Walmart Marketplace: Essential Insights for Walmart Sellers

Navigating the dynamic landscape of e-commerce advertising presents its own set of challenges. Staying well-informed, adaptable, and ahead of industry trends is crucial for achieving success. In the ever-evolving world of online advertising, one noteworthy trend is the surge in popularity of advertising on Walmart Connect. Given its substantial digital audience of 120 million unique visitors monthly, connecting with the Walmart audience has become an increasingly pivotal aspect of successful advertising strategies. 

Our team recently had the opportunity to chat with Michael Mosser, Vice President of Categories at Walmart Marketplace and Kyle McWhirter, Senior Director & Head of Emerging Sales at Walmart Connect. During our discussions, we delved into effective strategies, best practices, and insightful predictions tailored for Walmart Sellers. 

Emerging Trends in E-commerce Advertising 

Within the dynamic landscape of e-commerce advertising, Kyle highlighted the rise of personalized, data-driven advertising and underscored the significance of seamlessly integrating omnichannel strategies. Notably, Walmart Connect is proactively adapting to these shifts by augmenting its targeting capabilities and furnishing sellers with tools designed to harness these trends effectively.  

Staying Relevant & Effective  

As the e-commerce landscape undergoes constant evolution, sellers must prioritize customer-centric approaches. This involves a deep understanding of their target audience, the strategic use of data-driven insights, and the creation of compelling ad creatives. Maintaining agility and adeptly adapting to market changes are pivotal elements for ensuring long-term success in this dynamic environment. 

Budgeting and ROI Best Practices 

Emphasizing the critical aspects of effective advertising, Kyle underscored the importance of establishing clear goals, vigilant monitoring of campaign performance, and optimizing ad spend accordingly. Sellers are advised to concentrate on ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) metrics, remaining prepared to adjust budgets based on both campaign performance and prevailing seasonal trends. This strategic approach ensures a dynamic and responsive advertising strategy aligned with overarching business objectives. 

Effective Mobile Advertising 

Given the increasing prevalence of mobile shopping and app-based experiences, sellers must prioritize optimizing their ads for mobile devices. This entails employing mobile-friendly ad formats, ensuring fast-loading pages, and crafting an overall seamless user experience. By aligning advertising strategies with the mobile-centric preferences of consumers, sellers can enhance engagement and maximize the effectiveness of their campaigns in this evolving landscape. 

Key Announcement from the Event 

Announcements made during the first-ever Walmart Marketplace Seller Summit included:  

  • Expanding beyond its current markets in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., Walmart is set to launch a marketplace in Chile in early 2024. This move will allow eligible cross-border sellers to access and engage with the Chilean market through Walmart’s platform. 
  • Walmart is actively expanding its Brand Shops initiative, offering dedicated digital storefronts where brands can effortlessly create curated pages. Brands can utilize features like Brand Shelves to showcase curated assortments or experiment with seasonal collections. These tools aim to enhance discoverability and improve the overall customer experience on the platform. 
  • Fulfillment can often be one of the biggest challenges for any retailer. Walmart’s advanced supply chain is helping sellers reduce costs while providing customers convenience. Walmart blazed a trail in pickup and delivery, perfecting the systems and technology needed to provide a great customer experience. Now they’re bringing this expertise to sellers by standing up local pickup and delivery for sellers who have physical stores. Customers can pick up their items directly or have same-day delivery through our last-mile delivery network. This will lower sellers’ fulfillment costs, create new ways to convert sales and delight customers along the way. 

Check out the full recap here.  

Predictions for the Future of E-commerce 

Moving forward, Kyle foresees continued growth in e-commerce with a strong emphasis on sustainability and social responsibility. This suggests a trend towards more environmentally conscious and socially responsible practices within the e-commerce industry. 

Learn More 

Watch the full interview with Michael Mosser and Kyle McWhirter on LinkedIn.   

Contact us today to learn more about the Pacvue Platform and how our team can help scale your brand across dozens of retailers.  

Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Key Trends and Insights from Europe

Cyber 5 took on a new look this year in Europe with Amazon kicking off its Black Friday Deals a week before Black Friday. The extended 11-day deal period followed the trend set by Amazon to increase the number of deal days, such as its addition of a second Prime Day this year. Brands took advantage of the extended sales period and spent more on advertising than in previous years —in both the lead up and lead out of Cyber 5. Despite this increased spend, Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) was down from previous years as brands were hit by higher ad costs. Below we cover the insights and trends from the events to help you better prepare for next year’s tent pole event.  

Key Takeaways 

  • Advertising spend for Sponsored Products increased 30% year-over-year for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Sponsored Brands spend declined by 1% on Black Friday but increased 22% compared to Cyber Monday 2022.  
  • European Advertisers still favour Sponsored Products, spending nearly five times more over Sponsored Brands.  
  • Advertising competitiveness and costs rose with CPCs across Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Products up 18% on average over Cyber 5 compared to 2022.  
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) for both ad formats were down 9% on average over Cyber 5 from last year for Sponsored Brands and 3% for Sponsored Products.  

Advertising Spend 

Advertisers in Europe kicked off the Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending far earlier this year to align to Amazon’s updated format of the shopping event. Spend spiked on first day of the sales event and remained inflated in the lead up to Black Friday compared to 2022.  

Spend for Sponsored Products increased by 30% year-over-year for Black Friday as advertisers looked to maximize conversion opportunities.  

Advertisers in Europe did not increase Sponsored Brands spend this year, with spend dropping by 1%. This stands out when compared to the US where brands on average increased Sponsored Brands budgets by 60% year-over-year, highlighting the lag in adoption of new product offerings like Sponsored Video ads and Product Collections. Brands once again prioritized Black Friday over Cyber Monday, spending 52% more for the Friday sales day. 

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Cost Per Click 

Advertising competitiveness (Cost –Per Click) was up in the lead up to Black Friday. CPC saw a spike on the first day of the sales event for both Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands and remained relatively consistent until peaking on Black Friday. As more advertisers looked to cash in on the 11-day sales event, CPCs were significantly higher than in 2022.  

CPC on Black Friday was up 16% year-over-year and up 18% for Cyber Monday for Sponsored Products.  

CPC for Sponsored Brands increased 25% year-over-year for Black Friday and 26% for Cyber Monday.  

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Return on Ad Spend and Conversion Rates 

Return on Ad Spend took a hit in 2023 across the 11-day deal period. Sponsored Products were down 8% for Black Friday and 5% for Cyber Monday. Sponsored Brands fell even further down 22% for Black Friday and 11% for Cyber Monday.  

Conversion Rates were down on Black Friday for Sponsored Products but saw a spike on Cyber Monday as consumers held out for the best possible deals. For Sponsored Brands, conversion rates were down slightly by 2.3% compared to 2022 on Black Friday and saw a marginal rise of 1.2% for Cyber Monday.   

With the rising ad costs and more advertisers competing for ad placements, the fall in ROAS is not surprising. As more advertisers compete for ad placements, brands will need to become savvy in their advertising strategy by taking advantage of a variety of ad placements, using budget tools like dayparting to maximize spend during high converting hours and utilizing DSP to retarget customers after key sales events.  

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Final Thoughts 

As Amazon continues to increase its number of deal days and the cost of advertising rises, brands will need to think carefully about how they split their advertising budgets over the extended period.  

Advertisers will need to prioritize spend throughout the lead up and lead out of the event to maximize brand awareness and take advantage of better conversion rates outside of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  

Be sure to check out our full 2023 Holiday Hub with insights into US performance and tips to help you maximize sales opportunities heading into 2024.  

Insights from Cyber Monday 2023

The weeklong surge of digital deals reached its peak on Cyber Monday. While many brands are extending their deals throughout the week, let’s put the spotlight on Cyber Monday. Following Adobe’s report of a record-breaking Black Friday sales event, reaching $9.8 billion, expectations for Cyber Monday were notably heightened. 

As we explore the initial data, Cyber Monday exceeded Black Friday’s spending, reaching a record-breaking $12.4 billion (according to Adobe). Shoppers did not hold back, spending around $15.7 million every minute during the peak sales hours. Even more impressive is the fact that sales from Sponsored Ads saw a 16% year-over-year increase from 2022. 

Cyber Monday Key Takeaways

  • There was a notable increase in Cost Per Click (CPC) for Sponsored Brands, rising by 30% compared to last year, while Sponsored Products CPC saw a more moderate increase of 10%.
  • As brands continue to shift budgets to retail media from PPC and social, advertising spend saw a substantial increase, jumping by 60% for Sponsored Brands and 47% for Sponsored Products compared to the previous year (2022).
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) has seen a decline, down by 15% for Sponsored Products and 30% for Sponsored Brands year-over-year, with increased ad costs and higher product prices due to inflation. Check back later for our full ROAS analysis as additional data is collected in the attribution window. 

