How could Walmart build awareness of its “Top 20 Toys” selection among busy holiday shoppers, while still [efficiently] driving both online and in-store sales? Moreover, how could Walmart make certain that the products featured in its digital ads could keep up with fluctuating inventory availability during one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year?


The goals

  • Meet cost-per-engagement benchmarks and drive both online and in-store sales
  • Ensure products featured within the ad accurately reflect current inventory availability at a regional level
  • Be certain that ads are delivered to brand-safe, high-quality environments

The approach

  • Execute the program with both an upper-funnel (engagement-driving) and lower-funnel (activation) strategy
  • Use Smart Ads™ functionality to ensure the ads feature products that reflect current in-store and online availability
  • Use bid strategies to respond to real-time campaign KPIs including engagements and online conversions

The results

  • Exceeded industry benchmark engagement times by 18%
  • Generated a high-volume of directly attributable online sales
  • Activation ads lowered the campaign’s overall eCPA by 46%
  • Tactical fine-tuning and upper-funnel lift contributed to a 20% reduction in the activation strategy eCPA


The details

Together with its AOR, Mindshare, Walmart teamed up with MediaNet to develop an engaging in-ad browsing experience featuring the season’s “Top 20 Toys”. The custom ads displayed a browsable catalog-style layout and were powered by Smart Ad™ functionality that used a dynamic feed to automatically update featured products based on regional availability.

The goal was to promote and drive both online and in-store sales of Walmart’s “Top 20 Toys” over the holiday season among Canadians aged 25-65 across both English and French markets. The campaign was restricted to MediaNet’s certified environment to ensure compliance with Walmart brand safety standards and exposure to high-quality environments.

The program was split into two complimentary strategies (engagement, activation) that would benefit from the efficiencies of a common data pool, holistic frequency management and cross-format exposure. The objective was to use a centralized approach that would scale the efficiency of both the engagement and activation strategies beyond what could be achieved with a standalone executions.

Using in-flight generated first-party data, MediaNet developed models for each of the campaign’s audience personas [prospect, engaged, activated]. Ads were served based on real-time interaction with the campaign.

For example, users who interacted with the engagement ads were added to an “engaged” list and further exposed using the “activation” units — but at a much higher efficiency. These users were also excluded from the engagement strategy, allowing that budget to remain focused on generating interest from still unengaged audiences.

At a more granular level, both budget and bid-level adjustments were made throughout the campaign’s flight to further fine-tune delivery across both strategies according to factors including site, ad unit, day-part and frequency- level contributions to campaign KPIs.

Custom tracking was implemented to log which areas of the ads users were most engaged with and, more specifically, which products ultimately drove them to them to

The results were so strong (including an average engagement time that exceeded industry benchmarks by 18%) that Walmart earmarked the same strategy for its upcoming Spring promotion.