As the cost of groceries and other goods continues to climb, shoppers are increasingly looking for reliable ways to save money. The everyday value offered by member-based warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club have made them a consistently popular choice for consumers, with today’s economic climate making them an even more important space for advertisers to improve visibility.
With today’s far-reaching inflation concerns, even high-income shoppers are increasing their warehouse club shopping trips for savings in-club, online, and in the parking lot—for example, Sam’s Club offers savings on fuel as one of its membership benefits. As seemingly everything gets more expensive, the up-front membership fee may become less of a concern for many consumers thanks to the overall savings potential. That can translate to more members’ feet on the ground in-club, more purchases on SamsClub.com and in the app, and more opportunities for your brand to be front-and-center for in-club and online shoppers.
“Wholesale clubs still account for more than 15% of US membership revenues. Costco and Sam’s Club hold a strong share after years of taking on new competition from many digitally forward retail memberships. These retailers, along with smaller players like BJ’s Wholesale Club, have proven the resiliency of the wholesale model, even in the era of subscription fatigue.”
In this article, we’ll unpack the Sam’s Club advertising opportunities available through their Member Access Platform (MAP), including key capabilities and best practices. Let this guide be your compass to successfully navigating Sam’s Club MAP and finding golden advertising treasures along the way!
What is Sam’s Club Member Access Platform?
Founded in 1983, Sam’s Club is owned and operated by Walmart, Inc. In fact, Sam’s Club is named after Walmart’s founder, Sam Walton. Sam’s Club Member Access Platform—often shortened to MAP—is the proprietary retail access and advertising platform for the now 40-year-old membership warehouse club.
MAP is designed to help advertisers, ad tech platforms, and agencies like Tinuiti effectively reach Sam’s Club’s exclusive member base with targeted, personalized ads and widely appealing in-club experiences.
With a laser focus on members, the ad options available through MAP are designed to be a true value-add for shoppers, enhancing their Sam’s Club shopping experience.
“With MAP, our journey will always start FIRST with our member. Next, we will create and give partners experiences, tools, and opportunities that help members discover new products at the time they need and want them.”
MAP helps advertisers reach Sam’s Club members in a number of ways, including through:
- In-app and on-site Search & Sponsored Products ads
- On-site display ads
- Programmatic off-site display ads
- In-club member additive experiences
Thanks to their extensive and valuable trove of real-time, first-party member insights, MAP provides advertisers an opportunity to optimize ad spend and glean learnings to improve their Sam’s Club advertising strategy.
Increasing visibility and sales of your product through advertising can also improve your organic product ratings, with increased engagement translating to stronger organic rankings.
Key Capabilities of Sam’s Club MAP
In July 2023, Sam’s Club Member Access Platform released new design, targeting, and user experience tools to help omnichannel advertisers create effective ads and memorable touchpoints. Below, we unpack some of the key features and capabilities of MAP today:
- Target audiences based on their demographics, behavior, transaction history and more, including the option to target online shoppers who will be picking up their purchase in-store. Behavioral targeting leverages real-time, first-party member insights.
- See how much revenue their Search and Sponsored Products ads bring in across both online and in-club sales, giving a more accurate read of campaign impact. “Sam’s Club is among the first and possibly the only retail media platform to connect search and sponsored product ads to offline sales.” (source) “For Sam’s Club MAP advertisers, overall ROAS has increased an average of nearly 30% since adding in-club sales to the attribution mix.” (source)
- Enable members to add products to their cart directly from an ad.
- Use Brand Amplifiers, a Sponsored Products placement, to target category or “browse” pages in addition to search/keyword targeting.
- Highlight “hero” products or new offerings in ads.
- Leverage advanced display retargeting ads—eligible to show across tens of thousands of sites—to reach members using real-time, first-party member insights, advertiser data, and Sam’s Club’s AI-based behavioral insights.