As we continue to analyze the data throughout the week, let’s delve into the current outlook from Cyber Monday.

CPC

Sponsored Brands CPC experienced a notable year-over-year increase of 30%, showcasing advertisers actively capitalizing on new product offerings. Conversely, Sponsored Products CPC saw a slight uptick for Cyber Monday, registering a 10% increase compared to 2022.

Cyber Monday placements proved to be more competitive than those on Black Friday, as brands sought to capture consumer spending in the final sales before Christmas. CPC was up 14% for Sponsored Brands and 8% for Sponsored Products.

Advertising Spend

On average, brands allocated a higher budget for Sponsored Products Ads on Cyber Monday compared to Black Friday in 2023. However, Sponsored Brands spend remained consistent across both days.

2022 IAB Study reported that more than half of retail media ad buyers would reallocate funds from social, PPC and digital video to retail media, increasing spend by 11% on average. We witnessed this surge on Cyber Monday, particularly in Amazon Sponsored Ad spending. Sponsored Brands experienced a 60% increase, while Sponsored Products saw a 47% rise compared to 2022. The spending increase for Sponsored Brands was driven by the adoption of new product offerings, such as Sponsored Video ads and Product Collections.

As of 12/09, our final data set showed ad spend was up this Cyber 5, and on Black Friday, ad spend for Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands rose 55% and 61%, respectively, YoY. On Cyber Monday, ad spend increased 60% YoY for Sponsored Brands, and 47% for Sponsored Products vs 2022.

Return on Advertising Spend and Conversion Rates

As of Tuesday, our data shows that ROAS was down 15% for Sponsored Products and down 30% for Sponsored Brands. We anticipate this downward trend to level as additional data is collected within the attribution window.

Conversion rates for both Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands have remained flat year-over-year. However, with ongoing data collection, we anticipate that the conversion rates will likely outperform those of 2022.

Conclusion

Brands continued to prioritize spending on Cyber Monday over Black Friday, aiming to capitalize on one of the biggest sales events of the year. This strategy proved successful, with average sales from Sponsored Ads on Cyber Monday growing 16% from 2022. 

As brands continue to reallocate budgets from social and PPC, retail media witnessed another surge in spending this year. A significant portion of the additional spend was directed towards Sponsored Brands Ads, with brands leveraging new product offerings for Sponsored Brands Ad placements.

As we enter the final weeks of the year, it’s important for brands to prioritize the analysis of data from Cyber-5 and leverage retargeting through DSP and AMC.

Be sure to check back next week, as we will be publishing a comprehensive report from Cyber -5, providing in-depth insights into categories and DSP performance. 

Insights from Black Friday 2023

The turkey has been devoured, the games have concluded, and a new era of Black Friday is upon us. Gone are the days of braving the early morning chill and camping outside stores for Black Friday deals. The era of in-person bargain hunting has transformed into a more convenient and digital experience, all from the comfort of one’s home.  

This transformation has not only influenced how consumers shop but also prompted changes in retail strategies. These strategies propelled sales across the board, with Adobe reporting a record-breaking Black Friday sales event with $9.8 billion in sales, marking a 7.5% increase from the previous year.  

Black Friday Key Takeaways 

  • Advertising costs for Sponsored Brands placements saw a notable surge, rising by 17% from 2022. In contrast, costs for Sponsored Products saw a more modest increase of 4%. Overall, there was a general uptick in costs in the days leading up to Black Friday compared to last year. 
  • Advertisers spent, on average, 55% more on Sponsored Products and 61% more on Sponsored Brands compared to 2022. Black Friday saw dramatic increases in ad spend between Thursday and Friday, up between 80-90% day-over-day for both placement types. 
  • Despite increased spend, directional conversion rates indicate that ad conversion was lower this year than in 2022 for Sponsored Products, down 5.1% and Sponsored Brands placements down 3.8% from last year. This could be the result of higher prices due to inflation and consumers holding out to see if better deals arise during Cyber Monday.  
  • DSP saw a decrease in spend for Black Friday and a 10% drop in eCPM compared to 2022, indicating that advertisers are shifting their DSP spend strategies to prioritize the lead up and lead out.  

Let’s examine some of the data points and trends observed during Black Friday 2023. 

Advertising Costs and Competitiveness 

Advertising competitiveness CPC for Sponsored Brands was relatively stable on Black Friday, with CPC only increasing 4% from 2022 and 11% from the previous day. Brands seemed to favor ad spend in the lead-up to Black Friday, with competitiveness up on average 24% year over year in the seven days prior to the Friday sale.  

Brands were competing heavily for Sponsored Brands placements, with CPC up 17% year over year, taking costs 30% above those for Sponsored Products. This indicates a shift in advertisers’ strategies to favor Sponsored Brands placements for tentpole events.  

Return on Advertising Spend 

As of Monday advertisers saw a dip in Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) this Black Friday, but these numbers are likely to shift as more data comes in. Early results show Sponsored Products were hit hardest this year, with ROAS dipping by 34% from 2022, down to below the five-dollar mark. Sponsored Brands followed a similar trend, declining 27% year-over-year to just below four dollars and fifty cents. While brands spent more than ever this Black Friday to combat rising advertising costs, higher CPCs and lower conversion rates caused ROAS to take a hit this Black Friday, with lower ROAS coming in –14% lower than the July Prime Day event. Overall ROAS remained relatively flat week-over-week, increasing 4%  for Sponsored Products and 10% for Sponsored Brands.  

Advertising Spend 

Advertising spend reached new highs this year, suggesting that brands were anticipating higher CPCs for Black Friday which did not materialize. Sponsored Products ad spend averages were up 55% year-over-year, and even bigger increases were seen for Sponsored Brand Ads, up 61% from 2022. 

Advertisers bet big on Black Friday, with Sponsored Products ad spend increasing 91% and Sponsored Brands spend up 82% day over day from Thursday.  

Advertisers effectively used Dayparting to manage budget distribution throughout the day and it paid off. Advertisers prioritized spend between 7-10 am PST on Black Friday, which aligned to the sales peak between 7-8 am PST. Conversion saw a steady decline as the day progressed despite spend increasing between 5-6 pm PST, indicating shoppers favored snagging morning deals.   

Conversion Rates

The directional trend for conversion rates shows a downward trend for both Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands compared to 2022. While we still await the full attribution report from the 14-day lookback window, the results indicate that Sponsored Products (17.37% conversion) narrowly outperformed Sponsored Brands (16.95%) on Black Friday and in the week leading up to the event. Check back in next week once we have data from the full lookback window, as conversion trends may shift.  

DSP

DSP ad spend, on average, stayed consistent compared to the prior day, with a –15% reduction in average Black Friday spend compared to the prior year. This did result in lower average DSP-attributed sales for Black Friday so far (-25%), though sales were up +64% from Thanksgiving. We expect the year-over-year numbers will level out once we’re through the full attribution window for display.  CPMs did increase on Black Friday compared to the average for Thanksgiving and the lead-up as competition increased into the peak of the tentpole period, though surprisingly, CPMs remained –10% below the average for the previous year – again marking a shift in how advertisers are utilizing DSP tactics for promo pushes.   

New Ad Formats 

For the first time, Amazon aired an NFL game on Black Friday. While sponsored TV ads are not groundbreaking, Amazon is innovating in how it approaches advertising. Specifically, Amazon is utilizing “audience-based creative,” enabling tailored messaging and actions for different audience segments within the same time slot. This utilizes first-party customer data for precise targeting. This approach enables brands to engage with viewers interested in specific product categories or content types available on Amazon, increasing relevance and capturing potential customers. As our Co-Founder and President, Melissa Burdick, highlights, “In an environment where every advertising dollar is scrutinized, this will be a highly measurable win for brands.” 

Amazon’s cost-effective advertising, combined with measurable outcomes, has the potential to attract a broad range of advertisers, extending beyond traditional big brands. This approach allows for a direct correlation between ad spend and actual sales, presenting an appealing proposition for marketers across diverse industry verticals. As Burdick notes, “What’s most impressive is Amazon’s ability to hyper-target and display ads based on a customer’s search history — truly a marketer’s dream.” Positioned as a potential game-changer for digitally influenced sales, the streaming format of the game during Black Friday offers a unique opportunity for real-time advertising impact on shoppers, both online and in physical stores.  

Final Thoughts

Overall, brands were not shy about their ad investments this Black Friday, boasting the highest ad spend in the past three years. There was a noticeable strategic shift in how brands allocated their ad budgets during the lead-up, with a consistent uptick in spending this year across sponsored placements and DSP. 

