Customers have turned to digital retail sites during the pandemic, which has accelerated the US e-commerce penetration rate. In the last ten years, e-commerce as a share of total retail sales increased ~10 points; in the last eight weeks, it has increased 11 points.

For brands that manufacture in these surging categories, there is an opportunity in advertising on the queries seeing the increased traffic.

Additionally, for brands that manufacture in adjacent or related categories, there is an opportunity to leverage Amazon’s Demand Side Platform (DSP) to create audiences of customers who have recently purchase or viewed these categories, and help them to discover adjacent items.


Looking at Amazon Sponsored Brands, Sponsored Display, and Sponsored Products performance across the worldwide Flywheel Digital portfolio, we can see how clicks not only substantially increased as customers shifted channels, but also how efficiency has increased via lower CPC.

We know that many of these are net new customers to these brands and not just existing customers pantry loading by looking at the Amazon DSP’s New to Brand metric, where we observed a 483% increase April 1st compared to February 1st.


Beyond Amazon, Walmart’s first quarter beat expectations and delivered 74% annual growth. Customers conduct 185 searches per second on Walmart.com and one in four Walmart.com purchases starts out as a search.

Brands now have the opportunity to leverage self serve Sponsored Products advertising or to partner with one of Walmart’s Advertising Partner Programs, of which Flywheel Digital is a proud member.

Unique to Walmart Sponsored Products is the ability for brands to not only see what happened online, but the impact on in-store sales as well.

The investment case is straight forward as Walmart CPCs continue to be highly efficient and Walmart is providing brands with granular, transparent data to measure effectiveness down to the stock keeping unit (SKU).

In late April, The Information reported that Instacart “has turned profitable for the first time ever, thanks to skyrocketing sales. Instacart sold about $700m worth of groceries per week in the first two weeks of April, up 450% on sales in December”.

Besides adding hundreds of thousands of new shoppers, Instacart has continued to innovate, launching “Fast & Flexible” & “Order Ahead” services to “speed up service and unlock more delivery windows”. Instacart has been iterating quickly on their Featured Products ad product, rolling out real time bidding, a self-serve UI, and deep insights, including the basket rate for strategic partners.

Prescription drugs have long been a challenge of the digital retail ecosystem and Instacart is addressing this by offering Costco prescription delivery from more than 500 Costco stores – with nearly 100% coverage in each state.

Digital Retail is presenting brands with a unique opportunity to help channel shifting customers discover brands along the path to purchase. The retailers are continuously investing in self serve platforms that unlock incremental growth opportunities and unique data sets that savvy brands can benefit from, both today and going forward.

A sample report of WARC’s Global Ad Trends: The impact of COVID-19 on ad investment is available to download here. The full report is available to WARC Data subscribers here.