4 Things to Know Before Advertising on Walmart and Amazon

From keyword bidding to click attribution

walmart amazon
Consider sponsorship, bids and placements between the two giants. Walmart; Amazon

This holiday season, with estimates for online retail growth pegged at 18.5% and ecommerce shopping expected to top out at 35%, sellers stand to rake in over $180 billion over the next few months.

Walmart+, a direct competitor to Amazon Prime, has already locked in 11% of U.S. shoppers or 36 million total subscribers. They have become an online marketplace worth considering for advertisers that want to reach buyers beyond the walls of Amazon.

Each platform as an advertising medium is different. Here’s how advertisers should tailor their approach to each marketplace.

Keyword bidding

The most obvious difference between Amazon and Walmart is in how they handle keyword bidding. Amazon uses “second price” rules, which means the winning bidder for a specific keyword only has to pay one cent over the second-place bid. This is an advantage for big-budget advertisers. They can set bids as high as they like, knowing the price they ultimately pay may be far less.

Walmart uses “first price” rules: If you place the highest bid, you pay what you bid.

Why the difference? Amazon already has plenty of traffic from advertisers. Generating money from sponsored products isn’t a problem for them. Walmart, on the other hand, is still growing its platform. It hopes for higher bid density in the future.

When you adjust bids on Walmart, start low and bid incrementally. On Amazon, the “second price” rules will do that work for you. So, you can start high and optimize down over time with less risk.

Click attribution

Amazon sponsored product attribution works based on clicks; whereas, Walmart attribution considers both clicks and views. Meaning, Amazon will only attribute sales if someone clicks on your ad. Walmart measures attributions if someone merely views your ad, which is a much looser interpretation that makes it harder for advertisers to measure their investment.

Amazon also provides a longer click attribution time of 14 days. So, if shoppers click on a sponsored ad and buy a product within 14 days, that will be attributed to your account. Walmart’s click attribution only lasts three days.

Ad types

On either platform, there are generally three different ad types: sponsored placement (SP), sponsored brands (SBs) and sponsored display (SD). Amazon allows all three. Walmart only allows sponsored placement for now, limiting to two sponsored placements per page.

Walmart’s version of sponsored brands is called Search Brand Amplifier, but it is not available through their self-service model on a cost per click basis. Advertisers must buy impressions from Walmart Media Group. (A WMG representative notes, “Walmart Media Group offers all display, Sponsored Products and Search Brand Amplifier, not just Sponsored Products.”)

This may allow Walmart to restrict the “supply” of advertisements, potentially driving up prices. Walmart may eventually expand to include all of these options, but for now they are tightening competition to SPs and forcing advertisers to guess the winning bid. This will require patience and an incremental approach.

Sponsored product restrictions

On Walmart, brands can only advertise a product if it is available in the top 128 organic rank spots for that keyword. Amazon does not place such restrictions on advertisers. As a result, on Walmart this makes it hard to move new SKUs through sponsored search placements if relevancy has not been established for important keywords. It also means that Walmart’s organic results do not allow competitor placements.

On Amazon, if brands advertise a SKU it could appear twice in the search results. Once as a sponsored placement and again as an organic search result, and there is a correlation between the two rankings. On Walmart, if brands advertise a product it will simply boost the ranking towards the top of the page and show it once.

Himanshu Jain is head of advertising at CommerceIQ.