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Engaging the Walmart content engine

Walmart marketing executives shared new insights on the company’s price comparison advertising campaign and other outreach efforts this week during a presentation at the 12th annual Shopper Marketing Summit.

Clint McClain, senior director of marketing communications platforms, and Ken Mantel, senior director of marketing, shared the stage during a presentation that shed light on how to work with Walmart on select marketing initiatives in a media landscape that is being rapidly transformed by digital alternatives.

"The devices and mediums are changing rapidly and that gives us a ton more occasions," McClain said referring to the company’s ability to engage with shoppers. "Our content demands are changing dramatically, but with all the change the objective is the same – to reach customer with the right message at the right time at the right place."

To deal with the situation, Walmart several years ago began creating an infrastructure to create, curate and deploy content where it matters most at a rapid pace and a low cost. For example, the morning of McClain’s presentation he noted that Walmart had 30 shoots underway for television ads that would be on the air the following evening. The ads are part of the company’s price comparison campaign where specific local competitors are targeted to show the saving real shopper can achieve by purchasing the same items at Walmart. Plans call for the creation of 1,500 of the ads this year to air in 60 markets, a nearly threefold increase from last year. Walmart likes the spots because they are authentic and difficult for competitors to counteract.

According to McClain, oftentimes supplier companies’ brands are often the heroes in the spots as key items are singled out to highlight savings.

In addition to a ramp up in the quick turnaround television ads, the company has developed an intriguing program called Print Plus that is expected to roll out later this year and could place new expectations on suppliers to furnish content. The program is a blending of Walmart’s conventional print ads and digital device in a way that provides shoppers solutions. For example, a shopper who is viewing an ad on a mobile device might hover over spaghetti sauce and when they do so it activates additional content such as recipes with ingredients that could be easily added to a list or possibly a video showing how to prepare a meal.

"We are actively working on bringing to life liquid content off of our tab," said Mantel. "It will be in the marketplace this year and we feel really good about it."

The Print Plus concept will marry the content, essentially featured items, found in the 80 million tabs Walmart prints each year with the 23 million customers who have opted in to receive the company’s emails, the seven million people who have downloaded the Walmart app and its 26 million Facebook fans.

Those brands looking to partner with Walmart on future marketing initiatives will be expected to connect Walmart to credible content in their area of expertise, build video and checklists to support Print Plus, indentify content needs and sources in new ways and be ready with pre-established content to move at the speed of retail to capitalize on real time market opportunities.

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