A Conversation With Walmart Connect

    Blue background with Q&A repeated. Kelly Sheehan headshot next to white text bubble with Q and NCSolutions. Kyle McWhirter headshot next to white text bubble with A and Walmart Connect logo.

    How Retail Media is Driving Accountable Brand-Building Strategies for Marketers

    By  Kelly Sheehan, VP Sales & Business Development

    As the head of brand and agency sales here at NCS, I can honestly say that one of the best parts of my job is collaborating with our clients to tackle the unique marketing challenges they face. One example of this collaboration is the work we do with Walmart Connect, Walmart's retail media arm. 

    Walmart Connect offers advertisers a comprehensive suite of closed-loop, omnichannel advertising solutions to help drive greater impact from their ad spend throughout the funnel. These include traditional bottom-of-the-funnel strategies like search (SEO) or exploring the vast potential of upper-funnel channels like connected TV (CTV).  

    In addition to helping advertisers understand the impact of their advertising campaigns within the Walmart ecosystem, they know advertisers also need to understand if their media investments generate a sales lift in the rest of the market. That’s where we come in. NCS answers the question: How much does a Walmart Connect media investment contribute to incremental sales outside of Walmart?  

    Recently, I had the pleasure of talking with Kyle McWhirter, Sr. Director of Sales from Walmart Connect on stage at the Path To Purchase Institute Retail Media Conference in Chicago. In our conversation, we delved into the world of consumer shopping behavior, the rapid growth of retail media, and the significance of retailer accountability. 

    Here is an outtake of our conversation.  

    KELLY: A lot has happened in recent years. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve noticed a change in how consumers shop. Clearly, some changes we saw right at the beginning of the pandemic have already waned, but others seem to have more sticking power. What changes has Walmart observed in consumers' shopping behavior? 

    KYLE: Although pandemic behaviors are behind us, they triggered a long-lasting shift in the ways consumers fundamentally shop. Shoppers have returned to stores. At the same time, omnishopping behaviors are here to stay with the acceleration of e-commerce and the growth of digital discovery. Customers are discovering and purchasing products in multiple digital and physical destinations across the path to purchase, and for brands, it’s a challenging time. It's all about meeting customers wherever they are in their shopping journey, from websites, apps, social media, CTV to physical stores and creating relevant connections at these touchpoints.  

    KELLY: Doesn't it seem like every month there is a new retail media network? McKinsey predicts the U.S. retail media market will grow to $100 billion by 2026. This is creating lots of opportunities for retailers, but it must also be creating some confusion for advertisers. What are you hearing from brands about why they are investing more in retail media? 

    KYLE: Retail media, at its core, can create deeper relationships between retailers, brands, sellers and their shared customers. In the challenging economic climate, marketers need to do more with less and are seeking ways to get more efficient with their media buying and more accountable with their ad spending as they work to deepen customer connections. Advertiser adoption of retail media continues to grow because it allows them to connect their investments to the point of purchase, truly understanding its value.  

    Another key driver is that brands are looking for an omni-partner that can help them navigate the collapsing funnel. With the growth of omnishopping behaviors, retail media networks are accelerating connections with customers in the retail environment across multiple touchpoints powered by first-party insights. 

    KELLY:  How is Walmart Connect helping brands connect with consumers through omnichannel touchpoints?  

    KYLE: We’re on a mission to help our advertisers connect more meaningfully with Walmart’s customers at scale throughout the funnel. First and foremost, we’ve built a suite of ad solutions that helps them reach shoppers on Walmart’s virtual and physical shelves with the most relevant products, optimizing the shopper experience for the environment they are in.  

    But we also know that customers are shopping everywhere, and we want to be where they are. Through partnerships, we are enabling advertisers to connect with customers across their shopper journey, all powered by our insights to make product and savings recommendations when they need it to bring them back to Walmart. 

    We’re able to create these connection points at scale because of our deep understanding of customer behavior. They expect relevancy and personalization in each step of the shopper's journey, from discovery to consideration to purchase. This means marketers need to understand who to reach, when to reach them and where. With our first-party customer insights, we can be much more precise and actually pinpoint your lapsed buyers, your brand switchers, your brand loyalists, and we can do it at scale, meaning these aren’t small audiences. Then, you can secure loyal customers, begin relationships with new ones, and promote new products to the right people. This attribution not only helps advertisers understand ad impact but also fuels future campaign optimization. 

    KELLY: We recently did a consumer survey of Americans, and we learned that 53% said they saw an ad for a product from one retailer but ended up buying it from a different retailer. I've been guilty of doing that, too! It's something that marketers worry about a lot - what if someone sees their ad but decides to purchase elsewhere? What is Walmart doing to account for these kinds of sales for advertisers? 

    KYLE: Our accountability extends far beyond our Walmart walls, and our scale means we can create a ripple effect and help increase a brand’s sales in the rest of the market. We partner with NCS on the rest-of-market analysis, helping suppliers understand the impact of their digital campaigns outside the Walmart ecosystem. This measures the incremental sales of products excluding Walmart by recording additional online and in-store sales driven by the campaign.  

    Thank you to Kyle for the great conversation and insights! I look forward to seeing what Walmart has next for advertisers. 

    Want to know more about how retail media networks can work with brands to drive results? Check out our blog, In the Rush to Media Networks, Here’s How Retailers Can Help Brands Win.


    Subscribe for Updates


    Check out these CPG success stories

    SNAG YOUR COPY OF THE E-BOOK TODAY Download the Outcome Matter E-Book


    Find out with the Five Keys to Ad Effectiveness

    ACCESS THE REPORT TODAY Five Keys to Advertising Effectiveness


    We have new insights that will help

    DOWNLOAD THE E-BOOK Gen Z Brand Loyalty