Advertiser Q&A: Amazon Sponsored Ads

Advertiser Q&A: Amazon Sponsored Ads

Amazon

Amazon is creeping up on Google and Facebook as an online advertising platform. According to eMarketer, Amazon will become the third largest online ad platform in the United States in 2018, generating $4.6 billion in ad revenue. Amazon’s online advertising market share is way behind Google’s and Facebook’s – but the trillion-dollar company is making strong moves to strengthen its services. In September, Amazon consolidated all its digital advertising services under one offering, Amazon Advertising, which provides the following products:

  • Sponsored ads: sponsored products and brands.
  • Display ads: reach audiences on Amazon sites, apps, devices and third-party sites.
  • Video ads: showcase brand messages on Amazon sites, devices and third-party sites.
  • Stores: create multipage brand stores within Amazon.
  • Measurement solutions: gauge advertising impact across Amazon and third-party sites
  • Amazon DSP: programmatic advertising solutions (formerly Amazon Advertising Platform).

These services have sparked a number of questions among advertisers, such as:

  • What exactly are these services?
  • How and why should an advertiser use them?
  • Do they have any limitations?
  • What’s the best way to maximize their value?

I’m going to answer those questions through a series of blog posts that focus on three products especially relevant to True Interactive’s clients: sponsored ads, display ads, and video ads. Today let’s take a closer look at sponsored ads.

1 What Exactly Are Sponsored Ads?

Sponsored ads are Amazon’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising solution. They are available to sellers, venders, book venders, and Kindle Direct Publishing. Sponsored ads take a consumer directly to a product page or brand site within Amazon.

To reach customers, sponsored ads use keywords (either your own list or a list suggested by Amazon), products, and product categories for targeting. There are three types of sponsored ads:

  • Sponsored products.
  • Sponsored brands (previously headline search ads).
  • Product display ads.

2 How and Why Would an Advertiser Use Sponsored Ads?

Sponsored ads should be used when advertisers want to drive sales and awareness while maintaining more control over budgets. Since sponsored products and brands ads only incur costs if they’re clicked on, it’s easier to see the return on investment of this ad type. Amazon recommends using sponsored ads to showcase offers, clearance items, seasonal offerings, and unique items.

            How to Use Sponsored Products

Sponsored products are used to promote a single product and take the consumer directly to the product page. Additional creative such as images and text are not needed, making sponsored products the simplest ad to set up. Use keyword targeting to match products to a consumer’s search and show ads on the search results page or product detail page. 

            How to Use Sponsored Brands

Sponsored brands allow for multiple products or titles to be promoted together using a custom headline and logo. Consumers are taken to a product page if they click on a product, or to a designated landing page if they click on the image or ad text. Sponsored brands are good for driving awareness, in addition to sales. For example, advertisers can pair new or seasonal items with a related top seller in an ad to increase visibility in other product offerings. Or if a seller has multiple versions of the same product, say different versions of the same phone, using sponsored brand ads would showcase the variety available within a single ad.

            How to Use Product Display Ads

Product display ads use relevant products, product categories, and interests to target consumers and show image ads within product detail pages, reviews, and merchandise emails. These are a great ad to showcase complementary or competing products. This ad format is also a self-service option and is specific to the individual ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) of a product. Think of product display ads as a conquesting campaign, or as a last chance way to capture interest away from another product or brand.

3 Are There Any Limitations to Sponsored Ads?

The keyword targeting can be somewhat limited for sponsored products and sponsored brands. Although Amazon uses the same match types as other PPC platforms, the keywords must be relevant to the metadata on the product page. So, for example, if you’re selling toys around the holidays and want to boost holiday sales, it’s unlikely having keywords around “Christmas Toys” will generate impressions of your ads unless the product page metadata contains those words. But if you’re selling a toy specific to the holiday, then your ad more than likely will show.

In addition, for product display ads, due to the competitive nature of the ad format, it may be harder to generate sales unless the product has a great offer or discount attached to it. Since product display ads are only visible after a consumer shows interest in a related product, the offer has to convince the consumer that the product they were originally interested in is not as good of a product as in the display ad.

4 How Can Advertisers Maximize the Value of Sponsored Ads?

To maximize the value of sponsored ads, spend time to really think through which products and offers would make the most sense on this platform. For example:

  • Putting up ads for a seller’s entire inventory all year round would probably not be a wise use of your money.
  • Pulsing the ads on and off during seasonal or clearance sales and using a promotion or discount would be a better way to generate sales and to raise awareness of your products or store.

Knowing about the competition on Amazon is another way to increase the value of sponsored ads. If you sell unique items that someone may not know how to look for, do a quick search on what related items are already for sale on Amazon. Using that information, you can target those products and categories so that your product ads show up when people search for those items.

Although you also want to give your campaigns time to collect enough data to see what works and doesn’t work, Amazon Advertising isn’t a “set it and forget it” platform. Things can change quickly, and someone else can emerge with better offers or newer products. Updating promotions and switching out products regularly gives you a better chance at figuring out what works best for your inventory.

If you’re interested in Amazon sponsored ads, but don’t know where to start or need assistance strategizing and managing them, please reach out to us at True Interactive.

Watch our blog for follow-up posts on Amazon display ads and video ads.

