Inside Amazon’s Evolving Ecommerce Media Practice

AmazonAt Amazon Media Group (AMG), sometimes the objective isn’t to sell advertisers more ads.

AMG has a lesser-known service – ecommerce marketing – where it might evaluate a partner’s broader retail health and the roles contextual elements (e.g., Amazon product detail pages), third-party placements or product availability play in the path to conversion.

“You can’t look at media and the customer shopping experience independently, particularly in an ecommerce environment,” said Seth Dallaire, VP of global ad sales for Amazon. “They’re completely intertwined.”

Measurement and analytics around the ecommerce experience have, in turn, required Amazon’s media sales be much more prescriptive.

Dallaire told AdExchanger why.

AdExchanger: What requests has Amazon Media Group fielded from retail/agency clients?

SETH DALLAIRE: We look at the primary business goal of the media campaign, the customer purchase experience relevant to that goal and how the media campaign improves that experience and influences the customer journey. For example, how are the customer reviews and ratings for promoted products? Do we have enough inventory supply of the product to deliver against forecasted sales? Is the product’s search rank improved by the media investment? 

Are customers aware of the promoted products? Are customers looking for and/or considering the advertised products already, and did the media encourage more interest?

What metrics are native to Amazon?

Do customers intend to purchase the products? Are they adding it to their shopping cart or wish list or registry after ad exposure? Are customers purchasing the product and how did the media help? What are the earned media impacts of the advertising on Amazon? And are the customers increasing loyalty through services such as Subscribe and Save?

We share total purchases and units sold on Amazon based on ad exposure, as well as the advertiser’s return on ad spend (ROAS) – product sales per media dollar spent with us. We also look at how the products’ overall conversion rate compared to other products in that subcategory. The accuracy and scale of these insights are unique to Amazon.

What happens after these initial discoveries?

If we tell an advertiser its ROAS is $5 – is that good for that category? How good? Is it underperforming? If so, by how much relative to other products in the category? And what do we do to optimize media to improve results regardless? There’s this urgency and push for more information and more metrics, but we still have work to do to make sure clients understand how to act on those metrics when we deliver them, and the changes that will move the needle may not be on the media side.

What work do you have to do?

They might need richer detail page content, or more customer reviews, or more customer-friendly packaging, to help move customers from consideration to conversion. So we’re digging in here with clients – sharing analytics and our expertise from the retail side, and also learning together in many cases.

Can you share an example of a programmatic campaign where you could track how ad exposures off-Amazon yielded sales?

One great example is Nespresso, [which] ran an Amazon Advertising Platform [Amazon’s proprietary DSP] campaign with us. They were reaching Amazon audience segments programmatically across third-party websites, with the goal of driving coffee machine sales at Nespresso.com within a specific CPA budget. Even though the ads weren’t driving back to Amazon, we were able to look at ad-attributed sales on Nespresso products on our site, and we saw there was also significant lift – even though the placements were driving to Nespresso.com. I believe the campaign was besting their CPA goals by more than 70% for certain SKUs.

What formats did you use?

We continued testing based on this and Nespresso added Amazon placements to their campaign … using our customer ratings and reviews [ecommerce] ads and mobile placements. Ultimately the campaign drove more than [three times the volume of] machine sales on Amazon versus their projected goals. Nespresso was able to expand from running solely programmatic media via Amazon Advertising Platform and driving to Nespresso.com, to drive more sales by expanding their plan with us and leveraging our retail analytics to inform that strategy.

What’s changed the most for Amazon, datawise?

Going deeper on linking a brand’s media campaign with its retail attributes to give clients a 360 view of how their media is performing and why. For advertisers that sell on Amazon, because we own both the media and the retail channels, we can give them an end-to-end understanding of the customer journey, from ad exposure to awareness to conversion to loyalty – using actual first-party, retail metrics corresponding to each stage. And by retail metrics, I mean things like indexed search impression and detail page view rank, average customer rating and active review count, and indexed conversion rate rank.

We’ve talked before about how a standalone ad isn’t always the answer for an Amazon Media Group client. Can you elaborate?

The most beautiful, clear, actionable, well-targeted ad may not work if the customer gets to your product detail page and there aren’t any customer reviews to read, or the product isn’t available for immediate shipment or the pack size is wrong. These aren’t things that advertisers were instinctively thinking about – programmatically or otherwise – five years ago. Now these are conversations we’re having daily.

The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

 

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