Last week we looked at how retail king Walmart has used online display advertising to drive growth in site visitors at a faster rate than its rivals. So far this year, Walmart has run several prominent display campaigns on high reach placements like the homepages of AOL and Yahoo!. Of course the marketing team at Walmart is savvy enough to test and vary the creative, messaging and the format of these expensive ad placements.
We took a look at two executions that Walmart used for two different one-day homepage takeovers on AOL. The first one pictured below is a non-interactive ad unit that ran in late May. A few months later in early August, Walmart ran an interactive ad also on the AOL homepage (pictured on the right below). We define an interactive ad as an ad that shows more information within the unit when a consumer clicks on it rather than immediately directing the consumer to a landing page or a website. Note that in the case of the Walmart interactive ad, it is essentially a mini circular within the ad unit. Shoppers can click on a section (i.e. Girls’ Apparel) which takes you to a different department and they can then scroll through the products. What better way to really engage shoppers in the shopping process as well as accommodate a broader spectrum of audience? So what were the results of these two campaigns?
Using the Compete Ad Impact product, we measured the online behavior of consumers exposed to the Walmart ads compared to 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. For site visitation, both campaigns saw a significant increase in visits to Walmart by the exposed group compared to the control group. For the non-interactive campaign, exposed consumers were 54% more likely to visit Walmart.com compared to the control. However, the interactive unit saw a larger lift of 69%. How about the quality of traffic that these campaigns drove?
We went deeper and looked at consumers who started the online checkout process on Walmart.com. Both campaigns saw double-digit lifts for this behavior as well. However, the interactive unit resulted in 3.5x greater lift for the checkout process. It drove 82% more consumers to start the checkout process than the 24% lift for the standard non-interactive ad.
So what can we learn from this? Like Walmart, advertisers can make calculated marketing investments to drive their revenue. The interactive unit which is almost comparable to an entire circular within the space of a 300×250 ad unit was probably more expensive for Walmart than the standard ad. However, we can see that it delivered better results because it also drove a significantly greater volume of quality traffic that engaged in the checkout process. Depending on how good Walmart is at negotiating with their interactive agency, perhaps they even got an attractive return on their investment.