The introduction of new product offerings for Sponsored Brands Placements, such as Brand Videos and Product Collections, prompted advertisers to increase their spending on this ad type. Black Friday 2023 witnessed the debut of Sponsored TV Ads, and while results are still pending, there is anticipation that more brands will capitalize on this innovative, hyper-targeted format. 

Be sure to stay connected with Pacvue on LinkedIn as we publish more data and insights from Cyber-5.  

Final Prep for Cyber 5 2023: Quick Tips for Brand Success

Cyber 5 is just around the corner, and while you likely have your strategy in place, don’t forget to take into account these last-minute tips and tricks. Leveraging the trends from Cyber 5, 2022 is a great place to start.  In 2022, advertisers spent slightly less on Black Friday, with more budget being spent throughout the Cyber 5 weekend. CPCs also decreased significantly year-over-year for both Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands ads in the lead-in to Black Friday and throughout the Cyber 5 weekend, but those CPCs have been trending back up over the past year.   

What to do now 

To fully capitalize on Cyber 5, brands and agencies need a strategic roadmap to succeed. Breaking down your efforts across key stages, before, during, and after Cyber 5 will help you drive better results year-over-year.  

Check Retail Readiness

The retail readiness of your advertised ASINs is foundational to success year-round but is even more critical during Q4. To maximize sales from the increased Q4 traffic, advertisers want to make sure their product detail pages (PDPs) are built to convert. Insert your advertised ASINs into Pacvue’s Brand Audit tool and identify what areas of your ASINs PDP page need to be improved in preparation for Q4. This audit can be run portfolio-wide against a target Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) or Advertising Cost of Sale (ACoS). 

Expand on ASIN Targeting Campaigns

During the lead-up to Cyber 5, there will be increased traffic to PDPs. Take advantage of increased traffic to PDP by targeting the detail pages of relevant ASINs, as well as your competitors. Monthly Units and Revenue can be a proxy metric for ASIN traffic. Use the units or revenue filters to show that they are likelier to have higher traffic volume. 

Start Planning Your Daily Spend

Now is the time to ensure your daily spend is ready to go over the next couple of weeks. Start by analyzing historical metrics to identify the days with the most potential to capture sales. By ramping up your efforts early and gradually, you can drive more efficient CPCs, optimizing your advertising spend. Additionally, having a well-thought-out lead-out plan is essential for capturing late purchasers who might be seeking last-minute deals. Use Pacvue’s budget calendar and dayparting to plan budgets and bids with automation to improve efficiency, ensuring you’re positioned for success during the Black Friday Cyber Monday rush. 

The Budget Calendar Template in the Budget Manager allows brands to allocate specific budget allocations to specific days. It may make sense to do an even budget distribution during “normal” months. However, during Q4, which contains important sales events like Cyber 5, brands may want to strategically allocate a custom budget to key periods. We recommend setting up a custom calendar template for Q4, which distributes more budget to Cyber 5 and less funding during the post-Christmas wind-down. 

Use the Dayparting Scheduler

Schedule temporary bid increases during Cyber 5 and have Pacvue automatically revert bids to the original pre-Cyber Five bids.   

Identify Keyword Seasonality Trends

Use the Category Intelligence tool or Holiday Keywords to identify search volume trends over the past year for a handful of your highest search volume terms. Use the ‘My Queries’ filter to see the keywords that you are currently bidding on. Then use search volume trends to help with Q4 bidding and budgeting strategies. Use last year’s search volume trends to identify peak weeks to increase bids and budget. 

During Cyber 5 

During Cyber 5, stay vigilant and adaptable. Track your inventory levels throughout the day, respond promptly to customer queries, and monitor your sales performance in real-time. If necessary, adjust prices dynamically. However, make sure you’re compliant with Amazon’s fair pricing policies. 

Monitoring during Cyber 5

Monitoring all your bases is key to a successful Cyber 5. Once all your deals and promos are live, marketplace price tracking is essential to prevent revenue leakage. Whether you exceed your performance expectations or struggle to hit your targets, have a plan to alter your discounts and prevent a dip in sales. 

One of the most vital tasks to maximize conversions is to monitor the Buy Box. Experienced sellers know the value of keeping an eye on unauthorized third-party sellers and any counterfeit products that may be stealing your consumer base. 

Your brand’s consistency drives returning customers, so communicating strategy changes to your media team is an important step to keeping everyone on the same page with all discounts and deals.  

After Cyber 5 

Once the whirlwind of Cyber 5 is over, it’s time for introspection. Analyze your performance to understand what worked and what didn’t. Restock your inventory based on observed sales patterns and customer feedback and refine your future strategies. Focus on nurturing your relationship with your customers —thank them for their purchase, invite them to leave reviews, and handle any post-sale issues efficiently. Also, don’t overlook the financial aspects, including processing returns and reconciling any fees or charges by Amazon. 

Ramp up retargeting campaigns

Sponsored Display and Amazon DSP ads are trial-and-error-based campaigns. Brands can leverage their retargeting campaigns to encourage potential customers to buy their brand even after the sale has ended. By retargeting the same pool of consumers and potential consumers, you encourage brand loyalty, improve the chance of gaining subscription purchases, and build recall value.   

Post-Mortem Reporting

There are elevated levels of traffic for days after Cyber 5 that you can grab to drive more growth and push unsold stock. Post-mortem reporting is non-negotiable, and it includes 5 fundamental steps you can do to understand your business better and ensure continued profitability. 

  1. Performance evaluation to pinpoint what worked and what did not
  2. Post-Cyber 5 promos to cross any milestones that you couldn’t while the sale was live
  3. Product supply management according to your inventory strategy for upcoming sales 
  4. Remarketing to unsatisfied shoppers with surprise deals and limited-time offers 
  5. Future planning to get a head start on 2024 

This allows you to create a cheat sheet that’s unique to your business, helps you understand the effectiveness of your promos, and skyrockets reach, both organic and paid, in the long run. A combination of micro and macro changes will guide your brand for Cyber 5 2023.

CMO Strategies: Beyond Amazon, the strengths of the top retail media networks — from Amazon to Target

Keeping the complexities of marketing channels in mind, Glossy+ Research has analyzed strategies and challenges across leading marketing channels — like programmatic display and social media — to identify key trends and best practices in our CMO Strategies series

In this installment, Glossy+ Research deepens its analysis of major retail media networks, including Walmart Connect, Target’s Roundel and Kroger Precision Marketing. Our first report on retail media analyzed the retail media landscape and its role in marketers’ playbooks, including a spotlight on Amazon.

Retailers turning their e-commerce sites into media platforms isn’t a new idea, but over the last several years retail media has been receiving more interest from brands. That’s thanks in large part to the enormous ad business Amazon has built. However, other retailers like Walmart, Target and Instacart have also been expanding their retail media platforms, with some seeing results at pre-pandemic levels and others experiencing major growth in performance metrics. 

In July, commerce acceleration platform Pacvue published its Q2 2023 advertising results across Amazon, Walmart and Instacart and found a shift in brands investing more in sponsored ads and increasing targeting on the three retail platforms. Walmart is also one of the top three platforms U.S. shoppers turn to when they begin their online product searches: 61% turn to Amazon; 49% to a search engine like Google; and 32% to Walmart.com, according to eMarketer.

Likewise, grocery store chains are becoming attractive retail media network (RMN) partners for brands thanks to consumer purchase frequency, which gives grocers more data on how their customers shop compared to other retailers. And grocers Krogers and Albertsons Companies are poised to change the retail media landscape even further with an impending 2024 merger. According to the companies, the combined entity would reach approximately 85 million households — and presumably the associated data. 

“We can’t ignore the importance of consumer data collection via RMNs,” said Maren Kelly, vp of marketing at brand commerce platform PriceSpider. “Brand demand for this type of data is expected to increase as brands realize the limitations posed by the demise of third-party cookies and privacy regulations. They’ll need to turn to marketing channels that offer data to help with enhanced audience targeting and personalized advertising experiences.”

Currently, retail media is marketers’ third most used advertising channel, according to Glossy+ Research’s CMO Strategies survey. Glossy’s survey found that over a third of marketers (38%) said they use retail media advertising, putting it just behind display ads (61% of respondents) and social media (97% of respondents) as a top marketing channel.

Over a third of companies use retail media channels

Source:  Glossy+ Research, 2023 | Q: Which of the following marketing channels does your company currently use?

However, PriceSpider’s Kelly said that retail media could eventually overtake display ads if online buying trends across generations continue. “In the U.S., millennials and Gen X are followed by Gen Z and baby boomers in digital buying rank,” she said. “As we consider the next few years of growth among these shoppers, we may see retail media move up above display ads as shoppers choose to start their product browsing, researching and comparing on retailers versus Google.com.”

Methodology

To map out marketers’ current digital playbook, Glossy+ Research sent out three surveys asking 635 respondents about past and upcoming investments, marketing channel tactics, preferences and business challenges. 

