Walmart Search Advertising 101

Walmart.com is a top-rated e-commerce platform that rivals Amazon, so we expect their search advertising campaigns to be high quality. The company marries innovation with the needs of the modern consumer. By providing a self-serve advertising platform for brands and agencies, Walmart caters to advertising and marketing groups, as well as B2C customers. 

With Walmart’s advertising platform, there is key information you should know if you want to optimize your Walmart advertising campaigns. We’ll look into the different search advertising platforms, and report on what each one offers. 

Why Use Walmart Search Advertising? 

Over 16 million searches occur on Walmart.com every day. That’s millions of hits of virtual foot traffic advertisers can use to put their products out in front. Moreover, 4,500 customers visit the website every minute, looking for the newest products. Smart advertisers will make themselves available to create sponsored campaigns for these customers. 

Benefits of Using Sponsored Products

Walmart offers sponsored products as part of their ad placements, and they’ve recently made it even more efficient for users. The following are a few ways Walmart has enhanced the Sponsored Products platform:

  • More efficiency: There is no ad group level budgeting, so advertisers can set a single campaign-level budget. This way is much easier for advertisers to manage when they run/ campaigns.  
  • More flexibility: With the improvements Walmart added, advertisers can choose a total campaign budget, a daily budget, or both. All current campaigns have a total and daily budget automatically.
  • More control: If the campaign’s daily budget isn’t spent, the unused budget rolls over to the next day. Walmart caps the daily ad spend so it doesn’t exceed twice the daily budget set for the campaign.  

Ways to Advertise with Walmart

All of Walmart’s advertising options operate on a CPC (cost-per-click) model, so you’re only charged when users click on an ad. Walmart’s ad offerings are similar to Amazon’s Headline ads. Each ad links to the Walmart product detail page for the product advertised.

Consequently, sponsored products help customers discover new products related to their existing searches. These sponsored products are native, cost-per-click ads that drive customers toward a purchase. As a result, these ads appear in prominent, high traffic placements in the following four ways:

  • In Grid Search Results
  • Sponsored Product Carousel
  • Search Brand Amplifiers
  • Buy Box

1. Sponsored product in-grid search results.

Walmart’s Sponsored Product ads can help increase conversions and boost visibility for new products. According to Walmart, Sponsored Products are chosen “based on a combination of relevancy and bid” and must be in stock to be promoted. 

There are two ad types for Sponsored Products:: In-grid search results and Sponsored Product carousels. 

To appear in the in-grid search results, the Sponsored Product must appear organically within the top 128 results and win the buy box. In-grid search results ads look like this:

Walmart.com search results page with two coffee products displayed as Sponsored Products and highlighted in magenta.

Source: Walmart

The ads drive traffic to product detail pages. Brands can set budgets for the ad campaigns; however, the minimum campaign spend for in-grid Sponsored Product ads is $100, with a daily minimum of $50.

2. Sponsored product carousels. 

Sponsored Product carousels show up on the search results, category, and product pages. They look like this:

Walmart.com search results page with a "Brand Amplifier" Sponsored Product display showing a granola brand logo and products highlighted in magenta.

Source: Walmart

Items promoted via carousel don’t need to rank within the top 128 organic listings; you just need to pay to have your products listed. Sponsored Product carousels are only available for automatic campaigns.

3. Search brand amplifiers.

Walmart SBA (Search Brand Amplifier) is a branded group of products that show up at the top of a search result listing for specific keywords. This advertising placement is managed through the Walmart internal media team and needs at least 4 Base IDs to be booked.

Walmart.com search results page with a "Brand Amplifier" Sponsored Product display showing a granola brand logo and products highlighted in magenta.

Source: Walmart

These ads can help your business drive sales and improve brand awareness, which can be a big help for new sellers or brands launching new product lines. 

4. Buy box banner ads.

This is a coveted spot that is not directly targetable. It’s possible to win the buy box banner only through automatic campaigns depending on relevance and a competitive bid. 

Walmart.com search results page with a recommended Sponsored Product of ice cream highlighted in magenta.

Source: Walmart

All of these can appear based on Walmart’s algorithm, based on the product’s relevancy and cost-per-click (CPC) bid price. To determine relevance, the algorithm examines such qualities as product title, description, click frequency, and product category. 

It is important to note that Walmart does offer additional Display ad options, but keep in mind those ad placements often come with a commitment requirement and higher price tag.

Automatic and Manual Campaigns 

There are two different campaign methods from which advertisers can choose. Both offer unique features that can be beneficial to different advertising strategies.  

Walmart’s Automatic Campaigns

Automatic campaigns are the easiest to bid on Walmart. They offer easy setup, high-traffic placements, higher impression volume, and no keyword management. 

After advertisers enter their product information, Walmart’s algorithm handles the rest. For brands new to advertising, this is useful for product launches and expanding reach beyond the existing customer base, as it offers maximum exposure. 

This campaign option is ideal for brands that are new to advertising, the prospect of widening their existing customer base or are launching a product. The pros include:

  • Easy setup
  • No keyword management
  • High impression volume.

Walmart’s Manual Campaigns 

Advertisers can manually select keywords to bid and match types. They can also sift through Walmart’s Keyword Analytics to eliminate low-performing keywords from campaigns.  For brands with a specific campaign direction, this provides the freedom to be creative while maintaining control.

