You may know that Walmart improved its self-service ad platform with enhanced features and third-party API integrations. Have you thought about how the platform may fit into your digital marketing strategy? We will delve into the history of Walmart's advertising business, as well as the latest improvements, and see how their offerings fit in with your brand's goals.
About Walmart Media Group
Walmart Media Group is the advertising segment for the world's largest retail company. In recent years, the company has been moving into the digital advertising partner space, and marketers consider Walmart to be making strides in its ongoing effort to keep up with the big three digital advertisers: Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Amazon's advertising business pulled in $9.8 billion last year, and retail chains that sell primarily through brick-and-mortar stores grew web sales by 16.1%.
Walmart Acquires New Players
In April 2019, Walmart Media Group announced its acquisition of Polymorph, a tech startup company out of Silicon Valley. Founded in 2013, Polymorph innovated technology with a cloud-based, self-serve capability, including real-time, server-to-server auction bidding, and high-speed ad servers.
Walmart sought these technologies intending to create a marketing space that is less complicated for companies to use and one that allows them to target more relevant ads to their customers. The new self-serve platform permits advertisers to manage and direct their ad inventory across multiple channels.
Walmart Media Group has now made it easier for advertisers to learn the new system, to select their advertising targets based on their customers' shopping behavior, to automate delivery systems, and to determine what effect particular ads have on sales.
Walmart's Self-Serve Ad Platform
In January 2020, Walmart launched the self-service ad platform, providing marketers with the opportunity to buy both search and sponsored ads through an auction marketplace. The goal is to boost advertisers' power to focus ads directly to targeted customers at a specific time, based on their particular audiences' shopping behavior.
Once purchased, the ads appear on Walmart's sites, and customers will see them on Walmart's shopping applications. As planned, the technology also empowers marketers to measure how the ads impact sales and analyze how their campaigns benefit their bottom line. There is one caveat, however. To use the advertising platform, marketers must sell on the Walmart marketplace or be an existing Walmart supplier.
Walmart's April 2019 announcement about the acquisition of Polymorph boasted that 90% of Americans shop at Walmart each year. The statement also shared that the retailer welcomes nearly 160 million visitors each week, both in its brick-and-mortar stores and via the web. Consequently, the new ad platform gives marketers access to Walmart's formidable customer database, which includes substantial demographic data on both in-store and online shoppers. The data can also reveal whether customers bought the product in-store or online. Walmart further anticipates that the acquired platform will encompass new technologies, such as machine-learning for targeting and pricing.
Walmart's Third-Party API Integration
Walmart has inked deals with several third-parties, including Kenshoo, an expert in artificial intelligence (AI) tools. Marketers can integrate more in-depth reporting into their Walmart advertising program to boost their sponsored ad efforts. Further, Kenshoo allows marketers to see and manage — all in one place — their Walmart spending alongside their Amazon sponsored ads and their spending in their other marketing channels.
Tapping into Walmart's third-party API integrations allows companies to build ad campaigns of any size, convert to automatic systems, and otherwise make the most of their sponsored ads. Marketers may initiate and control their ad campaigns with more clarity, combine their media purchases with tracking and reporting tools, and get the most out of their trusted marketing partners.
The ability to manage accounts through a third-party API will be helpful for those wanting to scale their Walmart advertising accounts long-term. And, partnering with an advertising agency will produce better results than you could get by experimenting with the program yourself. You can leverage the improved Walmart advertising platforms with your agency as part of a broader digital strategy.
Walmart's Next Moves
One thing Walmart has that Amazon does not is physical stores. Walmart has years of experience in the offline world, and its customers have years of experience using Walmart's omnichannel markets. Therefore, Walmart presents marketers with the ability to bridge their marketing activities and their customers' purchases, whether those purchases are in the store or online. This network sets Walmart apart from its competitors and provides Walmart marketing partners with a more accurate picture of their ROI.
As Walmart expands its capabilities, brands should test, record, and analyze performance with their sponsored ads. Best marketing practices require that retailers diversify their ad buys across multiple channels, allowing for the chance to test which channels offer the highest conversion rate and maximize KPIs. The self-serve portal helps brands to test and learn with Walmart advertising better than ever before.
If your brand has a paid Amazon strategy, for example, you may find that adding Walmart ads into your mix of ad buys will help your overall strategy. It will allow you to diversify the dollars away from Amazon and avoid putting all your digital marketing eggs in one basket. As the platform continues to become more scalable, it will be interesting to see how Walmart steals ad spend away from the big three.
This news from Walmart is not surprising, as the ad platform has a lot of potential to make headway in the digital advertising space. And, you can anticipate that this self-serve platform won't be the last one to come along. That's just another reason that it makes sense to look before you leap. Test the waters to see how Walmart's ad platform fits into your media mix with the guidance of your digital marketing partners.
We're looking forward to seeing how the ad platform evolves and are excited to help our clients find success with the enhancements and API integrations. If you're looking for an agency to strategize and execute your Walmart marketing program, reach out, and our team of experts will be happy to help grow your business.