Glossy+ Research also conducted a focus group and individual interviews with marketing executives across industries.

Unpacking Walmart Connect – the top RMN after Amazon

Setting aside Amazon for this analysis, Walmart’s Walmart Connect and Target’s Roundel were marketers’ second- and third-most-used retail media networks at 24% and 21% of respondents respectively.

Walmart Connect and Roundel are main big-box RMN players

Source: Glossy+ Research, 2023 | Q: Which retail media channel(s), if any, does your company currently use? Select all that apply.

Walmart, for its part, has successfully expanded its ad business since rebranding its retail media network to Walmart Connect in 2021. According to commerce acceleration platform Pacvue’s Q2 2023 advertising results, Walmart Connect saw a 125% year-over-year increase in clickthrough rates and a 40% increase in return on ad spend in the second quarter of 2023.

Pacvue attributed Walmart Connect’s growth to tweaks Walmart has made to its algorithm and bid rules and features. In July 2022, Walmart added a number of API partners to Walmart Connect to improve the creative appeal of the ads being served to customers. The retailer also implemented a second-price auction that improved ROAS, according to an October report by Insider Intelligence. However, Pacvue also noted a decrease in ROAS of 4.8% quarter-over-quarter by Q3 2023, which it said seemed to signal a plateau in the results of efforts made by Walmart Connect earlier this year.

Pacvue’s Q3 advertising results also found that Walmart Connect’s average cost-per-click at 61 cents was significantly lower than the average Amazon Sponsored Products CPC, which came in at almost $1.30, at the time of measurement. Clickthrough rates were marketers’ third-most-used KPI for retail media, according to Glossy’s survey results, with 17% of respondents saying clickthroughs were their main measurement of success for ads placed on RMNs. Lower CPC rates combined with Walmart Connect’s Q2 125% year-over-year increase in clickthrough rates demonstrates the effectiveness of its advertising platform, making Walmart Connect more appealing to marketers. 

As the second most used RMN after Amazon, Walmart Connect also has access to swaths of consumer data that can be used for ad targeting and personalization. With data privacy laws becoming stricter and Google continuing to inch the industry closer to the end of the third-party cookie in 2024, access to a network with customer purchase data is an attractive alternative.

PriceSpider’s Kelly said a positive attribute of Walmart Connect is that it provides access to first-party data on customer transactions, loyalty programs, in-store purchase and online browsing behavior and online search and browsing behavior. However, some of PriceSpider’s clients have expressed concerns about the level of data Walmart shares with them on RMN performance and demographics, as well as the platform’s overall sophistication and ad opportunities. While Walmart has had an online marketplace for over a decade, it has historically offered fewer services to third-party sellers than Amazon. For instance, Walmart only launched a fulfillment service for third-party sellers in 2020.

“When compared to the options available on Amazon, for example, Walmart Connect has been playing catch-up in terms of its platform offering and aligning with brands’ specific advertising objectives and requirements for retail media network spend,” Kelly said.

According to Pacvue, advertisers are spending more on Walmart Connect, with average ad spend increasing 14.5% year-over-year and 2.2% quarter-over-quarter. However, when Walmart disclosed its revenue from its media and advertising business for the first time last year, that number totaled $2.1 billion, which is only about 1.4% of Walmart’s annual revenue.

Kelly noted that while Walmart has been vocal about U.S. shoppers switching to its stores — and likely its in-house brands — given prolonged inflation and economic concerns, that could cause some advertisers to pull back spending on Walmart Connect. “Larger CPG brands typically spend on RMNs,” she said. “However, the recent uptick in shoppers switching to trade downs like Walmart’s Great Value brand could give brands pause on where to spend RMN dollars at a retailer with strong private label preferences among shoppers.”

Verizon Visible’s CMO Cheryl Gresham, who was CMO at Verizon Value at the time of our interview, said her company sells a lot of its products primarily or exclusively at Walmart because of the retailer’s value positioning for brands, including non-CPG brands. “The impact of what we see at Walmart is strong results,” Gresham said. “Whether it’s in store on the video screens, within social, within their search, we’re seeing Walmart being a strong contender in this space.”

Target’s Roundel plays up its data capabilities to appeal to brands

By comparison, Target’s media network Roundel was marketers’ third-most-used RMN, with slightly less than a quarter of respondents (21%) indicating they use it. Target’s respectable third-place standing is due in part to efforts the company has made to expand Roundel’s reach over the past few years.

In 2019, Target rebranded its RMN from Target Media Network to Roundel. At the time, Roundel’s president Kristi Argyilan, who is now svp of retail media at Albertsons Companies, said the rebrand signified a shift in resources to the retailer’s in-house media company. Target expected Roundel to power on-site and in-store advertising, as well as ads that appeared on a curated list of publisher sites in Target’s network, on TV and across other channels. 

And Target’s push to expand Roundel appears to have paid off. During the company’s Q4 2022 earnings call, executives said that Target’s ad business had grown 60% over the last two years. In its Q2 2023 earnings call, the company’s CFO Michael Fiddelke noted that although Target’s total revenue was down 4.9% in the second quarter compared to the same time period last year, “Within other revenue, we continue to see strong growth from our Roundel ad business, which offset declines in credit card profit sharing and other small income items compared with last year.”

Like Walmart Connect, Roundel emphasizes its ability to collect and provide customer data to brands. Roundel taps into Target’s first-party customer data across its online site as well as its mobile app, which can be used to trace customer behavior in stores too. “The most important piece of this business is that our first-party data allows us to base our audiences off of real people,” said Argyilan in 2019. “The results when you market and use data based on real people is significantly better than data pools that are out there.” 

In Target’s 2023 second-quarter earnings call, CEO Brian Cornell said the company has seen “… significant increases across our entire business in all five merchandising categories in both our stores and digital channels and in our Roundel ad business. And this growth reflects an increase in guest engagement, as measured by the number of visits they’re making to Target.” Cornell added, “ … the number of guest trips through the first half of 2023 was more than 169 million higher or more than 21% higher than in 2019.”

An increase in the number of shoppers visiting Target since 2019 presumably means Roundel has more consumer data to offer brands in 2023 than it did four years ago. Roundel also offers brands ad performance reporting on engagement, impressions and sales. However, PriceSpider’s Kelly said some of PriceSpider’s clients have expressed similar concerns about the level of data shared by Roundel as they did about Walmart Connect. 

“For brands, it’s about assessing at which retailers they are most likely to reach their core shopper, the purchasing consumer, and move them successfully through the path to purchase,” Kelly said. “From considering factors such as audience targeting, to campaign performance measurement, to the ability to track and optimize results, brands are really looking to invest retail media network dollars where they will have the flexibility to optimize campaigns inflight and gather data to inform future strategies and spend on retail media networks.”

Overall, Kelly noted that recent data shows Walmart is in a stronger position with consumers headed into 2024 versus Target (though both retailers are presenting cautious outlooks), which could help brands prioritize spending on Walmart Connect over Roundel.

Kroger, Albertsons set to challenge top RMNs after merger

Trailing behind Walmart Connect and Target’s Roundel, Kroger’s Kroger Precision Marketing was selected by less than one-fifth of survey respondents (6%) as a retail media network their company currently uses. However, that may soon change as the grocer is set to grow its RMN, which it launched in 2017, through the company’s impending merger with supermarket giant Albertsons Companies. (Albertsons has its own RMN, Albertsons Media Collective.) The companies have said they expect their merger to be complete in early 2024. 

On its own, Kroger Precision Marketing, reported a 13% rise in engagement from digital shoppers in Q1 2023. Kroger’s CEO Rodney McMullen attributed the increase partially to in-store customers beginning their shopping trips through Kroger’s mobile app or website as they search for online deals and coupons and create curated shopping lists. “We value this behavior as digitally engaged households are more loyal, spend nearly three times more with us and help grow our alternative profit businesses like Kroger Precision Marketing,” McMullen said.

Kroger’s impending merger with Albertsons will, according to experts, bring an increased focus to retail media, and the combined entity may even be able to challenge Walmart Connect by presenting brands with a more compelling ad offering and a greater breadth of data to use in ad targeting. The combined entity will be able to reach approximately 85 million households, according to the two companies when they announced the merger. 

“Retail media is a game that is going to be won or lost based on the scale of data that retailers are able to bring to bear,” said Sean Turner, chief technology officer at Swiftly, a technology platform that works with retailers to power their websites and apps. “This new entity [Kroger-Albertsons] allows them to combine all of the reach, sales and data assets of both Albertsons as well as Kroger to form an even more powerful advertising entity.”

