GUEST OPINION What’s next for brands on the Amazon adventure?
No one in 1995 would have guessed that what began as an online bookseller would ultimately become one of the world’s most powerful and influential businesses. Launched as the “earth’s largest bookstore,” Amazon soon expanded across an array of products, including video, music, toys and electronics, eventually becoming a publisher (Amazon Publishing), a production company (Amazon Studios), consumer electronics manufacturer (Kindle, Fire TV) and a world leader in Cloud infrastructure services (AWS). Earlier in the year, the e-commerce giant briefly surpassed the $1 trillion valuation mark, the second US company to do, following in Apple’s footsteps.
Books were merely the beginning. Amazon has relentlessly conquered the sectors it has entered, and it doesn’t seem intent on resting on its laurels. Among its various undertakings currently in development, it is expected to launch its own B2B shipping service, rivalling the likes of UPS and FedEx, enter the US healthcare market, and disrupt education and banking. The company is evolving in more ways than one. With its international expansion, including India, China and Australia and its much publicised HQ2 project in check, Amazon is now seeking to challenge Google’s and Facebook’s duopoly in advertising.
The company recently restructured its advertising product ecosystem, streamlining it to create four unique offerings: Sponsored Ads, DSP, Amazon Stores and Amazon Attribution. The updated ecosystem offers sophisticated targeting at all stages of the shopper journey, from awareness through to conversation, backed by dynamic measurement. This is hardly surprising. Amazon, after all, lends itself immensely to advertising. It is built to sell products, which gives it unique insight into what, when, where and how people buy. This data is of immense importance to brand marketers and advertisers.
So, what is different for brands seeking to increase their sales margin on the platform?
Sponsored Ads– allow brands to target consumers as they search for products, making it easier for customers to discover and purchase them on Amazon.
Amazon DSP – helps brands reach their respective audience programmatically wherever they might be – on Amazon sites and apps, through Amazon’s publishing partners as well as third-parties.
Amazon Stores–offer a fully branded shopping experience, enabling the creation, design and curation of multi-page websites within Amazon, complete with their own branded URL, analytics suite that monitors consumer behaviour and media tagging that allows brands to track performance of external media driving to Amazon.
Amazon Attribution– currently in beta mode, will allow for measurement and attribution across all digital media, tracking performance across all stages of the shopper journey.
With more than two million sellers on Amazon, creating a comprehensive media and content plan to raise awareness, increase consideration and ultimately lead to conversation is the way forward to cutting through the noise and increasing revenue. A+ content lends itself perfectly to this, strengthening product detail page with images, videos (A+ Premium) and charts, in addition to copy. Not only does this enhanced A+ content boost search and discoverability, it enhances user experience, giving consumers more information to make purchasing decisions.
Amazon may currently be a third, behind Google and Facebook, when it comes to digital advertising rankings, but that is set to change and fast. Projected to reach a 49 per cent market share of online transactions by the end of the year, the Seattle-headquartered giant shows no signs of slowing down and has a number of exciting things in the pipeline expected to boost its advertising restructure even further.
It is certainly winning the voice game, with its voice-controlled device Amazon Echo powered by personal assistant Alexa fast normalising spoken commerce and personalised recommendations, a trend which is becoming rapidly more prolific.
The company’s video-on-demand service, Amazon Prime Video, has seen a meteoric rise over the last few years, cementing its position as a content provider. With Fire TV, Twitch, as well as IMDb, also forming part of the Amazon ecosystem, the company is building out its video advertising capabilities to rival that of Google.
The acquisition of Whole Foods, which brought 400 new distribution centres under the Amazon fold, was only the beginning in the giant’s clicks-to-bricks ambitions. Following its successful launch in the US, Amazon is rumoured to open an Amazon Go store in the UK as well, which will augment its services from a logistics viewpoint while consumers will benefit tremendously thanks to the frictionless purchasing available.
Amazon’s wealth of data on consumer shopping behaviour positions it ahead of the competition. Thanks to its insights, advertising through the e-commerce giant means ads are served to consumers who are more likely to be seeking the specific products advertised. The effect on actual sales therefore stands to be tremendous, especially as the company, still in its infancy as far as advertising goes, continues to finetune its offering. Building brand presence on Amazon has never been more important.