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Walmart Ads Guide: A Deep Dive Into Walmart Advertising

Geri Mileva
May 21, 2024
May 21, 2024
Walmart Ads Guide: A Deep Dive Into Walmart Advertising

Three-fifths of a century—that’s how long it has been since the Walton brothers opened the first Walmart in Arkansas. Since then, it has grown from a cozy neighborhood store to a global marketplace serving customers in over two dozen countries.

Walmart provides its customers with multiple shopping avenues with its diverse mix of neighborhood markets, supercenters, warehouse clubs, and eCommerce sites. This allows shoppers to choose whichever shopping method suits their convenience and preferences. This is also a key factor in its continuous growth.

If you’re an online seller, you can leverage Walmart’s increasing popularity to grow your business. With heightened competition online, you need more than an expanded listing in other marketplaces. You need a strategy that widens your reach and increases your visibility. One way to do this is through Walmart Advertising.

Why Advertise on Walmart

Every week, approximately 255 million customers visit Walmart stores throughout the world. Many of them either do their shopping online or browse through the online marketplace first before going to brick-and-mortar Walmart shops. In fact, more than 133 million unique visits were recorded for Wal-Mart in March 2024—and that’s in the United States alone.

Why Advertise on Walmart
(screenshot taken in May 2024)

This popularity not only puts Walmart among the top 50 multi-platform properties but also makes it a prime platform to reach a broad consumer base. Advertising on Walmart enables you to target a specific audience from its diverse user demographics. It also gives you the following advantages:

  • Increased visibility. When you advertise on Walmart, your product listing can appear as a sponsored and organic listing. This results in your listing appearing twice on the same results page. Aside from heightened visibility, this also enhances brand recall.
  • Better product performance. The more of your listings appear in front of high-intent customers, the more interactions your brand is likely to get. This can improve the historical performance of your products and help them rank higher on organic listings.
  • Higher organic sales. The products you place on ad listings are not the only ones that can potentially see an increase in sales. They also lead shoppers to other products in your portfolio, generating more organic sales overall.
  • Boost in seasonal sales. When you place ads on Walmart, you can run targeted campaigns during peak sales events such as special holidays, seasonal promos, and new product launches. You can choose to focus your ad efforts on these specific periods to further increase sales.

These benefits give you a competitive edge without having to invest heavily in advertising. Walmart ads are budget-friendly, with options to set daily caps or campaign limits that align with your financial capabilities. 

How Does Walmart Advertising Work?

All Walmart Marketplace sellers are eligible to place ads on the platform as long as they meet these two requirements:

  • Have an active seller account on the Walmart Marketplace
  • Have one or more active product listings on the marketplace

The ads can be placed and managed through the Walmart Ad Center, a self-service platform that makes it easy for all marketplace sellers to promote their products. New sellers are automatically registered with the Walmart Ad Center, where they can learn the ins and outs of advertising in the marketplace. However, they still need to have at least one valid product listing to run ads.

How Does Walmart Advertising Work?

Walmart Ads follow a cost-per-click (CPC) model, so you’d only need to pay for advertising when shoppers click on your ads. The cost per ad depends on how much you bid on keywords and what auction results are. Ad placement is determined by two main factors: relevancy and bid amount.

Ad Relevance

The relevance of your ads to the search term and customer intent plays a key role in getting prime placement. Walmart algorithms filter through signals such as contextual relevance, seller reviews, shipping tags, and product performance. They then qualify products that would most likely bring the best value for shoppers.

Bid Amount

Relevant qualifying ads are then sorted according to bid amounts. Those with the highest bids are granted better in-grid placements. 

You have two main options for setting up bids: manual or automatic. For manual bidding, you select the keywords you want to bid on. For automated bidding, Walmart adjusts bid amounts depending on market conditions and competitor bids. Manual bidding gives you full control over which keywords to target, while automatic bidding removes the guesswork from bid management.

For both bidding strategies, you can set a maximum CPC bid based on your advertising budget. 

Types of Walmart Ads

Walmart offers different types of advertising programs through Walmart Connect, an omnichannel media platform. As a Marketplace seller, you can run Sponsored Search ads, Display ads, and In-store displays. You can manage your ads directly on the Walmart Ad Center or grant user-based access to an agency or API partner. 