As noted earlier, one obvious edge retail media has over other marketing channels is its access to customer purchase data through sites that are built for commerce. And ahead of their merger, Kroger and Albertsons are two of several retail media network partners that recently collaborated with Omnicom Media Group (OMG) to help it hammer out retail media-related data standards, as outlined in OMG’s Council on Accountability and Standards in Advertising (CASA) retail subgroup. 

Cara Pratt, senior vp of Kroger Precision Marketing, explained the reason her company took part in CASA. “Retail purchase signals hold the potential to transform advertising,” said Pratt. “But today, not every retailer is handling their data with the same accuracy or reliability. We’re at a moment where advertisers need every retail media network to invest the resources and talent it takes to operate a credible media company. As more retailers get serious about media, the impact will resonate across the advertising landscape.”

Instacart makes inroads into the retail media ad market

Although not among the retail media networks included in Glossy+ Research’s answer set, Instacart, which had its IPO in September, is noteworthy for the concerted effort it’s been making within the past year to build its ad business. 

Founded in 2012, Instacart originally forged its reputation by creating a formidable user experience for selling groceries online in the U.S. According to the company’s August 2023 S-1 filing, the platform works with more than 1,400 retail “banners” – essentially brands – across more than 80,000 stores that represent more than 85% of the U.S. grocery industry. 

During the pandemic Instacart benefitted from a boost in home grocery deliveries, but its core delivery business has since slowed and the company is now focused on enhancing its ad options for marketers. In October 2022, Instacart made it easier for brands to launch new deals, promotions and incentives on their Instacart ad campaigns with self-service access and related capabilities. The following month, Instacart introduced shoppable ads and since then has been expanding into different formats including shoppable display, shoppable video and brand pages.

Although Instacart’s ad business is relatively new, it was on an upward trajectory in the first six months of 2023, with ad revenue increasing 24% from $327 million to $406 million. “In the past few years, retail media has grown so much,” said Instacart’s CMO Laura Jones. “It can be such a powerful lever for CPG brands and for their bottom line. For example, we have 6,000 brand partners on our ads platform, and these are CPGs that are being sold on the platform and that are choosing to improve the performance of their sales by investing in our own retail media.” 

However, while ad revenue was up for Instacart, acquisition costs also increased for brands in the first half of the year. According to Pacvue’s Q2 2023 advertising results, the cost-per-acquisition for Instacart Sponsored Ads increased 7% from 99 cents in Q1 2023 to $1.06 in Q2 2023. That could mean trouble for Instacart as marketers told Glossy their biggest concern within retail media was cost of media. Ninety-two percent of respondents to Glossy+ Research’s CMO Strategies survey said cost of media was the biggest challenge they faced with RMNs — also a common concern for marketers across channels.

Cost of media is the biggest challenge

Source: Glossy+ Research, 2023 | Q: What is the biggest challenge you perceive with each of the following retail media networks?

Beyond potential cost of media concerns, Instacart also noted in its S-1 filing that consolidation amongst major retail partners, such as the pending merger between Albertsons and Kroger, could impact “contractual negotiations with such retail partners, result in lower utilization of our products, or lead ultimately to termination of existing retailer engagements.”

Bryan Gildenberg, founder of commerce consultancy Confluence Commerce, agreed that the merger between Albertsons and Kroger could hurt Instacart, because Albertsons is a very large part of Instacart’s current business. “And Kroger’s attitude to Instacart is very different from Albertsons,” Gildenberg said. “Kroger has an infrastructure that is able to do some of the stuff that Instacart does and a preference for trying to solve this problem internally [rather] than go for a third-party.”

Nevertheless, Instacart’s Jones says one of the company’s strengths is that it caters to all brands. “We’re retailer agnostic,” Jones said. “We are always focused on driving the business of our retail partners and providing CPGs with the ability to do national buying across retailers, as opposed to having to go to each different retailer independently. For us, it’s a big investment and part of our vision to power every single grocery transaction.”

With new entrants and international competition, retail media expected to continue its rise

Retail media is expected to keep growing both online and in-stores in the coming years, with more companies investing in retail media networks thanks to digital-first shopping trends and RMNs’ data collection capabilities. Microsoft made the most-recent RMN move in September by launching its Microsoft Retail Advertising Network. Microsoft’s ad platform and its wider range of media buying capabilities with retail media will help level the playing field with rivals, according to Mike Froggatt, a Gartner analyst.  

Retail media networks based outside of the U.S. are also expanding their reach. This was evident in Glossy+ Research’s survey results in which respondents included both China-based Tmall and Latin America’s Mercado Libre among their written-in “other” responses for most-used RMNs. The companies themselves have reported recent expansion plans and financial successes. In June, Tmall’s parent company Alibaba announced that it will launch local versions of the e-commerce site in Europe. In August, Mercado Libre reported in its Q2 filing that its net revenue grew 57.2% year-over-year to reach $3.4 billion. 

In response to retail media’s growth, retailers and agencies are preparing their brands and staff for expanded business opportunities by offering training on retail media tech. Interpublic’s UM opened a space in its New York headquarters where IPG employees and clients can experiment with the latest commerce and retail media tech. Walmart is offering a certification program to educate agencies and brands about Walmart Connect’s capabilities. The retailer will give participants who successfully complete the course LinkedIn-enabled digital credential badges.

Looking to the future, physical stores are poised to be the next major retail media channel, as in-store audiences are substantially larger on average than digital audiences. A November 2022 study by Insider Intelligence found that for 13 leading brick-and-mortar retailers, including Walmart, Target and Kroger, their in-store audiences were on average 70% greater than their digital audiences, citing data from Placer.ai and Comscore Media Metrix Multi-Platform. 

Many digital surfaces inside of stores, including brand displays on shelves and video advertisements on TVs, are expected to get frequent exposure, according to the study. 

“Retailers tend to think about people in stores as foot traffic, but they also need to be looked at as eyeballs for brand advertisers,” said Andrew Lipsman, principal analyst for retail and e-commerce at Insider Intelligence. “Retail media has always been looked at in terms of search and bottom of the funnel, closed-loop performance — and it should be all of that. It is very much true to the initial value proposition of retail media. But it’s becoming a full-funnel marketing opportunity.”

Insights from Prime Big Deal Days

With the holiday shopping season starting earlier and earlier, Amazon kicked off its two-day Prime Big Deal Days event for the second year in a row on October 10-11. Previously known as the Prime Early Access Sale in 2022, the second Amazon Prime sale of the year allowed Prime Members to start holiday shopping earlier this year by offering deep discounts on brands like Dyson, Sony, Barbie, SharkNinja, iRobot, LG, Peloton, Jabra and Betty Buzz by Blake Lively. Adding to the pre-holiday sales spree, Target held its Circle Week, and Walmart rolled out its Deals Holiday Kickoff event during the same period.    

During these major shopping events, brands face higher levels of competition and go head-to-head for market share, making their advertising strategy a make-or-break factor in their overall sales revenue. So, what trends did we see?    

About the report 

Pacvue and Helium10 serve thousands of brands and agencies that sell on Amazon, so we took a deep dive into the Amazon sales event’s performance to break down the trends and key insights. To measure performance, we compared the seven days leading up to the event for week-over-week data, starting October 3, to the two days during which the sale event was running, on October 10-11. We also looked at a year-over-year comparison of this year’s sale event with the 2022 Prime Early Access Sale and the Prime Day event on July 11-12 earlier this year.   

Increased Ad Spend   

In terms of ad spend, Prime Big Deal Days saw advertisers invest more in the October event with a 35% increase in ad spend year-over-year between both ad types, but spend was down 41% compared to the July Prime Day event.   

Both ad products increased ad spend significantly during the event, with Sponsored Products up 251% week-over-week on the first day of Prime Day and up 203% on the second day. Sponsored Products ad spend increased 37% year-over-year on the first day and 21% year-over-year on the second day of Prime Big Deal Days.       

Sponsored Brands ad spend was up 301% week-over-week on the first day of Prime Big Deal Days and up 209% on the second day. Sponsored Brands ad spend increased 58% year-over-year on the first day and 25% year-over-year on the second day of Prime Big Deal Days.     

With ad spend trending up year-over-year for tentpole shopping events, brands should plan to increase ad spend to similar or higher levels than the July Prime Day event. Brands should also consider improving product descriptions, A+ content, and high-quality product images to convert more customers.  

To make your ads more efficient during Cyber 5, start preparing your campaign budgets now to be ready for any sharp increases in spend during the event. To prepare beforehand, use automation to set a budget template for Cyber 5 and apply it across all your campaigns. You can schedule budget increases ahead of time for a set number of days, with lead-in and lead-out, and reuse the same settings again. You can also use features like Pacvue’s Budget Auto-Refill to set parameters to automatically refill campaign budgets when they run out, but only if your campaign hits your preset performance goals. 

