Retailers

Walmart Wants to Put More Muscle Into Its Ad Platform

'Premium advertising experiences' and more in-store and online flexibility for sellers are in the works for Walmart Connect
Walmart.com shopper
Photograph courtesy of Walmart

In January 2021, Walmart Inc. announced a rebranding of its growing media business and a Walmart-size ambition to grow the newly christened Walmart Connect into one of the top 10 advertising platforms in the United States. 

Now, the "Fortune 1" company is introducing additional capabilities and tools for its vendor clients, promising new ways for sellers to get their products in front of targeted audiences quickly and effectively both online and in-store. Among the offerings will be "new premium advertising experiences on Walmart.com," including new on-site ad units and video, which Walmart anticipates testing later this year, according to Rich Lehrfeld, SVP and general manager of Walmart Connect.

Improved online search functionality and new "omni experiences" that are designed to give brands more control over how they showcase themselves in-store at self-checkout screens, on TV walls and through in-store events also are in the works, Lehrfeld wrote in a blog post on Walmart's corporate site. In addition, expanded measurement capabilities online and in physical stores will help "drive accountable results and a stronger end-to-end offering," said Lehrfeld.

Walmart is "laser-focused on evolving Walmart Connect's solutions to help advertisers make every media moment a retail moment," Lehrfeld wrote. He touted Walmart's own forays into livestreamed shopping events and using facial-recognition AR tech as a product-recommendation tool as well as a recent Super Bowl-prep-themed TikTok challenge that gathered more than 5.7 billion views. 

"Every week, more than 150 million customers shop with us in-store or online," Lehrfeld noted. The mission of Walmart Connect, he added "is to help brands and sellers meaningfully connect with these customers on their shopping journeywherever that occursto find the right product or discover a new one." 

Walmart has sought to leverage its dominant brick-and-mortar presence—with 90% of the U.S. population living within 10 miles of one of the company's more than 4,700 U.S. stores across the country—to win more advertising spend from sellers big and small. In Walmart's fourth-quarter fiscal 2022 earnings call last month, company leaders noted that revenue from Walmart Connect and other parts of the company's "flywheel," (e.g., Walmart+, financial services) helps Walmart keep prices in check for customers as inflation continues to rise. 

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