Sponsored Search Ads

There are three kinds of Sponsored Search advertising: Sponsored Brands, Sponsored Products, and Sponsored Videos. They can be used concurrently to boost visibility and only cost money when a customer clicks on the ad listing. These types of ads appear in one of these spots on Walmart Marketplace:

  • Premium Placement. Sponsored items are featured on strategic locations in high-traffic areas, such as the homepage or category pages. They are placed in spots that are prominently visible to online shoppers.
Sponsored Search Ads
  • Search In-grid. Sponsored listings also appear along with organic product listings on relevant search results. They are typically featured in the first four slots and shown again a few times within the rest of the search results.
search in grid
  • Product Carousel. Your ads may appear on carousels at the bottom of a search page or on item pages of similar products.
  • Buy Box. Ads may appear in Buy Box banner ads on product detail pages. When your products also have good historical performance, they have higher chances of getting a coveted Buy Box spot.
Buy Box

Sponsored Brands

Sponsored Brands get the top spot on search results that include their targeted keywords. This premium placement gives them high visibility and helps raise brand awareness.

To be eligible for Sponsored Brands placement, you must be:

  • a registered brand owner at the Walmart Brand Portal;
  • based in the U.S., U.K., Hong Kong, or China (or a pre-approved seller in India); and
  • a registered brand rights owner under the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Use this ad type to launch new items, put a spotlight on seasonal items, or promote products that aren’t making it on search rankings. To intensify brand recall, customize your ad creative with your brand logo, a catchy headline, and up to four featured items. Include shoppable links to boost conversions.

sponsored ads

Sponsored Products

This ad type appears with the “Sponsored” tag on search results and on detail pages of related products. They may also be shown on the Walmart homepage and other high-traffic spots. Typically blended with organic search results in-grid, they’re not as prominent as banner ads and Buy Box spots. However, they still boost visibility by putting products in front of shoppers with high interest.

For your product listing to be eligible for Sponsored Products placement, it must be:

  • Published on
  • In stock
  • Winning the Buy Box

Sponsored Products are bid-based. To get a good position in-grid, your product must be relevant to the search and have the highest bid for that particular keyword or category. When you win a placement, your listing can appear at least twice on a single results page as a sponsored or organic listing.

sponsored ads

Sponsored Videos

Like Sponsored Products, Sponsored Videos are chosen based on keyword relevancy and bid amount. Shown in-grid along with other search results, these short videos help boost interactions and guide shoppers in product discovery. When a shopper clicks at any point in the video, they are directed to the product item page. An add-to-cart button can also be added to the listing so shoppers can buy the products directly.

Sponsored Videos work well in engaging shoppers and leading them to learn more about a product. However, they are not available for all Marketplace sellers. To run Sponsored Videos, you must be:

  • a registered brand owner at the Walmart Brand Portal;
  • based in the U.S., U.K., Hong Kong, or China (or a pre-approved seller in India); and
  • a registered brand rights owner under the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Only one Sponsored Video is shown on the search results page, so competition to get this premium spot is tough. 

Walmart Display Ads

Walmart offers both on-site and off-site display ads through the Display Self-Serve (DSS) platform or the Demand-Side Platform (DSP). Through programmatic display advertising, DSP campaigns can be used for advanced targeting and for broadening brand reach across Walmart’s digital properties and its partner sites. For on-site ads, DSS empowers small sellers to run display ad campaigns with limited budgets. It also gives them access to creative tools, an assets library, and targeting tools for ad creation and optimization. 

On-Site Display Ads

Display ads can appear as a highlighted brand box within search results, in a gallery on the homepage or a browse page, or as a marquee on top of Walmart pages. Here are some display ads you might see when browsing through the Walmart Marketplace.

sponsored products
On-Site Display Ads Walmart
On-Site Display Ads

Off-site Display Ads

Walmart helps sellers widen their customer base by expanding their reach to other websites and social media platforms. If you opt for this type of advertising, you can showcase your brand on Facebook, Instagram, eCommerce sites, and other websites to direct potential customers to your Walmart product pages.

Off-site Display Ads

In-Store Display Ads

Walmart has over 10,000 brick-and-mortar stores in over 19 countries, and millions of customers do their shopping in person. Reach this consumer base and encourage them to purchase your products through ads displayed on TV screens, self-checkout ads, interactive product demos, in-store audio ads, or product samples. Walmart Connect enables you to do all these without having to do much of the legwork.

How to Set Up Walmart Ads Campaigns

Now that you’ve figured out which types of ads you’re eligible to run and which ones are aligned with your marketing strategy, it’s time to set up your campaigns. As mentioned earlier, new sellers are automatically registered to the Walmart Ad Center, where you can manage all your ads. Log into your account to go to your dashboard, then do the following:

  1. Go to Campaigns.
  2. Click on Create a new campaign.
  3. Provide a detailed campaign name under General Information.
  4. Choose the type of Sponsored Search campaign you want to run.
  5. Select Manual or Automatic for your targeting approach.
  6. Choose the product you want to advertise.
  7. Click Add keywords and type the relevant keywords you want to bid for.
  8. Set the start and end dates for the campaign.
  9. Set the total campaign budget and the daily limits.
  10. Click Launch Campaign and wait for the new ad to be published.