A graph of salesDescription automatically generated

Cost-per-click up YoY, down from July Prime Day    

The cost-per-click for Sponsored Products saw a 42% increase week-over-week, reaching an average CPC of $1.79 on both days of Prime Big Deal Days. Looking at the past two Prime Day events, Sponsored Products saw a 4% increase year-over-year but a –19% decrease compared to the July 2023 Prime Day.  

Sponsored Brands followed a similar trend. Cost-per-click increased 42% week-over-week on the first day, followed by a 25% increase on the second day, with an average CPC of $2.41. Year-over-year, CPC increased by 8% but was –11% lower compared to the July 2023 Prime Day.   

Overall, CPC saw significant increases week-over-week and year-over-year for both ad types. Still, the average CPC remained considerably lower than the July Prime Day event, suggesting less competition during this event.  

While it is impossible to predict if cost-per-click will be higher or lower than last year’s Cyber 5 event, the average CPC trended up over the past two Prime Day events. To stay competitive, set up rules for the lead-in, Cyber 5, and the lead-out, such as higher maximum CPC or expected impressions. You can also use Pacvue’s rules to automatically revert bids to pre-event levels once the event ends.      

A graph with numbers and a line of linesDescription automatically generated with medium confidence

Decline in ROAS

Despite a significant year-over-year increase in ad spend, the Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) for Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands took a hit during Prime Big Deal Days.   

For Sponsored Products, ROAS decreased –10% year-over-year and were –7% lower than the July event, with the average ROAS of $4.99. For Sponsored Brands, ROAS decreased –5% year-over-year and were -23% lower than the July event, with the average ROAS of $4.98.   

Even though brands invested more in the event than last year, the surge in ad spend did not translate into proportionate returns on ad spend. Advertisers should continue to refine their ad strategies to maintain efficiency amidst increasing competition and have a solid post-event strategy ready to launch after Cyber 5. Brands can leverage retargeting campaigns to encourage potential customers to buy from their brand even after the sale has ended and maximize ROAS.  

Category Results

The Toys & Games category had some of the most significant shifts in performance out of all categories during the October Prime event. Ad spend increased the most out of all categories compared to last year, increasing 159%.   

However, the cost-per-click also increased the most year-over-year, rising by 57.5% for an average CPC of $0.73 during the two-day event. While advertisers were willing to invest more into the event, there was a significant decrease in return on ad spend (ROAS), which dropped by 50.2% year-over-year. Overall, the Toys & Games category saw a 28.8% increase in sales this year.     

Baby Products, on the other hand, saw nearly opposite performance results. Ad spend only increased a modest 15% year-over-year, one of the lowest increases out of all categories, but ROAS increased 74%, and sales saw an impressive 101% increase. The cost-per-click for Baby Products saw mixed results, decreasing -4.5% on day one but increased 24.5% on day two for an average CPC of $1.68.     

Prepping for Cyber 5

Now that the holiday shopping season has started, here are a few tips to help brands using Pacvue optimize Amazon Ads campaigns in the lead-out from Q4 shopping events. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the holiday season, but those with a solid strategy typically see success.  

Contact us today to learn more about the Pacvue Platform and how our team can help scale your brand on Amazon and across dozens of retailers in Q4.

Prep for Prime Day 2023: Strategies for Brand Success

As brand marketers, understanding the dynamics of Prime Day and developing effective strategies is crucial to seizing the opportunities presented during Prime Day.

This year, Amazon has confirmed a date for Prime Day 2023, starting at 3 a.m. EDT from July 11-12 and spanning multiple countries across the globe.

EMarketer’s latest Insider Intelligence report reveals that Prime Day 2023 not only represents a huge surge of activity for brands to capitalize on, but also as a key test of consumer confidence for the rest of 2023, particularly as economic uncertainties and high prices have put shoppers in deal-seeking mode. Brands and retailers hoping to capitalize on the spike in demand need to execute the right strategies to outperform the competition.

Before Prime Day, it’s crucial to have team-wide alignment on the attainable goals you are targeting.  

You might aim to increase sales, clear out old inventory, or promote new products during the event. Goals should be specific, measurable, and realistic, such as achieving a specific percentage increase in sales compared to the previous Prime Day, increasing the average order value, gaining a certain number of new customers, or selling a targeted number of items from a specific product line.

Once you’ve set your goals, take the necessary steps to achieve them.  

This may involve optimizing your listings, creating enticing promotions, adjusting your pricing strategies, and strengthening your advertising efforts.  

We’ve already shared a Six-Step Playbook for Success and our Prime Day Prep Guide, but now we will detail how to execute strategies specific to your inventory management, content optimizations, and advertising campaigns to drive even greater results in mid-July.   

Best Strategies for Prime Day 2023 Success

Prime Day 2023 Inventory Management  

Effective inventory management is crucial for a successful Amazon Prime Day. Agencies and brands should plan inventory shipments ahead of time to ensure products reach Amazon fulfillment centers before Prime Day commences. It’s also a perfect time to clear out excess inventory by offering Lightning Deals or pricing products at break-even levels to attract customers.

When planning Lightning Deals, it’s important to avoid sudden price drops that could lead to rejection of deals. Instead, coordinate price drops strategically to maximize the benefits of this promotional opportunity. It’s equally important to monitor inventory levels and pricing across the marketplace, respond effectively to supply chain issues and price fluctuations, and have contingency plans for unexpected situations.   

Agencies and brands should also focus on promoting high-inventory items and avoid running promotions on low-inventory items during Prime Day week. Once you sell out, products can lose their rank quickly and may take weeks to regain their organic ranking. Running Sponsored Ads and Demand Side Platform (DSP) ads can help drive traffic to high-inventory Product Detail Pages (PDPs) and boost sales.

Post-Prime Day, it’s crucial to review inventory levels, make necessary adjustments based on sell-through rates, and leverage technology platforms like Pacvue to analyze data from Prime Day. This can help brands optimize future strategies and make data-driven decisions.

For more detailed strategies and tips on preparing for Prime Day 2023, consider exploring Pacvue’s guide on “How to Prepare for Amazon Prime Day 2023,” which provides a strategic roadmap of goals, metrics, timelines, and 14 commerce rules to help solve common Prime Day issues.  

Prime Day 2023 Content Tips  

In the competitive landscape of Prime Day 2023, optimizing content and enhancing brand visibility is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity. For brands and agencies, compelling and well-optimized content can significantly influence customer decisions, making it an indispensable element of your Prime Day strategy.  

Prime Day Keyword Research:

Conduct thorough keyword research to optimize your product listings. Utilize tools like Pacvue’s Enhanced Keyword Research Tool, integrated with Helium 10’s data insights, to identify relevant and popular search terms.  

Include these high-volume keywords strategically in your product title, bullet points, and descriptions.  

Maintain a balance between keyword targeting and creating visually appealing and informative content. Pacvue users can conduct research by searching for a keyword, ASIN, or existing Ad Group, and filter the results by impressions and word count.   

Prime Day Images:

Use multiple images judiciously to avoid redundancy. Highlight product features and combine images with text to provide comprehensive details. Always use high-definition images that meet Amazon Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) guidelines for dimension and pixel quality. Amazon’s Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) guidelines for images include:

  • All images must be at least 72 DPI in quality and under 2 MB in size.
  • The smallest image size accepted is 150 x 300 px.
  • The maximum image file size is 3 MB.
  • The maximum size for a header image is 970 x 600 pixels.
  • The maximum size for five images is 300 x 300 pixels each.
  • You can only create one EBC Page at a time.
  • You’re limited to 20 pending EBC submissions.
  • No HTML allowed.
  • You should not mention any personal contact information.
  • You should not refer to yourself as an authorized seller.
  • You should not include any trademarked content in the text copy.
  • Only small trademarks and copyright symbols are allowed if they are already part of the logo or product packaging.  

Amazon Product Comparison Charts:

If you offer multiple versions of the same product, utilize a comparison chart. This helps buyers easily understand the differences and choose the right product.   

Prime Day Design + Content Choices:

Choose the appropriate module type to highlight product features. Create an attractive design by combining different modules to effectively showcase your product.

Ensure grammatical correctness and conciseness in your content. Provide rich information rather than relying solely on text. Make your content mobile and desktop friendly. Avoid using registered trademarks, copyrights, symbols, warranty or guarantee claims, exaggerated statements, watermarks, URLs, or contact information.

Preempt Prime Day Rejection Reasons:

Understand common reasons for EBC rejection, such as non-compliance with Amazon’s A9 algorithm, non-factual claims, keyword misuse, and issues with your Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN).   

Create Effective EBC:

Make your content easy to read, engaging, and distinctive. Use visuals effectively, tell your brand’s story, and leverage competitor insights to improve your brand image. Monitor your conversion rate to evaluate content performance. Incorporate alt-text for images to aid visually impaired users and enhance search engine optimization.   

