3, 2021.
“Walmart Asserts Its Leadership in Advertising,” Tim Colucci, February 8, 2021.