Marketing

Walmart Connect wants to serve ads on TikTok, Snap and Roku

Walmart's retail media network is pushing beyond its own marketplace through Innovation Partners.

Walmart ad on TikTok

A Walmart ad on TikTok. (Photo courtesy of Walmart)

Buy an ad from Walmart, run it on TikTok.

That’s one path that will become possible through Walmart’s advertising business, thanks to a series of new video-centric tie-ups announced on Tuesday.

Walmart Connect rolled out a new program called Innovation Partners with some high-profile names in social media, live shopping and streaming like TikTok, Roku and Snap.

Through this initiative, brands will be able to use Walmart Connect to run ads on platforms beyond Walmart’s ecommerce marketplace and other owned channels. The idea is that brands can combine the first-party data Walmart receives through shopper transactions and measurement tools from Walmart Connect with the audience of these platforms to reach new buyers.

Walmart views the partnerships announced on Tuesday as “test and learn” opportunities for the holidays, and is already working with brands like J&J, P&G and Samsung.

“The newly expanded offering includes additional touchpoints and channels to reach customers wherever they are with new ad formats,” Seth Dallaire, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, Walmart US, wrote in an announcement. “Together, we will work with each partner to more deeply connect advertisers with customers throughout key moments in the shopper journey in order to provide the best solutions for advertisers.”

Here’s a look at the partnerships with each platform:

TikTok

\u200bA Walmart ad on TikTok. (Courtesy of Walmart Connect)

A Walmart ad on TikTok. (Courtesy of Walmart Connect)

Walmart Connect said it has a “first-to-market” pilot with the short-form video app that will allow Walmart advertisers to run ads on TikTok. This combines TikTok’s ad format, which offers a sound-on, full-screen video ad that runs in a user’s feed, with targeting and measurement capabilities from Walmart.

Snap, Inc.

\u200bA Walmart ad on Snapchat. (Courtesy of Walmart Connect)

A Walmart ad on Snapchat. (Courtesy of Walmart Connect)

Through this partnership, advertisers will be able to buy Snapchat ads and combine them with Walmart Connect’s geo-based measurement of omnichannel sales lift. It will be available for Snap Ads, Collection Ads and Snap AR.

Firework

\u200bA Walmart ad on Firework. (Courtesy of Walmart Connect)

A Walmart ad on Firework. (Courtesy of Walmart Connect)

Firework’s technology allows brands and retailers to embed shoppable livestreams on their own websites. Through this partnership, brands will be able to fund and run livestreams and short shoppable videos on Walmart.com/live. Through this partnership, Walmart said it is testing how brands can use Firework to create “premium, engaging, mobile-first video experiences.” Testing is underway with J&J and P&G.

​TalkShopLive

\u200bA TalkShopLive livestream. (Courtesy of Walmart Connect)

A TalkShopLive livestream. (Courtesy of Walmart Connect)

Walmart’s early forays into livestreaming have come through an existing partnership with TalkShopLive, which offers an emebeddable video player that is built to run QVC-for-the-internet-style events. With Walmart Connect, it is working to help brands extend livestreams across Walmart.com/live, TalkShopLive’s platform, brand and publisher sites and other sites across the web. The test here lies in how brands can amplify their content, and scale. Already, J&J, P&G, and Samsung have used it to run livestreams.

​Roku

\u200bA shoppable Walmart ad on Roku. (Courtesy of Walmart Connect)

A shoppable Walmart ad on Roku. (Courtesy of Walmart Connect)

Walmart and Roku recently made big news with a partnership that will bring shoppable ads to streaming TV, where viewers can make purchases directly from their screen using a remote, and then get products delivered that are fulfilled by Walmart. This partnership with Walmart Connect and Roku Advertising is the vehicle by which the ads themselves will be purchased, with Walmart Connect serving ads through the Roku platform, and providing measurement tools to brands.

Walmart's ad growth

This is just the latest development from Walmart Connect, which was revealed to be a $2 billion business for Walmart in its last fiscal year, and grew 30% in the most recent quarter that ended in July. In recent weeks, Walmart Connect has also:

  • Opened up access to third party sellers by making a tool called Search Brand Amplifier available to brands on its Marketplace, and streamlining the onboarding process for Ad Center.
  • Named API partners that enable it to offer self-service capabilities, and features including recommendations, automation, analytics and optimization. These partners include CommerceIQ, Intentwise, Perpetua, Quartile and Sellozo.
  • Debuted new capabilities for brands to combine Sponsored Products ads and item rewards that extend beyond Walmart as part of the new Walmart+ Rewards program.

Walmart is seeking to make advertising a key part of its digital business. As it grows an ecommerce channel that has more products and attracts more shoppers, advertising becomes more important to stand out, boosting Connect.

“The relationship between digital growth, marketplace growth, advertising is something that we’re trying to take advantage of,” CEO Doug McMillon said on the company's most recent earnings call.

This comes at a time when the first-party data-centered approaches of retail media networks, which allow retailers to introduce advertising to their stores, are becoming more attractive following Apple’s App Tracking Transparency updates that made attribution more difficult in iOS 14.5.

With Walmart Connect's latest partnerships, the nation's largest retailer is sending a signal that it wants to not only to run ads on its own properties, but also take steps to become a full-on adtech network that serves ads across the web. In doing so, the partnerships announced Tuesday show that it is making room for data-driven digital commerce tactics to enter the more entertainment-style social content that is currently proliferating.

While the platforms have experimented with social commerce that embeds checkout directly on platforms, many of the approaches here center ads that direct to sites off-platform to finalize a purchase. Two of the tests ahead lie in determining whether these ads can seamlessly fit into existing viewing experiences on these platforms, and whether Walmart's tools prove to make them effective in targeting audiences and driving conversions.

While much learning remains, it appears brands and retailers are coming to an understanding that a strategy for winning in a world of video-forward social content is not built around a single ecommerce marketplace, but rather the ability to reach consumers where they watch.

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