Besides attracting attention and building brand awareness, EBC contributes to increased sales and reduced bounce rates. Accurate product descriptions can minimize negative reviews and returns. Utilize Amazon’s mini-store feature to organize all your brand’s products, leading to better conversion rates. EBC also provides tools for mobile optimization, enabling effective communication with your customers.   

Remember that adhering to these policies and guidelines, despite potential time investment, can ultimately improve search result rankings, increase sales, and reduce returns.  

Prime Day 2023 Advertising Strategies  

Prime Day offers a lucrative avenue for brands to use tailored advertising methods to boost sales and derive valuable insights. Designing advertising campaigns to suit individual brands and product categories helps maximize returns. Here are some strategic insights for Prime Day 2023 advertising, including defensive methods, upsell techniques, and acquisition initiatives.   

Defensive Methods: High-performing brands on Amazon should strive to maintain impression share and secure the buy box during Prime Day. Resources should be strategically allocated to sustain visibility.   

Upsell Techniques: Consider product bundling or buy one, get one (BOGO) deals to entice customers to buy more, increasing average order value. Manage costs and break-even pricing to ensure profits.

Acquisition Initiatives: For competitively priced individual items, coupling a small coupon with vigorous ad bidding can attract more customers, taking advantage of the surge in Prime Day traffic.   

On Prime Day, harmonize Sponsored Products and Display Ads as one cohesive strategy. Adjust bids based on competition, set a budget factoring in increased traffic, and track outcomes. Use eye-catching Display Ads and relevant keywords for Sponsored Products.  

Success hinges on a comprehensive strategy.

Use Pacvue to Automate Prime Day Advertising  

Luckily, Pacvue offers a Commerce Acceleration Platform that makes it easier for brands to drive success during peak shopping periods such as Prime Day, with key features like:

  • Algorithmic bidding: Rules-based automations aimed at desired KPIs based on incoming data and demand fluctuations during Prime Day.
  • Dayparting: Customized based on historical product performance strategies based on historical performance on different channels.
  • Smart Pausing: Efficiently manage your inventory and ads during Prime Day, with feature controls to pause ads for products with low inventory, out of stock, or those that have lost the buy box, thus ensuring optimal ad spend and preventing unnecessary customer disappointment.  

Leveraging the power of Pacvue significantly enhances efficiency and campaign performance, especially during tentpole events like Prime Day. Here’s our detailed guide on exactly how Pacvue powers Prime Day success.

Amazon (Then and Now): Insights from Melissa Burdick

In the constantly changing landscape of eCommerce, Amazon’s journey from small online bookstore to global giant stands as an inspiring tale.

And few know it better than Melissa Burdick, an Amazon veteran and co-founder & President of Pacvue. In a recent interview, she shared her unique insights and experiences on the platform’s evolution, speaking with Joie Roberts on Fearless Sellers: The Women of Amazon.

Watch the entire interview here:

Brands Navigating the Amazon Revolution

In 2005, Melissa joined Amazon, a period when it was a relatively minor player in eCommerce. Recalling this time, she discusses the challenges of cultivating brand relationships and leveraging the still nascent drop shipping and marketplace model, likening it to the “Wild Wild West” of eCommerce.

Amazon’s expansion beyond books brought a wave of strategic changes. Melissa shares stories of brands learning to adapt to the online shopping paradigm. The era was marked by innovation and experimentation, testing tactics for profitability, and packaging for safe delivery.

Agile Sellers Thriving on Amazon

Amazon’s early years were fertile ground for nimble sellers who could quickly adjust to the platform’s requirements. Small sellers developed products specifically for online sales, leveraging customer reviews for continuous improvement. Melissa underscores the enduring value of customer service and product innovation, even as the landscape has shifted to support small, medium, and enterprise brands simultaneously.

Harnessing the Power of Amazon’s API and API-Driven Tools

The introduction of the Amazon API revolutionized the seller landscape. It enabled the creation of a myriad of tools, from those assisting small sellers to those aiding large enterprises in managing their businesses, like Pacvue.

Melissa’s journey with Pacvue started here, leveraging the Amazon API to simplify seller operations and empower sellers with streamlined data analysis to guide informed decisions.

Melissa highlights the reliability and consistency of data provided by API-powered tools. Companies like Pacvue use API integrations to offer real-time insights, enabling sellers to make better decisions. The result is a fair and competitive marketplace of tools, with the most responsive and innovative providers emerging as leaders.

Winning on Amazon: Melissa’s Perspective

Melissa defines winning on Amazon as delivering value to brands and customers, leveraging expertise, and seizing opportunities. The key to her success includes strong client relationships, quick problem-solving, and adapting to market changes. The essence of thriving on Amazon lies in innovation, customer service, and utilizing resources and tools.

Keep Up with Melissa on LinkedIn

Melissa Burdick’s journey, from navigating the early days of Amazon to co-founding Pacvue, is a testament to resilience and adaptability. Want to continue to leverage Melissa’s expertise? Follow her on LinkedIn for more strategies and guidances for aspiring entrepreneurs, brands, and sellers.‍

Create, Don’t Wait for Industry Standard KPIs in Retail Media and eCommerce

Let’s face it, it’s still early innings for the Retail Media and eCommerce space. 

Retailers and brands alike have been so focused on adapting their own offering to meet an ever-evolving industry and customer, that the notion of taking time to ideate and create industry standards has fallen by the wayside.

This lack of consistency makes it increasingly difficult for brands to aggregate datasets,  compare retailer and channel performance and ultimately, make ROI-driven decisions.

In this blog, we look at the key external factors hindering standardisation, how brands are restructuring to foster cohesion and the role retailers and data providers will play in driving governance and standardisation. 

1. Immature, Explosive Market

Retail Media has exploded since 2020. Leading platforms like Walmart, Instacart, and CitrusAds are all big profit drivers, but are completely siloed. 

Currently, there is no incentive for retailers to create a universal set of KPIs and candidly, they can move a lot faster without collaboration. Unlike content and imagery standards (GS1*), Retail Media has no governing body driving universal standards – it is often easier for a third party to drive these initiatives.

The variance in KPIs/metrics across retailers is huge. One striking anomaly is Instacart – unlike any other retailer, Instacart defines ROAS as simply adding product to basket. It’s variances like this that make comparing performance/ROI so challenging across platforms.

But there is hope. Walmart acknowledges the need to introduce standardisation as their customers are increasingly asking for this. Tech partners, like us, are helping drive this motion and brands, particularly challengers, know they need standardisation in order to win – so the movement is gaining momentum.

2. Recession Propels Retail Media 

Macroeconomic headwinds are actually driving Retail Media. As it’s lower funnel and directly tied to purchase, investment is increasingly being moved here.

Both DTV and Retail Media have been the two headline winners during the recession due to their ability to create such refined targeting and focus on highest margin/profit products.

Particularly highlighted in today’s economy and through the wide adoption of pricing algorithms, price has become commoditised. So the big focus is now on understanding shifting behaviours and how people buy and where they buy. Retail Media is increasingly focused on discoverability – capturing your audience and precisely targeting with the right product and right price. Furthermore, generative AI is helping create even more targeted ads, and this optimisation will only drive more investment into Retail Media.

3. Mastering full-funnel tracking is key

Despite all of the growth, full-funnel measurement remains the biggest challenge. This is why AMC is so attractive to brands, particularly with the death of cookies, as these walled gardens are even harder to track.

How people discover products is also fundamentally challenging. TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Influencers are increasingly driving product discovery, and we predict this trend will continue to accelerate rapidly and drive brands to place the focus on the audience rather than the channel.

“What brands are asking for is omnichannel, but what they really want is audience” – Melissa Burdick, Co-Founder and President, Pacvue

We believe that this massive transition to more social/influencer-driven sales will drive big brands to focus more on M&A, as they simply cannot be agile enough to stay on the pulse with rapid market and consumer shifts. 

This evolution of customer buying journeys is giving advertisers more choice than ever before on which channel and ad type to use to influence a buying decision. It is therefore key for brands to [master full-funnel tracking] to ensure customers see a consistent brand story/image across the buying journey and they understand the true path to purchase.

4. How brands are adapting

We work with some of the biggest brands globally, and are seeing a common transition happening. One of the biggest problems leading to data silos and a lack of standardisation, stems from internal structures. Traditionally, most brands have had dedicated Advertising and Sales teams, but we are now seeing brands creating dedicated Customer teams.

This new team structure provides a much more streamlined view of all customer data, removes silos between internal teams and drives standardisation of metrics and reporting.

5. The role of retailers and data partners

This current state of standardisation is not a surprise or an unknown to retailers. The problem with silos and standardisation is, by their very nature, they do not have a single owner or source of accountability and thus lay dormant. However, retailers are now starting to respond to the growing pressure from brands and see the value in driving common standards that provide greater visibility and integration across the market.