- Understand incremental return on ad spend (iROAS) at the tactic level.
How Sam’s Club Member Access Platform Works
Thanks to Sam’s Club’s incredible real-time insights into their members’ search and shopping behavior, MAP provides omnichannel reach with closed-loop attribution—no extrapolations required.
For example, you’ll never have to piece together a reporting puzzle to (try to) determine whether a member who made an in-club purchase saw an ad placement for that product when browsing SamsClub.com; with MAP, you’ll know.
Sponsored Products: Automatic and manual bidding options
MAP offers automatic and manual bidding options for sponsored products campaigns:
Automatic — Allows advertisers to place a CPC bid at a SKU or ad group level, with Sam’s Club choosing the most relevant keywords based on your SKU set and its details. These ads are eligible to show on all pages; targeting Specific Page Type or Placement type is not an option.
Manual — Allows advertisers to place individual CPC bids for each keyword related to the SKU set. These ads are eligible to show on search results pages only.
MAP Ad Placements
Available in-app and on-site MAP ad placements include: Search Grid; Category Carousels; Recommendation Carousels; Buy Box; Brand Amplifier; and additional on-site display placements.
Available for both automatic and manual campaigns, the Search Grid placement serves on the search results page in positions 1, 5, and 10, sending customers directly to your product page on the Sam’s Club app or website. These placements require that that advertised product organically ranks in the top 48 product results for the respective search.
Sponsored Products will not move item placements to a lower slot than you rank organically.
Recommendation Carousels: Homepage, Cart, and PDP ads
These ads appear in positions 1 and 4 and are targeted based on a member’s category and browsing behavior. Unlike Search Grid placements, these high-visibility homepage, Add to Cart, and product page ad placements don’t have organic ranking requirements.
These ad types are only available for automatic campaigns, not manual.
Category Carousels: Category Pages
Sam’s Club’s Category Carousels give advertisers the opportunity to entice members with a dedicated product carousel on contextually targeted category pages. Available for automatic campaigns only, a strong organic ranking is not required to purchase these high visibility ad spots.
Buy Box: Product Description Pages (PDP)
These ads enable advertisers to showcase their items to high-intent members on Product Description Pages (PDP). Members can add items to their cart directly from the ad or visit the product page to learn more.
These ad types are only available for automatic campaigns, not manual.
These ads enable advertisers to reach members at the top of search and browse pages, grow share of voice, and drive incremental sales through basket building.
Advertisers can surface their brand logo, tagline, and one to four items, and enable members to add items to their cart directly from the ad or visit product pages to learn more.
These ad types are only available through MAP’s Managed Services and select technology MAP Partners Club partners.
Additional On-site Display Placements
Advertisers can also leverage on-site display placements with Sponsored Products to reach members at every touchpoint.
These ad types are only available through MAP’s Managed Services.
In-Club MAP advertising options
There are currently ~600 Sam’s Club warehouse locations across the US and Puerto Rico for members to shop in or pick up curbside orders from, with members also having the option to shop the extensive online catalog at SamsClub.com 24/7. Sam’s Club plans to meet growing demand with 30 new US stores slated to open in suburban areas in coming years.
To reach members shopping at one of Sam’s Club’s brick and mortar stores, available options include:
- Scan & Go™ and Instant Savings offers (for app users)
- Reach members on their mobile devices as they browse within a club location
Sam’s Club is a leading membership warehouse club offering advertisers a unique and valuable audience. For the fiscal year ending January 2022, Sam’s Club generated $73.56 billion in net sales. When comparing which retail membership services US survey respondents pay for in August 2023, Sam’s Club came in second place—behind only Amazon Prime.
Sam’s Club MAP aims to improve advertiser capabilities and visibility, help boost sales, and ensure your product is being promoted at the right moment in the member’s journey. Contact us today to learn more about Sam’s Club advertising opportunities for your brand, and how our Connected Commerce team can help guide your strategy.