Walmart Connect, the retail media unit of Walmart, is rolling out a sponsored video advertising format ahead of the holiday shopping rush, per details shared with Marketing Dive. This represents the network’s first on-site video ad solution and is positioned as a key stepping stone toward offering more robust upper-funnel options for brand partners.
“Video ads in search results give you the ability to tell your brand or product’s story to break the barrier between upper-funnel campaign tactics and performance ad formats like Sponsored Search,” said Susanna Lee, senior director of product marketing for Walmart Connect, in a press statement.
Sponsored Videos will appear in search results, seeking to weave a stronger storytelling element into retail media campaigns. Walmart Connect said the visual format will drive brand awareness, product consideration and conversions, including for seasonal items. The offering is now available to all advertisers that are registered through the Walmart Brand Portal, while campaigns can be managed via the Walmart Ad Center or through third parties in the company’s partner network.
The news demonstrates how mature retail media networks are moving past purely performance-based advertising into areas of marketing that are oriented around brand-building. Walmart Connect is aiming to appeal to marketers that have shifted their holiday strategies more toward digital channels and are angling to inspire in-the-moment purchases on e-commerce platforms.
Walmart Connect cited internal data that showed 93% of the 100 most-searched keywords on its services are non-branded words or phrases, an insight the group believes is indicative that customers are looking for suggestions. More than half of surveyed shoppers said they discover new products on Walmart.com and the big-box store’s app about once per month.
“We’ve all resonated with video ad content at some point, whether it’s from watching a beauty product demo, spotting the perfect toy or experiencing an emotional connection with a holiday ad,” said Lee. “So imagine the power of video storytelling in one of our most influential destinations for customer discovery — search results.”
Walmart Connect used the announcement to promote a roster of creative partners unveiled in May that were enlisted to help advertisers craft more effective campaigns. Those companies, which include VidMob, WhyteSpyder, Kaizen Ad, It’sRapid.ai and The Mars Agency, can aid in the creation and editing of Sponsored Video campaigns, according to Walmart Connect. As measurement remains a pressing issue for the retail media industry at large, Walmart is also promising bespoke ways to track the success of video campaigns, including view-through rate, viewable click-through-rate and view-based attributed sales metrics.
Other platforms are attempting to wed video content closer to purchasing occasions to generate business around the holidays. TikTok, the short-form video app, this week launched the long-anticipated TikTok Shop in the U.S., with a focus on shoppable videos and livestreams.
For Walmart Connect, the addition of video ads could help sustain an impressive run of growth in a tightly competitive retail media environment. The unit saw ad sales up 36% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2023.