Walmart’s New Self-Serve Ad Portal Closes Gap with Amazon

With a new API and in-house online platform, Walmart is enabling brands to place their own ads and saving massive amounts of money.

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Need to Know

  • Walmart Media Group, the retail giant’s advertising channel, debuted its first self-serve advertising portal as well as an API aimed at streamlining the advertising process for marketers.
  • The new portal allows marketers to easily search, purchase, and target sponsored ads in a bid-auction marketplace on Walmart.com
  • In an effort to expand its advertising capabilities, Walmart Media Group acquired Polymorph, a self-serve ad tech platform in April 2019.
  • Prior to the portal, Walmart’s advertising business relied solely on direct relationships with sales reps. The portal will save the retailer time and advertising dollars while giving advertisers more streamlined ad access to millions of customers.

Analysis

Walmart is gunning for the top spot—in retail sales, and now in advertising. The top retailer has been building a robust in-house advertising offering through Walmart Media Group and just unveiled its latest tool, a self-serve advertising portal. The debut and comes at a time when the majority of top advertising dollars are being spent on mature platforms like Amazon, Google, and Facebook. 

Walmart has a glaring advantage over the others in the category: it’s offline experience and massive scale. Walmart says 90% of Americans are shopping at Walmart every year and nearly 160 million visit Walmart stores and the website every week. Omnichannel sales mean more ways to measure the success of a purchased ad campaign and more access points throughout the customer journey. 

“Walmart Media Group enables brands to reach more customers at scale and measure advertising effectiveness across the entire shopping journey,” said Lex Josephs, VP of Sales and Media Partnerships at Walmart Media Group. “Now, brands can tap into Walmart’s shopper footprint to get the right sponsored ad experience, to the right shopper at the right moment.”

A look at Walmart’s online ads.

Through the ad platform, advertisers are able to search and bid on ads that will appear on Walmart.com, giving them the ability to tap into deals from third-party partners and advertising technology platforms Flywheel Digital, Kenshoo, Pacvue, and Teikametrics. Previously, ad sales relied on interactions with sales reps, a costly endeavor for the retailer. 

In April of last year, Walmart acquired an advertising startup, Polymorph, strengthening its supply-side ad stack. They also quietly brought on new executive and engineering talent and begin testing the waters with new advertising power with campaigns for brand partners Kellogg and Hershey’s.  

Despite having the omnichannel upper hand and a robust media group, early critics are claiming that the brand needs to step it up on the reporting side. Walmart is a closed-loop ecosystem and advertisers using the portal currently only receive minimal info on the ad, such as visibility into performance by device type and insight into the frequency of searches. 

Reporting aside, advertisers are eager to diversify their advertising spend away from Amazon and Google.

“There’s massive interest in this platform being successful,” said John Shea, chief growth officer at Teikametrics. “The brands we work with want to activate more dollars on Walmart.com than they’re currently able to spend, and they’re really excited about companies being able to plug in to enable that opportunity for them.”

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