Ideal for products with a long history on Walmart or brands that already know the keywords their customers use. Some of the pros are:

  • Access to Walmart’s Keyword Analytics tool
  • Select your own keywords
  • Full campaign control.

How Walmart Advertising Actually Works

Walmart’s self-managed service ad platform enables advertisers to purchase ad space within Walmart’s marketplace directly. This new ad platform works similarly to Amazon’s self-serve advertising. 

Walmart in an official announcement of the new ad platform stated that: “Today, we’re kicking off 2020 with the launch of our Walmart Advertising Partners program to expand advertisers’ direct access to their Sponsored Products campaigns, a bidded auction-based marketplace, giving them more transparency and control. Brands will now be able to increase visibility with Walmart’s diverse, sizable audience of shoppers.”

Walmart has invested in building an in-house advertising platform through Walmart Media Group that lets advertisers buy on-site search and Sponsored Product ads that appear on Walmart’s e-commerce sites and apps.

Cost of advertising on Walmart Marketplace

With Walmart Marketplace, your business can customize your ad spend to a degree. In comparison to other ad platforms, however, Walmart Marketplace does set strict standards for advertising on Walmart.com. These standards, however, ensure the best user experience.

For a quick reference, here is a summary of Walmart Marketplace advertising costs:

  • A self-serve campaign requires a $1000 monthly spend, with a daily cap of $100.
  • A managed campaign requires a $25,000 commitment.

If your company partners with a professional advertising agency, you can expect the following rates:

  • A one-time setup cost of $3750 to more than $15,000
  • A monthly ad spend of $5000 to more than $50,000
  • A monthly management cost of $1000 to more than $6000.

5 Steps for Getting Started with Walmart Advertising

1. Become a Walmart Marketplace seller. 

To begin selling on Walmart’s website as an approved Walmart Seller, you have to apply via Walmart.com.

The application requires the following info:

  • General contact information (name, email, company name, website, etc.)
  • Business information
  • Product assortment information
  • Ecommerce and marketplace experience
  • Operations information

Once you submit your application, the Walmart team will review it. If your application is approved, you’ll sign the Retailer Agreement and start onboarding as a seller. 

2. Create a product catalog. 

On listing products on Walmart, your first consideration should be to start with products that already sell well and have positive feedback on Amazon. Our recommendation for Amazon sellers looking to expand to Walmart is to have at least a 95% feedback or seller rating on Amazon and at least 50 product reviews.

Additionally, keep in mind that the following products are prohibited or restricted by Walmart:

  • Alcohol
  • Animals
  • Artifacts
  • Collectibles
  • Used products
  • Currency
  • Drugs and medical devices.

A full list of the prohibited items can be accessed here.

When you create your product catalog, make sure you have the following info ready to add to your product listings in Walmart Seller Central:

  • Product details
  • Product images
  • Pricing
  • Reviews
  • Inventory
  • Promotions.

There are three ways to upload your products to Walmart.com:

  • Through the Walmart API
  • As a bulk upload using Excel spreadsheets
  • Through a Walmart channel partner like SellerActive.

3. Request to use Walmart advertising.

To advertise on Walmart, you have to submit an additional application. To apply, reach out to Walmart Media Group with the following info:

  • Company name
  • Contact information
  • Number of SKUs
  • Product category
  • Primary campaign objective
  • Target audience
  • Desired advertising plan
  • Anticipated monthly budget 

Approval depends on your company’s performance on Walmart Marketplace; however, Walmart Media Group doesn’t list its performance requirements publicly.

4. Attend Walmart online training. 

If the Walmart Media Group approves your application, they will contact you and invite you to a mandatory online training webinar.  

Walmart Media Group hosts weekly webinars that cover the basics of the Walmart ad platform, how to create ads and other relevant information. There is also a live Q&A session at the end of the webinar.

5. Launch your campaigns. 

Once you’ve fully onboarded, you’re nearly ready to launch your first campaign. 

Before you do, make sure you have a clear plan for your Walmart advertising budget. We recommend budgeting advertising costs for the following strategies:

  • Paid advertising to boost organic presence and increase discoverability and visibility
  • Digital advertising to improve new product performance
  • Target ads to increase the visibility of low-performing SKUs
  • Seasonal product ads to take advantage of seasonality spikes

You’ll also need to decide the length of your campaign, which specific products to promote, and how much you’re willing to budget for each specific product. 

Once your campaign launches, don’t forget to monitor campaign performance and adjust your strategy and spend accordingly.

4 Best Practices for Successful Walmart Advertising

Although Walmart advertising is similar to Amazon advertising in many ways, however, it’s important to create a dedicated plan for each platform. Here are some best practices to maximize the gains of your Walmart advertising strategy. 

  1. Be mindful when using automated campaigns.
  2. Test keywords for manual campaigns.
  3. Optimize your product listing and creative.
  4. Consider partnering with an e-commerce agency.

Final Thoughts 

Reach out to a Walmart ads agency to find out if it’s a good investment for your organization. With so many different platforms to choose from, success in this advertising program depends on the marketer.

From sponsored ad options to the way campaigns run, Walmart offers unparalleled flexibility. Their frontrunner status makes them even more appealing since millions of people shop on the platform daily. 

Which search advertising platform is your favorite? Do you plan to use Walmart advertising with future campaigns? Let us know your thoughts, and which method you think is the most beneficial.