Walmart: A Growing Giant — Part 1

When it comes to brick and mortar retailers, Walmart is clearly the market leader just by its sheer size. In fact, Walmart’s dominance transfers online where it received 33M visitors in August which was 10% more than the next closest brick and mortar rival, Target. Not only does Walmart attract more consumers but it is also growing at a faster rate than Target. For the past 6 months Walmart.com has seen double digit year-over-year growth in site visitors, outpacing the growth rate for Target.com.

One might wonder how a giant like Walmart continues to maintain such strong growth. One reason is their aggressive online advertising campaigns. In the past six months, Walmart has run several prominent display ad placements on the front pages of large portals like Yahoo! and AOL.

But just how effective are these six-figure investments?

We took a look at a one-day homepage campaign that Walmart ran on the AOL homepage on August 6th. We compared consumers who were exposed to this ad against a control group of consumers who were not exposed but were otherwise similar in behavior and composition. The comparison of the exposed behavior against a control group allows us to measure the true lift of the campaign on online behavior.

Our data below show that the Walmart campaign had an immediate impact on the exposed consumers, driving an 81% greater rate of visitation to the site just within the first week after exposure. More interestingly, the impact of this campaign carried through to four weeks post exposure. With each passing week after August 6th, exposed consumers visited Walmart.com at a higher rate than the control group. By the fourth week, 27% of exposed consumers had visited Walmart.com which is 52% greater than the control group.

This was only one of multiple homepage campaigns that Walmart has run so far this year. Imagine the compound impact of all these campaigns on site visitation to Walmart.com. Clearly, powerful online advertising is one factor driving this retailer’s online growth.

In addition to running prominent online display advertising, Walmart has also been testing various ad formats, from clickable video to more involved interactive ad units. So in part 2 of this blog series, we will investigate differences in the impact on online behavior for these various ad formats. Stay tuned!