If you have multiple products, you can streamline ad management by creating an Ad Group. You can add up to 2,000 products to one group and have them share the same ad settings. For advanced targeting, you can select how you want your ad placements prioritized by ticking the boxes for Search In-grid, Buy Box, Search Carousel, and /or Item Carousel. You can also use the Bid Multiplier to increase your bids for ads that are eligible for premium placements.

bid multiplier

Best Practices for Walmart Advertising

Advertising on Walmart is pretty straightforward, using its self-service tools and managed services. However, you still need a solid strategy to maximize the benefits you can gain from running ads on and beyond the platform.

  1. Manage your inventory. Ads won’t run if a product is not in stock, so make sure you manage your inventory well. Inventory management tools like ExportYourStore can be used to monitor inventory levels more accurately and sync stock levels across multiple marketplaces.
  2. Monitor ad performance. To see consistent long-term growth in sales, track key performance indicators to see which ad types and placements are performing well. Your click-through rates and conversion rates, for instance, indicate how well your ads can reach the right audience. 
  3. Understand customer intent. Gather actionable data on how shoppers interact with your products. What keywords are they using? Which ad placements engage them the most? Data Spark, a market analytics tool, has a robust keyword research tool that can help identify the keywords for your listings.
  4. Improve the quality of your product detail pages. When a customer performs a keyword search, Walmart’s algorithm scans item pages for these keywords. It qualifies them according to how complete the details are and how relevant the page is to the search term and user intent. Optimize product titles, descriptions, images, and key features.
  5. Maintain your brand reputation. Customer reviews and seller ratings influence purchasing decisions. You want your brand box to have at least a four-star rating to win the trust of shoppers. Protect your reputation by setting up FW Alerts to know when a product is getting negative reviews so you can address issues immediately.

Complying with Walmart Ad Policies is among the best practices that you should follow. Walmart has specific requirements for ad creatives and content, including the following terms of use:

  • Ad creatives must adhere to intellectual property rights requirements. Rights, licenses, or clearances must be secured for copyrighted or trademark elements used in the ads.
  • In certain cases, advertisers may be compelled to submit proof of substantiation and clearances before the distribution of ads.
  • When necessary, ads may be required to include clear disclosures placed on a conspicuous spot within the ad.
  • Ads must not promote coupons or link directly to any coupon offer page.
  • Ads must be free of spelling and grammar errors and must avoid excessive use of special characters and capital letters.
  • Competitor brands, including their name and logos, may not be referenced in the product being advertised.
  • Profanity, whether explicit or implied, is not allowed. The use of any graphic language is strictly prohibited.
  • Inappropriate and suggestive images, including those with nudity, excessive skin exposure, and violence, are not allowed in ads.
  • Ads for healthcare products must clearly show the proper use and intended dosage of such products.

While ads for most products are automatically approved by the system, some ad categories are subject to deeper scrutiny and require further verification. Among the ads requiring prior approval are those with the following claims:

  • Made in the USA
  • Green, sustainable, recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable
  • Other environmental claims such as non-toxic, carbon offsets, free of, and natural
  • Third-party certifications or badges
  • Product performance based on testimonials or endorsements
  • Cashback reward deals or other rebates

The full list can be accessed through Walmart’s ad policy pages. Make sure to go through and understand all policies, as noncompliance can have serious repercussions. You may have your ads or seller account suspended and incur steep fines or penalties.

Where to Advertise: Walmart vs. Amazon

Is it worth advertising on Walmart, or should you just stick with Amazon?

Where to Advertise: Walmart vs. Amazon

Having a wider reach, Amazon still holds the top spot among all online marketplaces in almost all product categories. However, Walmart’s physical stores in thousands of locations across the United States and worldwide give it an edge when it comes to fulfilling orders. Marketplace Pulse data shows that 50% of Walmart’s online sales are actually fulfilled through one of their physical stores. Particularly for perishable goods, Walmart is the preferred channel. In fact, Amazon’s 2.5% share of food and beverage sales pales in comparison with Walmart’s 18.2% share in the same category.

When it comes to advertising, Walmart tends to be more budget-friendly. There are no monthly subscription fees, and bid amounts are flexible. With fewer third-party sellers on the platform, there is also relatively less competition compared with Amazon.

If you are intent on achieving success as an online seller, advertising on both platforms may be the strategic choice. Doing so can maximize your visibility on both platforms and reach more audiences. To ease the management of your accounts, ads, and inventory on these platforms, head on over to Threecolts and choose the right digital tools for your needs.

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