According to the Wall Street Journal, Walmart digital advertising is moving in-house. Though the retailer previously offered online ad services through a third party, Triad, the move shows that Walmart is getting serious about winning hard-fought ad dollars. The move puts them in direct competition with Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
What does this mean for the digital marketing landscape, and how should brands respond?
Walmart Digital Advertising in Context
Amazon: Rising Star in Digital Advertising
Digital advertising has historically been dominated by Google and Facebook. However, Amazon is striving to shift the balance with their own Amazon Advertising services, and the ecommerce giant offers purchase data that Google and Facebook cannot match.
Though the retailer has by no means usurped the Big Two, Amazon has been quickly establishing its share.
With a 95 percent increase from the previous year, Amazon reported $10.1 billion in revenue for its “Other” category. The retailer does not break out advertising revenue specifically, but this category “primarily includes sales of advertising services, as well as sales related to our other service offerings,” according to financial statements. The trends and increases in revenue appear to be driven largely by advertising growth.
For 2019, eMarketer has predicted that Amazon’s U.S. ad business will grow by more than 50 percent, increasing its market share to 8.8 percent.
The field is also opening up, with Kroger (among others) recently launching its own self-service marketing platform.
Walmart Digital Advertising in Progress
Where does all this leave Walmart? Walmart’s current advertising market share is too small to register. Gartner’s L2 estimated that, last year, Amazon was monetizing about 16 percent of searches on its website, while Walmart was closer to 1 percent. Additionally, content26 found that, across 10 consumer brands, Amazon consistently delivered a higher ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) when compared to Walmart.
But, Walmart can sell ads much closer to the point of sale than Google or Facebook. Additionally, Walmart has breadth of data where Amazon is weak, with both online and in-store shopper data. Walmart has also shared plans to bring its store and digital ad teams closer together, which could make it easier for brands who currently sell ads in-store to do so online.
Ultimately, bringing advertising services in-house shows that Walmart is getting serious about competing with Amazon.
Advice for Brands
Should you invest in Walmart digital advertising? The answer depends on each brand’s individual situation, but here are a few things to keep in mind while you decide.
Recognize Your Ecommerce Goals
Take stock of your sales goals. Where does Walmart fit into your overall marketing strategy, and how does the online business feed into your growth expectations?
Consider Your Budget
Where are your digital advertising dollars currently spent, and is there room to be flexible? Are you already running effective search and display ads on Amazon, with room to experiment elsewhere?
According to a recent Retail Dive article, 57 percent of brands that sell on Amazon are advertising on the site. To see a breakdown of how much money digital marketers in various categories spend each month advertising on Amazon, check out the article.
Take an Early Adopter Mentality
The transition between Triad and Walmart is expected to take until at least May. In these early days, there will be glitches. However, there will be far less competition at the outset, so getting in ahead of the pack could produce higher returns.
Go in with a plan. If you choose to use Walmart digital advertising services, know in advance what you want to get out of the engagement and have a clear road map for measuring success.
Evaluate Your Content
Prep your Walmart product pages first. If you don’t have solid essential and enhanced content, such as compelling images and clear and helpful product information, you won’t get the most out of your advertising dollars. Before you advertise your retailer product pages, make sure they are retail-ready.
With the potential Walmart has to offer, smart brands will keep an eye on this development as it unfolds. It is early in the process, but Walmart is clearly signaling its intent to take on Amazon.