Amazon has been the undisputed leader of the e-commerce marketplace for over a decade. And while it’s still ahead of the pack right now, competitors like Walmart are fully prepared to close the gap. 

Walmart’s online sales have been up by 78% since 2016, and have been growing twice as fast as Amazon’s. One can only imagine what Walmart’s sales have been like during the pandemic, when people stampeded to online sales in order to stay home and safe.

“Walmart.com has come a long way in a short time in terms of marketplace capabilities; in the types of targeting, ad types, reporting, and the sophistication of the platform overall. Brands looking for ecommerce growth beyond Amazon should consider the opportunity of selling on Walmart’s online marketplace,” Elizabeth Marsten, Senior Director of Strategic Marketplace Services at Tinuiti said in a recent interview.

Sellers on the Walmart Marketplace are in an excellent position to take advantage of this e-commerce surge. Effective and cost-efficient product ads can help drive interest and boost revenue.

Let’s review Walmart's advertising packages and how they work.

What is a Walmart Product Ad?

Walmart offers product ads to help sellers gain high-visibility placement for their products in the Walmart online marketplace. They come in a range of different formats, each of which is ideal for a specific situation and audience.

By using a Walmart Product Ad, sellers can boost their conversions, test new product launches, and get more information on their customers.  

In this post we will discuss the following Walmart Product Ads including:

  • Sponsored Products
  • Search Brand Amplifiers
  • Buy Box Banners

What is a Walmart Sponsored Product Ad?

Bidding for a Walmart Sponsored Product Ad works in a similar fashion to Amazon Sponsored Product ads. The primary difference is in how much one pays for them. Walmart uses a first-price auction system, which means that the price you bid is the price you will pay. This is in contrast to Amazon’s second-price auction system, where you pay $0.01 more than the second-highest bidder. 

“The functionality and performance of Walmart’s self-service advertising platform mirrors much of what we saw with Amazon Sponsored Products when it launched in 2014 - a program where early investors had huge competitive advantages,” Marsten says.

Sellers are able to bid on keywords based on broad, phrase, and exact match types. Walmart currently doesn’t have any negative keyword options, though, and keyword targeting is only available for the campaign level, so sellers looking for advanced PPC options will find this a bit restrictive.

Sponsored Products can be run on a self-serve basis, but only for specific partners. If you want to participate in the Sponsored Products self-serve program, review the Sponsored Products Guidelines and apply for entry as per the instructions listed. You’ll be contacted by the Walmart Media Group when your request is approved. 

Walmart Sponsored Products – In Grid Search Results

These are CPC ads that drive traffic to Walmart product detail pages. The advertiser controls how much they spend by setting budgets and bids, and only pay when a user clicks on the ads. 

The minimum campaign spend for these ads is $1,000 within a specific start and end date, with a daily minimum of $100. Bear in mind that this isn’t how much you will actually spend, but what Walmart has set as the minimum that will be entered into the platform. 

Walmart Sponsored Products – Sponsored Product Carousel

This carousel is located on the search results, category, and product pages. Unlike the regular carousel, items listed here don’t need to be in the top 128 organic listings (about 3 pages) in order to appear. Instead, you pay to have the products featured here.

What is a Walmart Search Brand Amplifier?

SBA (Search Brand Amplifier) is a branded group of products that appears at the top of a search result listing for specific keywords. This advertising placement is also determined by the Walmart internal media team and, like the buy box banner (see below), can be won through automatic campaigns. 

What is a Walmart Buy Box Banner? 

This is a coveted spot that is only granted when you are the top seller in a particular category and is determined by the Walmart internal media team. However, it’s still possible to win the buy box banner through an automatic campaign depending on relevance and bid. 

Pro-tip: Walmart does offer additional Display options, but keep in mind those ad placements often come with a commitment requirement and higher price tag.

3 Best Practices for Walmart Advertising

1.Test Automated Campaigns.

Automated campaigns tend to perform better over time than manual campaigns, but you need to have at least 10 SKUs in the product group and start by controlling it with minimum bid and ad budgets. Also, automated campaigns have the potential to take off very quickly, due to them being eligible for more placements, so don’t set and forget. Check on your campaigns after running it for at least 3 days.

2. Leverage the Suggested Keywords tab.

 If you’re running manual campaigns, start with keywords from the Suggested Keywords tab. They’re listed in descending order, so starting with the top of the list will give you better results than the ones below–and probably better than any long-tail keywords you add yourself. 

3. Create unique content.

Don’t simply copy over content from different channels. Advertisers should create unique ad content to fit the Walmart channel.

“Walmart.com is not yet at the scale of Amazon and Google, however, there are still benefits to exploring this market to gain both immediate value and future rewards. If you set realistic expectations as to what Walmart.com can deliver and be more open to experimentation, it’s possible to have solid returns on your ad spend on this platform,” Marsten says.

“Advertising on Walmart plays a key role in creating scalable growth and will, like Amazon, have a positive effect on organic search rankings as well.”

By: Tara Johnson, Lead Content Strategist at Tinuiti

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