Walmart's Sponsored Products and How Brands can Use Them

Updated: January 9

Sponsored Products are here. We have been working closely with Walmart to prepare the Pacvue eCommerce platform to support bid management for the latest major paid search channel on the market. We are very excited to empower Pacvue users to optimize their campaigns across multiple digital advertising channels, now with full support of Walmart Sponsored Products.  

So, what exactly are Sponsored Products? Let's talk about how they work, who is eligible and how brands can begin leveraging this important new advertising channel 

Sponsored Product Ads 

Walmart is the largest retailer in the US. According to Adobe Analytics research shared with us by Walmart, the retailer reached 95% of US households in 2018 and served over 160M customers per week across its various channels. With this in mind, the launch of Sponsored Products provides brands with a major new way to reach and influence consumers. Walmart's Sponsored Product ads have been designed to target shoppers who visit Walmart.com to discover, research and buy products.  

Sponsored Products are pay-per-click ads that appear in three locations on Walmart.com: alongside organic search results, on related product detail pages (PDPs), and in Sponsored Product carousels.  

  • Search results: Walmart has reserved a few slots on the first page of results for any given search term as potential placements for Sponsored Products. They've promised to fill no more than two slots with the most relevant sponsored results for any query, reserving the rest of the space for organic results. 
  • Sponsored Product Carousels: Appearing in multiple locations including search results, category browsing and on product pages. 
  • Buy Box Banner: Located on the PDPs of related products, the buy box banner is a premium placement awarded only to ads with the highest bid and relevancy scores. 

Eligibility 

To be eligible for Sponsored Products, a SKU must:  

  • Belong to a category that is relevant to the targeted search term, with at least one product of the same type appearing organically on the first page of results for that term.  
  • Already have a positive organic search rank. 
  • Win the Buy Box; multiple sellers of the same product are listed on the same page and the one that controls the Buy Box is the one that scores the highest for price, in-stock rate, delivery speed and customer reviews. 

The above eligibility requirements also contribute to a SKU's relevancy score and the winning Sponsored Products are selected (and their placements are chosen) based on a combination of relevancy and bid.  

Bidding 

Walmart uses a first price bidding auction. Advertisers bid on key terms and items, setting their bid at the maximum they're willing to pay per click. Then the winning bidder pays the exact value of their bid each time someone clicks on the ad placement.  

Automatic Bidding 

Sponsored Product campaigns come in two forms: automatic and manual. When launching an automatic campaign, you allow Walmart to determine the optimal placement for ads based on the information contained in the product title, PDP content, category and related products. Product Carousel and Buy Box Banner placements are only awarded to automatic bids. 

The advantage of automatic campaigns is how they mine for new terms. They allow your products to leverage terms used by previously undiscovered customer segments, high-performing terms used by competitors, and long-tail research terms you might overlook. And because bids can be set and optimized at a per-product level, you can eliminate the challenge of fine tuning specific bids for dozens of different terms.  

Manual Bidding 

Manual campaigns involve bidding on specific keywords. You choose the keywords and max bids and assign one of three match types:  

  • Exact Match: The shopper searches the keyword or phrase exactly as written.  
  • Phrase MatchThe keyword or phrase is contained in the search, but the search may include additional leading or trailing words.  
  • Broad MatchAll words in the keyword or phrase appear in the query, but may be in any order and include additional words. 

Manual bidding requires more input upfront in exchange for transparency and full control over your campaign, allowing you to leverage your unique knowledge of your product and customers and develop a sophisticated paid search strategy tailored to your marketing goals. Manual Sponsored Product ads appear only on the search results page, alongside organic results.  

Your First Campaign 

Sponsored Products have been designed to drive traffic to your PDPs, increasing sales, visibility and your organic search rank in turnUse paid placement to grow your market share by increasing page views and share of voice, and defend your pocket of the digital shelf by driving volume and controlling your most valuable keywords. Follow these steps to craft your first campaign: 

  • Before launching a new campaign, take the opportunity to perform a product detail page audit. A complete, high-quality PDP is at the root of a successful ad campaign as it improves a SKU's relevancy, conversion rate and control of the Buy Box.  
  • Launch with a large assortment of products so that you can gather the data to measure and prioritize them according to traffic and ROAS. 
  • Run both automatic and manual campaigns. Content-driven auto campaigns can uncover new customers and valuable search data, while keyword-driven manual campaigns allow for targeted defense of your niche and more budgetary control. 
  • For automatic campaigns, use bid multipliers to selectively increase bids based on pre-set conditions in order to capture premium (high-conversion) placements like the Buy Box Banner and the first page of search results 
  • Dedicate more of your budget to manual campaigns, to prioritize spending on known targets and specific queries known to drive conversion and reduce waste.  
  • Reserve up to 30% of your Sponsored Products budget for test and learn campaigns, using the various reporting tools available from Walmart to measure results, identify trends and discover new opportunities. These include performance reports by day, item, keyword, ad group, page type and platform. 

We're planning to answer all of your questions about Walmart's growing advertising platform in the coming weeks. To make sure you don't miss the latest news, product updates and best practices from the leading eCommerce marketplaces, follow the Pacvue Blog 

Start diversifying your ad portfolio today. Contact us to set up a free demo and learn how to balance your budget across Amazon, Walmart and other ad platforms, increase your ROI and reach more customers.