Braintrust Query: What’s the content opportunity for brands on Walmart.com and other store websites?

Discussion
May 19, 2009
Carol Spieckerman

By Carol Spieckerman, president, newmarketbuilders

In terms of advertising
and content opportunities for brands, Walmart.com’s brand
showcases offer “always on” presence and even allows links to corporately-branded websites.
Sherry Smith, VP and general manager at Triad Digital Media, which buys
ads for Walmart.com, said engagement is critical when Walmart has
tracked a 68 percent increase in time spent on pages when interactivity
is added.

Ms. Smith spoke last
week along with Walmart’s senior marketing director,
PK Van Deloo as part of the Bentonville Chamber’s

speaking
series for Walmart vendors
.

Ms. Smith encouraged
brands to bring their national banner ads to Walmart.com and she cited
Ziploc’s use of embedded video, Kellogg’s breakfast calculator and Zyrtec’s pollen calculator (which gives pollen counts by
zip code) as innovative engagement tools. Brands such as 3M have sponsored
entire categories (the gifts and celebrations center).

However, Ms. Smith was
quick to point out that fractional commitments are welcome as well. Sampling
campaigns have been quite successful for Walmart.com (with a five percent
click-through rate and opt-in gold to boot) and you can see sampling offers
peppered throughout the site. Current sampling opportunities on the website
include offers from Prilosec OTC heartburn medicine, Cottonelle Ultra
Toilet Paper, Hawaiian Tropic After Sun Body Butter and Sun
Crystals All-Natural Sweetener with Stevia.

Since not
every product lends itself to sampling and not every vendor is able to
provide samples, Walmart.com is encouraging brands to co-create compelling
campaigns that leverage a variety of tools and tactics, sampling being
just one.

Continuing in the hair-splitting
world of click-through rates, Ms. Smith categorized click-through success
into three imperatives:

1. Having
the right creative;

2. Using
the right process, including working within their 8-week lead times; and

3. Utilizing
the right media placements (ones that are “contextually relevant”).

If all three are mastered,
brands can enjoy a return rate that is 3-5 times the industry average,
she said.

One of the overriding
themes that stayed with me throughout the presentation is how downright
measurable all of this has become. I know that many vendors still think
of internet spends as risky, airy fairy dart throws; however, both Mr.
Van Deloo and Ms. Smith made compelling, data-filled
arguments for ROI and performance measurement. They know, for example,
that the industry average banner ad click through is 0.14 percent; for
Walmart.com, it’s 0.42 percent. Fractional stuff but do the math and Walmart.com
is tracking at three times the average.

Speaking of tracking…The
standard measurements of click through rates and time-on-page reports are
still relevant, and Walmart provides these to
brands; however, Ms. Smith pointed out that Walmart.com is happy to provide
more sophisticated and customized data to its brand sponsors. They now
can correlate and track online impressions and in-store sales lift and
integrate Retail Link data into their measurements. Bottom line: Walmart and
its participating brands can more closely track the impact that brands’
online presence is having to in-store sales.

Discussion Question:
What’s the content opportunity for brands on retail websites? What do
you think of the progress Wal-Mart is making incorporating brands online
and developing online metrics?
How should brands be
experimenting with retailers to engage consumers on retail websites?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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10 Comments on "Braintrust Query: What’s the content opportunity for brands on Walmart.com and other store websites?"


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Anne Howe
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

Three important elements for content on retailer websites: 1) Being contextually relevant is the key to successful content, so it’s really important to understand your audience; 2) Process is everything if you want it to work successfully within the systems; 3) Triad is a great company and has really developed a core competency in this space!

Ryan Mathews
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

Brands should always explore ways to extend their franchises–especially if it involves building tighter trading partner relationships. On the other hand “active branding,” i.e., something beyond just having one’s items available for sale, is an implied act of co-branding so there are scenarios where aggressive branding on a customer’s website might not be such a great idea.

Lisa Bradner
Guest
Lisa Bradner
11 years 11 months ago

Retailer/manufacturer collaboration needs to be brought online and these are great examples of how the web offers unique and measurable interactive experiences. While Walmart and other retailers have a lot of work to do to link their e-commerce and store initiatives into a truly multichannel experience, Walmart.com is intelligently not waiting to explore the potential for selling different consumer goods online. Bricks still matter–but clicks give brands a chance to surround and engage their consumer wherever he or she goes.

