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

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

Advertising Amazon Facebook Google

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.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

Advertiser Q&A: Bing LinkedIn Profile Targeting

Advertiser Q&A: Bing LinkedIn Profile Targeting

Bing

Bing has been rolling out in beta mode a feature that makes it possible for businesses to target Bing advertisements by relying on LinkedIn data. The feature, known as LinkedIn profile targeting, is an example of how Microsoft is monetizing LinkedIn a few years after Microsoft purchased the popular business-to-business platform. In the following Q&A, we answer questions that our clients are asking about LinkedIn profile targeting. 

1 How does LinkedIn profile targeting work?

With this new feature, businesses running search campaigns in Bing can target people based on information they’ve shared on their LinkedIn profiles – specifically their industries, companies, and job functions.

So, let’s say I want to run an online search campaign targeting marketers in the financial service sector. I can target ads toward people who have identified themselves on LinkedIn with that specific job function in that particular vertical.

2 What’s the advantage to using Linked profile targeting?

According to Bing, LinkedIn profile targeting offers three advantages:

  • Relevance: LinkedIn can help you target the right audience. More-targeted audiences allow you to bid boost more precisely.
  • Ease of use: you can set up LinkedIn profile targeting in minutes.
  • Unique to Bing ads: Bing Ads is the only digital advertising platform (outside of LinkedIn) to offer LinkedIn profile targeting.

3 Who is a good match for LinkedIn profile targeting?

LinkedIn profile targeting is ideal for any business-to-business company. Bing can target:

  • 145 industries including consumer goods, hospitality, and financial services.
  • 80,000 companies such as Adobe, Disney, and Starbucks.
  • Job functions such as marketing, finance, and operations.

Also, this tool could be a more efficient way for smaller B2B companies who want to capitalize on LinkedIn but might find LinkedIn advertising products to be a too costly. LinkedIn profile targeting makes it possible for those businesses to capitalize on LinkedIn’s audience in a more cost-effective way.

4 What are the limitations of LinkedIn targeting?

  • The feature might not be as useful for consumer-facing firms.
  • The feature is based on job function (e.g., marketing), not title (e.g., CMO). So you can’t target people with specific titles.
  • LinkedIn profile targeting is based on information that LinkedIn users share about themselves. It’s only as accurate as the data people report.

5 I don’t use Bing. Why should I consider Bing in the first place?

Advertisers should consider Bing for a number of reasons. For example, the typical consumer on Bing spends more per purchase. My colleague Tim Colucci shared more reasons in an October blog post, “Why Advertisers Need Bing.” Check it out for more insight.

Plus, I believe there is much more value to LinkedIn profile targeting that I hope Bing will make available to advertisers soon. I would like to see Bing expand this new feature to include enhanced demographic/behavioral filtering. For instance, it would be useful if we could target certain interests and specific abilities/knowledge (either based on self-reported data or on post engagement) and maybe even years of experience. This capability would have a number of benefits. For instance, in the higher education space, universities could offer an operations management MBA program to target candidates with more than two years of experience who have field-related abilities like strong communication skills, and who share an interest in inventory forecasting, logistics, and quality control.

6 What should I do next if I am interested?

It’s a closed pilot. Not everyone can just do it. Reach out to your Bing representative or agency partner, such as True Interactive. Contact us. We’d love to help!