4 Advertising Trends from Super Bowl LII

4 Advertising Trends from Super Bowl LII

Marketing

The past 24 hours have been full of stories rating the Super Bowl ads. The fact that the ads are even rated at all is a testament to their power. We now treat them like movies, talking about them before the big reveal, watching trailers, and then experiencing the moment, after which we discuss how we feel about them (actually, the discuss occurs in real time now, followed by more detailed analysis). In addition to judging the ads, though, it’s also interesting to watch for trends in their format or differences in how they were unveiled in years past. Here are a few we noticed:

1. The Surprise Drop

Usually ads for movies promote releases that are months on the horizon. This year, Netflix dropped a surprise: a film, The Cloverfield Paradox, that premiered immediately after the Super Bowl. The surprise release followed an approach that musicians such as Beyoncé have employed with surprise album drops. In the words of reporter William Bibbian of IGN.com, “All of a sudden, a film most people hadn’t even heard of was now a very big deal.” But the buzz turned to disappointment after critics actually saw the movie and reviewed it. Perhaps that’s what Netflix had in mind all along: drop the movie during the Super Bowl Sunday and attract viewership before word-of-mouth reactions set in.

2. Fewer Stunts

In years past, brands have used the Super Bowl to unleash amusing stunts such as fake ads. This year, advertisers unleashed fewer stunts with the notable exception of Skittles. As we discussed on our blog, Skittles release an advertisement watched by just one person, employing a tongue-in-cheek tone that made us wonder if the ad and person were real. Well, they were. Skittles did what brands struggle to do amid the Super Bowl ad blizzard: capture attention and create conversation. Otherwise, brands focused on the content of the ads themselves.

3. Longer-Form Narrative

As noted in Business Insider, Super Bowl ads were lengthier, taking a storytelling approach that required viewers to follow storylines, such as Aerosmith’s Stevie Tyler reverse aging as he drove a Kia in reverse. Tide released a series of ads starring Stranger Things actor David Harbour, who appeared in ads mocking the concept of an ad. Apparently Super Bowl advertisers wanted to create more memorable moments during the game itself by telling stories, which might help explain why fewer brands released their ads before the game this year.

4. Measurable Performance

Automobile marketplace Cars.com announced that automotive ads generally drove viewers to Cars.com to check out the cars advertised during the game. According to Cars, the Kia Red Stinger ad resulted in a 4,053-percent spike in traffic to view the car on Cars.com. Cars.com research showed that Super Bowl ads (in the automotive industry, anyway) creature measurable results. Perhaps in the future, brands will dial up their ability to measure and even adjust advertising on the fly based on audience feedback in real-time. With digital, anything is possible.

Super Bowl ads, like Black Friday, adapt to changing times and endure the most withering criticism. The Super Bowl will always be an advertising bonanza. Businesses, though, will tweak their approaches year after year as they try to capture a reward so elusive in the digital age: our attention. For more insight into how to build your brand, contact True Interactive.

 

 

YouTube Fights for Credibility

YouTube Fights for Credibility

Video

For those of you who kept your New Year’s Resolutions: congratulations. Now get ready to break them on February 4, when everyone gathers in front of that big screen to stuff their faces and watch grown men run around and crash into each other during Super Bowl LII. Of course, the unofficial national holiday also includes a huge chunk of the population who could care less about the action on the field (“Who is this Tom Brady? Oh, you mean Giselle Bundchen’s husband?”) and gather in front of the TV to overindulge in wings, nachos, and sweets for the commercials.

Last year, about this time, I wrote a blog post about investing in the power of YouTube advertising, Noting that the cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad was $5 million, I asserted that YouTube could be seen as a replacement for TV advertising. One year later, Super Bowl ads are holding firm at $5 million. Meanwhile, over the last year, YouTube has gotten a lot of flak (rightfully so!) about placement of video ads and banner ads over inappropriate, un-safe, and in some cases downright disturbing content.

Clearly, YouTube has taken some hits.

On January 16, Google announced that the YouTube Partnership Program (YPP) would be updated to address its credibility problem. YPP now requires a channel to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time within the last 12 months to be eligible to show ads before or during videos. These new rules will apply to everyone, including existing channels, starting February 20, 2018.

By contrast, under the old rules, having only 10,000 views could make a channel eligible for YPP. That’s it. A total view number as the only real eligibility factor is kind of crazy considering bots could hit that number in a matter of minutes.

The new rules were inevitable after a large number of advertisers threatened to pull out, and, in some cases (I’m speaking from experience) pulled out and STAYED pulled out. Moving forward, YouTube will begin to “closely monitor signals like community strikes, spam and other abuse flags,” which will also help keep those videos/partners who show ads more “brand safe.”

At True Interactive, we are results driven and like to see hard numbers. So here is a hard number: the creators who remain part of the YPP after the new guidelines go into effect make up more than 95 percent of YouTube’s reach for advertisers.

Also note that Google Preferred, which aggregates YouTube’s top 5 percent of content into easy-to-buy packages, will now be manually vetted. In other words, there is an actual person watching these uploaded videos before an ad can be shown. In a blog post, Neal Mohan (chief product officer) and Robert Kyncl (chief business officer) wrote that “99 percent of those affected by the new guidelines were making less than $100 per year in the last year, with 90 percent earning less than $2.50 in the last month.”

Looking back over 2017, you would think that YouTube didn’t do very well. Wrong. The number of channels making over six figures in 2017 were up over 40 percent year-over-year. Even with all of the bad press and advertisers pulling out of showing YouTube video ads, the number of channels making $100K+ last year was up 40 percent! That number alone is proof that TV advertising is starting to go the way of the dodo. Consumers are cutting the cord, and it’s time to get ahead of the competition. Elon Musk said, “The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur.” We are past consumers possibly cutting the cord and are well into the probability of it happening now.