Ben Sprecher
Guest
Ben Sprecher
11 years 11 months ago

The comment that popped out to me was at the very end: “They now can correlate and track online impressions and in-store sales lift and integrate Retail Link data into their measurements.” This is huge.

Engagement, time spent per page, click-through rates–all of these can be critically important metrics, but they are ultimately a proxy for the one thing that matters: actual sales lift. Did spending $X on [fill in the blank] translate to a sales lift that was worth more than $X? I love that Walmart can help make that concrete for manufacturers.

Unfortunately, the final piece of the puzzle is missing. Walmart doesn’t track individual shoppers, so it can’t tie a particular user’s online activity to the contents of their shopping cart at the bricks-and-mortar store the next day. If Walmart could close that loop, then their offering would be complete.

Joan Treistman
Guest
11 years 11 months ago
The key word in this discussion is “context.” Walmart.com provides an on line context that draws and engages consumers. Manufacturers who leverage that context have an opportunity to attract consumers to their messages and promotions. I don’t believe that all retail web sites present the same potential to manufacturers. However, that is something the metrics will shed light on. Walmart is setting a standard for how to maximize a retail website for the retailer and the manufacturers. Since they get the traffic and the consumer involvement, it stands to reason that they can enhance the consumers’ experience by providing more content (the videos and product promotions) along with the samples and coupons. This is the opportunity Walmart.com provides the manufacturers as borne out by the measures they share. Other retailers should not just assume they can make the same magic. They should study what is really happening. Why do consumers come to Walmart.com in the first place? Why do they stay? Why do they come back? And why are they influenced at the website? Then… Read more »
Liz Crawford
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

Digital brand content on retailer websites may have the greatest impact on the shopper’s consideration set. Higher ticket items may require a “kick the tires” store visit, and everyday CPG items are not purchased online in many cases. However, there is a growing and notable exception: site-to-store. A brand’s digital presence is the point-of-sale for site-to-store shoppers. Site-to-store behavior is gaining ground. And both brands and retailers are becoming more sophisticated in digital POS, as shoppers re-learn retail.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

If consumers are choosing the retailer first and then looking for brands, co-branding with the retailer makes great sense. Once the consumers are looking, the manufacturer has the opportunity to make an impact with compelling promotional materials. Find your consumer touchpoints and develop material that has impact for them. Walmart will help provide the data to measure your effectiveness. Sounds like a great choice for those manufacturers whose consumers go to Walmart’s site.

Matthew Spahn
Guest
Matthew Spahn
11 years 11 months ago

Brands utilizing retailers as media is not a new phenomenon but one that is getting better understood. Everything from shelf talkers, digital in-store signage, product sampling and now retailers’ websites. There can be a significant win win as long as brands provide content that is meaningful and of interest to consumers browsing the Walmart website. This will promote stickiness for Walmart and also affords great measurement opportunities relative to products consumers are most interested in and sales performance on products more prominently featured.

Walmart has learned from their in-store digital signage network that store and retailer media must not just be a platform for random content that doesn’t enhance the shopping experience. When done right, featured brands can not only grow their own sales but enhance the browsing/shopping experience for walmart.com by using contextual and content relevance.

Kai Clarke
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

These ads remove the ability of the manufacturer to better control the purchase of their products by differentiating their audiences. Online content is blurred as consumers surf the Internet with just a click, and the ability to deliver a message through the content is diluted (at best) because of the fractional exposure given to the consumer.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
11 years 11 months ago
Online content should remain proprietary too, and owned by the retailer. They have spent millions of dollars creating the motivated and captive audience brands would like to reach. Branded content does not necessarily support retail branding, enhance retail equity, or drive sales behind the items that are of greatest value to the retailer. The greatest mistake to make is to undervalue and take for granted the confidence the consumer places in the retailer by visiting their site. While others have spoken about the intersection of brand and retailer needs, the truth is that those needs and objectives are not always in sync, nor should they be expected to be. Brand content will be designed first and foremost to support the brand. Period. Even if the content is educational or entertaining, the goal is to enhance the brand. Or why do it? Retailers have a tremendous opportunity to leverage the value of their website consumer connections….but to do it right. Simply monetizing the site is not the best way to do it, nor is making a… Read more »
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