Winning Better Together: Building a Cohesive Ad Strategy Across Marketplaces

Building effective PPC campaigns is hard. And to stay on top of multiple eCommerce retailer platforms is even harder. Your brand, like many others, might have dedicated teams that possess the expertise to succeed with each of these marketplaces.

While there are certainly unique differences between Amazon, Walmart, Instacart, and others, there might be benefits to pursue more cooperation between your disparate campaigns. Not only can this help your team succeed in each of their specialized areas of expertise, but it can also help your brand form a more cohesive PPC strategy and identify sales opportunities you otherwise would have missed.

Here are a few ways to build a cohesive strategy across Amazon, Walmart, and Instacart.

Identify the best ROAS for all three platforms

Working with all three platforms together provides a full picture of what kind of overarching strategy makes sense for your brand. You want to maximize your marketing investment and pursue the best growth across the board, not in silos.

Ultimately, a cross-platform approach enables you to better identify where you are getting better ROAS, and where you can invest more aggressively at a product level.  

For example, when we compared advertising performance between Walmart and Amazon, we found that brands tend to see a higher ROAS onAmazon. However, this is largely due to brands seeing more success with higher-ASP items on Amazon than they do on Walmart.

Interestingly,Walmart tends to have a lower Cost-per-Click, about half in fact, at an average$0.45 CPC, versus Amazon’s $0.90 average. Walmart is a great platform to maximize reach at a relatively efficient cost, and to translate that reach into sales, brands may want to focus on their lower-priced products.

As such, your investment strategy will not be the same for each platform.Depending if you are looking for a top-line or a bottom-line growth, you will need to make adjustments based on the uniqueness of each platform.

Apply keyword insight across marketplaces

One thing that you will quickly discover when you manage all three marketplaces simultaneously is that consumer behavior isn’t all that different on these platforms, meaning that customers tend to use similar search terms regardless of where they’re shopping online. This enables you to take keyword learnings from one platform and apply it to another.

For example, Amazon tends to have the largest assortment, which can give good performance insights on a sub-brand, product, and variation level, and the keywords that are successful at this level of granularity.

Many brands will test new keywords on Amazon first where they can drive quick results and apply the most successful keywords to Walmart and Instacart.

This information can also be used to plan which products would be the best to launch with on new marketplaces, which work better featured in advertising, and which products work well for cross-promotion. But if you’re not actually looking at performance at a product-level and can’t synthesize that information to the rest of your organization, those insights could be lost.

That being said, you need to adjust your bidding strategy according to the bidding model on each platform. Walmart advertising is based on a first bid auction, which means an advertiser will pay their maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bid, while Amazon advertising is based on a second bid auction, which means an advertiser’s CPC will be one penny over the second-highest bidder.

Staying ahead of the competition

We often talk about the fact that your competitors on Amazon are not the same as your brick & mortar competitors. The same is true across eCommerce marketplaces.

We measure this with Share of Voice: how often your products are visible on given search keywords relative to your competitors. An underdog brand in brick & mortar may have an aggressive ad strategy that allows them to own top Share of Voice for their category onAmazon.

To use Share of Voice data to optimize your ad strategy, look for gaps in your competitors’ strategy at a keyword level. What are they not bidding on that you could own? Comparing Share of Voice across eCommerce platforms will uncover areas where you may be facing stiff competition on Amazon but have a wide open playing field on Walmart or Instacart.

Tailor campaigns to each marketplace

Your spend on different keywords across all three platforms will differ but the way the campaigns are built is similar. The overall philosophy is to perfect the act of matching the right product to the right shopper at the right time. To do that, there are a few platform-specific things you should keep in mind.

For example, Walmart requires products to show up in the top 128 organic search results to be eligible for self-serve advertising. As such, you may rely more on auto campaigns on Walmart to begin, so focusing on your best product opportunities is important.

On Instacart, on the other hand, you have a wider range of campaigns you can run. This is because Instacart supports all sizes of retailers supported - food, drug, and mass. Each of these tiers will have a different assortment, thus allowing you to run campaigns specific to, for example, Club, high-price items, or low-price items. The idea is to have the ability to differentiate your bids based on the price of the product. A higher-priced item is going to be able to absorb a higher-priced bid.

How to make a cross-platform strategy work

The downside of trying to develop a cross-platform strategy is the time it requires. To build a solid strategy, you will need to pull similar data across all three platforms. This is a tedious process, especially when you have a large number of campaigns.

Let’s take Instacart as an example. If you want to get all keyword data for all your campaigns, you would have to click into every single one of them. If you manage around 50 campaigns, that can amount to 3-4hours of work.

Additionally, you will need to account for attribution models and conversion rates. BothAmazon and Instacart have a 14-day attribution window, while Walmart has a 3-and a 30-day attribution model at the moment.

When it comes to conversion rates, Amazon counts the number of orders, while on Instacart it’s actual units. This might result in conversion rates on Instacart that are above 100% but that only means what customers are buying multiple items at checkout.

This can be a lot to deal with if you don’t have the right tools. Additionally, there are a lot of things, such as getting certain metrics and more attribution windows, that you simply can’t get from the platforms themselves. That is why it’s advisable to invest in a tool that will allow you to manage all of your eCommerce advertising in one place.

Platforms like Pacvue provide Share of Voice data at the campaign, product, and keyword level across marketplaces, so you can uncover competitive opportunities. Pacvue also normalizes attribution data to give you an easier side-by-side comparison.Finally, Pacvue has automatic keyword harvesting and a rich set of keyword research tools, so you can build the right strategy to reach your customers, wherever they are.

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by 
Adam Hutchinson

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