Walmart’s ad sales division just launched an initiative to stay competitive in the retail media race

  • Walmart is rolling out new educational programs to court advertisers.
  • Rivals Amazon and Instacart already offer similar programs aimed at grabbing bigger ad budgets.
  • A big chunk of Walmart’s first courses pitch Sponsored Brands, a popular search ad format.

According to Morgan Stanley, retailers who sell advertisements will earn $104 billion by 2025.

Walmart, which earned $2.7 billion in ad revenue in 2022, is one of the major players, but it trails Amazon’s $37.7 billion — and it faces stiff competition from Instacart, which earned $740 million.

To remain competitive, Walmart Connect, the company’s advertising arm, is launching an educational program called Walmart Connect Academy Ad Certification to help advertisers fully understand how Walmart’s ad business works and what kinds of products and ad units it offers.

Both Amazon and Instacart have their own ad certification programs. Amazon’s program covers the fundamentals of its advertising platform and adtech, as well as places where advertisers can buy advertisements, such as the live-streaming platform Twitch. In April, Instacart launched Ads Academy, which provides advertisers with online courses on the best practices for creating Instacart ads.

These programs are critical for retailers looking to increase their ad budgets and expand their retail media programs.

According to Greg Wolny, chief activation officer at ad agency Code3, the trainings will be beneficial as more advertisers use Walmart’s platform. Only a few companies used Walmart’s self-serve ad platform when it first launched in 2020. However, Walmart has been steadily expanding its partnerships in recent years, which has grown its retail media business by allowing agencies and ad-buying tech platforms to buy its digital ads, according to Wolny.

WPP-owned GroupM employees participated in a beta version of Walmart’s program, and the program, which is free, is now open to advertisers of all sizes.

The new certification program for Walmart Connect also indicates which ad units are most important to Walmart. Eleven of its courses will cover the popular ad format Sponsored Brands, which can be found at the top of search results. According to Walmart, two to three courses cover video ad formats, and two courses provide an introduction to retail media. Walmart intends to launch courses for display ad formats next year.

A certification will take between 30 minutes and two hours to complete, according to Walmart. Participants who complete the courses with an 80% or higher score receive a digital certification that can be added to a LinkedIn profile, and the badges are valid for one year.

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