To solve this, retailers are increasingly turning to data partners, like Pacvue, to provide market-wide, agnostic guidance and insight. Pacvue Co-Founder and President, Melissa Burdick, sits as an advisor to Instacart, helping keep them on the pulse of customer trends, market shifts and customer buying habits. This symbiotic relationship between data partners and retailers is key to ideating around what a gold-standard, universal reporting structure would look like.

6. Identify and resolve your data silos

Data silos are predicated on teams controlling and isolating data. The first step in solving data silos is identifying them (Deloitte, 2022). Be the data hero with our customised report – helping you to understand and resolve where data breaks exist, where teams and platforms are not syncing and where there are clear opportunities to unify data sets and drive standardisation.

Speak with one of our experts to receive a customised Data Silos report with actionable insights and recommendations.

1GS1 Standards: https://www.gs1uk.org/standards-services/standards

Amazon DSP vs. Sponsored Display in 2023

With the rise of innovative ad types like Amazon’s Demand-Side Platform (DSP) and Sponsored Display ads, advertising on Amazon has become an exciting experience for marketers. Navigating these options can be both thrilling and overwhelming.  

The purpose of this blog post is to give enterprise brands and agencies a strategic compass to guide them in making informed decisions on ad types that align with their profitability, market share, and incrementality goals.

What Amazon DSP and Sponsored Display Offer in 2023

Amazon DSP and Sponsored Display provide distinct advantages.  

DSP, an impression-based platform, lets advertisers buy varied ad types and reach a broad audience both on and off Amazon, with customization for impact.

On the other hand, Sponsored Display, available to direct Amazon sellers, displays ads within Amazon’s marketplace. Even if these ads appear offsite, they lead users back to your listings.

Choosing One vs. The Other – or Choosing Both

Full-Funnel Activation

When considering the marketing funnel, DSP shines for upper funnel activation due to its off-site capabilities. DSP can introduce your brand to consumers who have never interacted with it before on Amazon, driving impressions wherever they are online. This results in truly incremental sales.  

Sponsored Display tactics, however, are limited to on-site interactions, typically engaging shoppers who are already mid or lower funnel. KPIs for upper and lower funnel activations are different, and for a full funnel strategy, DSP is the key.

Performance Comparison: Sponsored Display and Amazon DSP

Key performance metrics depend on your brand’s specific goals. Typical metrics include Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA). Sponsored Display ads, with their pay-per-click cost structure, may provide a lower entry point and an effective way to boost brand visibility and drive conversions on Amazon. On the other hand, DSP, with its cost per mille structure, offers a broader reach and is especially effective for brands aiming to drive awareness and capture new customers.

Integrating Cutting-Edge Tools for Maximum Impact

Using advanced advertising tools —like Pacvue’s commerce acceleration platform — can unlock key optimizations for your campaigns on Amazon DSP or Sponsored Display.

Let’s delve deeper into Pacvue and its application to a specific use case: an organic grocery brand selling on Amazon.

Rule-Based Automations: By utilizing Pacvue, you gain the ability to create customized rules for your campaign, automating numerous actions. For example, our organic grocery brand can establish rules that automatically adjust bids for high-performing keywords such as “organic cereals” or “natural granola bars.” This ensures that our ads remain competitive during periods of increased demand. As a result, e can drive more efficient CPMs and, ultimately, enhance our return on ad spend (ROAS).  

Subscribe & Save: Pacvue’s analysis of Subscribe & Save data can reveal valuable insights to increase long-term customer loyalty. For example, this grocery brand may discover that their organic cereal line is often subscribed to by customers for regular delivery. Leveraging this data, the brand can optimize their advertising campaigns to encourage more customers to subscribe and save, thus ensuring a steady recurring revenue stream.

Budget management: Pacvue’s budget management tool allows you to allocate your budget efficiently across different line items. If this grocery brand finds that their Amazon DSP campaign targeting potential new customers performs better than a Sponsored Display campaign, they can effortlessly shift more budget towards the higher-performing campaign. This enables the brand to maximize their ad spend and ROI.

Moreover, by integrating Pacvue’s AI-driven campaign management and machine learning capabilities into their advertising strategy, the organic grocery brand can further enhance their retail media optimization. For instance, it might reveal that campaigns for organic cereal perform better on Amazon than on other retailers, prompting the brand to focus more resources on Amazon.

Essentially, with the right technology, brands can significantly enhance their advertising strategy on Amazon DSP and Sponsored Display, ultimately driving more conversions and maximizing their ROAS.

Best Practices and Considerations for Enterprise Brands and Agencies

Picking the right ad campaign strategy can have a big effect on how your brand does on Amazon. Here are a few things to think about:

Choosing Your Campaign Strategy with One or Both Platforms

What your brand wants to achieve should guide your ad campaign strategy. If your brand awareness is your main goal, Amazon DSP’s large reach might be your best bet, letting you connect with potential customers both on and off Amazon. But, if your goal is to increase sales quickly, Sponsored Display’s ability to target shoppers on Amazon might give you faster results.

For a full approach, think about using both platforms. A balanced strategy might involve using DSP to raise brand awareness and draw in new customers, and then using Sponsored Display to retarget these customers and push them towards buying once they’re on Amazon.

Which Categories are Best for Sponsored Display vs. Amazon DSP?

While both platforms can help a wide range of categories, some might find one more helpful than the other based on their specific needs.

For example, niche products with a particular target audience might benefit more from Amazon DSP, which can reach potential customers off Amazon, introducing the brand to people who might not be actively looking for their products on Amazon.

On the other hand, products that are bought often, like groceries or household items, might do better with Sponsored Display. These products often have a lot of competition on Amazon, and Sponsored Display’s visibility on the site can help these brands stay in the minds of consumers.

Remember, there’s no one perfect strategy. The key is to understand what your brand wants to achieve, know who your audience is, and continually watch and adjust your strategy based on how your campaign is performing.

Pacvue Delivers the Best of DSP and Sponsored Display

Both Amazon’s DSP and Sponsored Display are vital for your advertising strategy, each offering unique strengths depending on your brand’s goals and target audience.

For an extensive approach, consider using DSP Self-Service with Pacvue. It provides advanced tools to save time and optimize your ROAS. You can view your DSP performance alongside other campaigns for a comprehensive outlook and use enhanced reporting for a detailed performance analysis. As you move forward in 2023, assess the merits of both platforms and consider the benefits of integrating Pacvue into your strategy. Don’t hesitate – your brand’s potential on Amazon’s advertising platforms awaits.

Harnessing Incrementality in Enterprise eCommerce and Retail

In the latest installment of Profitability Unleashed, Pacvue chats with Blake Kidd, Group Media Director at Rise Interactive, a leading performance marketing agency.

Blake helps brands deploy cutting edge strategies for measuring incremental sales and eCommerce advertising success.

In this conversation, Blake also details the metrics that brands should be tracking if they aren’t already. Watch the interview here:

Decoding Incrementality

Blake doesn’t hold back when discussing the importance of incrementality in retail and eCommerce.

His take: the metrics that platforms like Amazon provide just don’t cut it for a deep understanding of incrementality.

As Blake puts it, “Businesses have to innovate when it comes to measuring what’s truly valuable about incrementality.” He underscores the critical balance between paid and organic efforts, stressing the need to track not only sales from paid campaigns but also the ripple effect on organic sales.

“At Rise, our approach to incrementality always considers the interaction between paid and organic efforts. We acknowledge that these two are intertwined more closely than they would be in platforms like Google Search or Meta,” says Blake. “Our preferred method of calculating incrementality for bottom-funnel actions involves not just considering the ROAS, which pertains to the ad sales generated, but also how it correlates with your TACOS, which takes into account the organic aspect. One of the significant advantages we find with Pacvue is its ability to incorporate both these metrics into a unified space for further analysis and optimization.”

Zooming in on Metrics

Blake unpacks the crucial metrics for brand success, including ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) and TACOS (Total Advertising Cost of Sales), offering his perspective on what these numbers really mean.

“We’re looking for opportunities with a good above-average paid ROAS and high TACOS. This combo indicates a good investment on the paid side and a need for more help on the organic side.”

Tackling Top-of-Funnel Campaign Challenges

Every marketer knows the struggle of measuring the impact of top-of-funnel campaigns. Or, as Blake calls it, the “eternal struggle” of digital marketing.

But Blake is bullish on Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC) as a solution. Not only can it break down how upper funnel efforts power bottom funnel results, it also lets you see log-level data and track customer experiences, which are essential analyses that Pacvue makes much simpler.

Learn more about Pacvue and Rise Interactive today. And follow Blake Kidd on LinkedIn.