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.

Amazon Gears Up for Holiday Advertising – and So Should You

Amazon Gears Up for Holiday Advertising – and So Should You

Analytics

Amazon is testing a new attribution tool as it ramps up its platform for holiday advertising. According to Digiday, Amazon has invited a select number of advertisers to test Amazon Attribution, which “lets advertisers compare whether ads on its sites are more effective than those on its rivals.” Amazon Attribution includes page views, purchase rate, and sales among the conversion metrics advertisers can select to understand the impact of their display, search, or video ads outside of Amazon.

As we have reported, Amazon’s advertising services are growing as more brands capitalize on Amazon’s popularity for search. As Marketing Dive notes, Amazon is positioning itself for an uptick in brand advertising for the 2018 holiday shopping season. Even if you are not one of the businesses using Amazon Attribution, I suggest you get a jump on the holidays by building awareness now inside and outside Amazon. You don’t need to do holiday advertising just yet – but you should prime the pump for the holidays by:

  • Building your name awareness on Amazon by using some of the advertising tools that Amazon has rolled out. Amazon has launched products such as display advertising designed to make it easier for merchants to reach its vast audience with paid media. Some of those products also help businesses advertise outside Amazon. Amazon’s advertising products were recently bundled under Amazon Advertising. For more insight, check out this Amazon page.
  • Step up digital advertising outside Amazon, too. Rolling out holiday ads in September is not the point – priming the pump by building general name awareness is.

You can measure the effectiveness of your pre-holiday campaign by expanding the conversion pixel of your display ads for a maximum of 90 days. Per Google, a conversion window is the period of time after a customer clicks your ad during which a conversion, such as a purchase, is recorded in Google Ads. The default window is 30 days.  But you can change the conversion window as often as you’d like. Doing so can makes it possible for you to track behavior all the way back to the click someone made on your display ad.

A Caveat

A caveat is in order: if you use the Google Ads conversion pixel as your primary source for tracking purchases, then it may not be the best idea to expand the pixel window to 90 days. Doing so can cause results to become inflated. If you are using another source as your true north (e.g. Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, or a third-party platform like Marin or Search Ads 360) then the inflated conversion totals aren’t as much of an issue.

How are you preparing for the holiday season? Contact True Interactive if you need help. We collaborate with brands on all aspects of digital marketing every day.

How Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Can Thrive on Amazon

How Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Can Thrive on Amazon

Marketing

Amazon wants to play nice with small and medium-sized businesses. The technology giant has launched a new section on its site, Storefronts, designed to promote small and medium-sized businesses in the United States. The Storefronts portal directs Amazon site visitors to 20,000 small and medium-sized U.S. businesses, including women-owned businesses and family-focused businesses.

About 300,000 U.S. small businesses operate on Amazon, according to TechCrunch. Storefronts should help them in a number of ways such as:

  • Providing one simple portal for shoppers who want to support smaller businesses, thus making it easier to find them.
  • Categorizing smaller businesses by different areas of interest to enrich the discovery process. In addition to family-focused and women-owned businesses, Amazon curates other categories such as Halloween and Back to School.

The move should be a win/win for Amazon and small and medium-sized businesses:

  • Amazon strengthens its position against competitors such as eBay that have attracted smaller businesses.
  • Smaller businesses enjoy more visibility and support.

Smaller businesses can win in Amazon’s world by:

  • Treating Amazon as one important element of your commerce ecosystem. Amazon should complement your presence on sites such as eBay, Etsy, and Facebook, in addition to your own website and brick-and-mortar storefront.
  • Capitalizing on Amazon’s advertising tools. As we have noted on our blog, Amazon offers tools that make it easier to rely on Amazon as an advertiser. For instance, Amazon’s Marketing Services and Advertising Platform products offer options ranging from Sponsored Products (a keyword-based campaign promoting a single product) to Amazon Managed Service (Amazon manages display ads on an advertiser’s behalf). These products make it possible to capitalize on Amazon’s increasing popularity as a search platform.

Amazon is rolling out an advertising program to support the launch of Storefronts, including a testimonial from Michigan-based Little Flower Soap Co. According to Little Flower co-founder Holly Rutt, “Since we started selling on Amazon in October 2016, our sales have nearly doubled. Due to our success, we have been able to hire new team members from our community, including full and part time jobs.”

For more insight into how to succeed on Amazon, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.

Amazon’s Advertising Business Explodes

Amazon’s Advertising Business Explodes

Marketing

 

Is there anything Amazon cannot do?

In its second quarter earnings announcement, Amazon reported another stellar performance, with earnings that far exceeded analysts’ projections. Its growth was uniformly strong across its businesses, ranging from its cloud computing operation, Amazon Web Services, to its core retail store.

The most intriguing aspect of Amazon’s growth is the way its advertising arm is faring.  As Reuters reported, “Highly profitable ad sales were a bright spot last quarter. The company said revenue from the category and some other items grew 132 percent to $2.2 billion. Analysts were expecting $2.1 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.”

The company has now been profitable for three straight years. And although online advertising is not the biggest reason for that profitability, it’s becoming crucial to the company’s future, as Amazon continues to look for ways to counterbalance eroding margins from retail. What’s more, advertising growth means Amazon threatens Google and Facebook, with Facebook’s stock being battered in recent days as its advertising business faces a downturn. The Wall Street Journal sums up Amazon’s advertising growth as follows:

Amazon’s advantage is that it can tell advertisers when a consumer bought a product, showing an ad’s effectiveness. Amazon also is attracting spending that would have traditionally taken place in brick-and-mortar stores to ensure good shelf placement.

“Stepping back, it’s now a multibillion-dollar business for us,” Mr. Olsavsky said.

The hundreds of thousands of customers buying up ads include merchants and brands selling on the site, as well as authors and other advertisers who want to reach Amazon customers. The company is going to keep working on automating more of the process and inventing new products, too.

As we have noted on our blog, Amazon is growing its advertising services the way Google has always done: by offering tools that make it easier to rely on Amazon as an advertiser. For instance, Amazon’s Marketing Services and Advertising Platform products offer options ranging from Sponsored Products (a keyword-based campaign promoting a single product) to Amazon Managed Service (Amazon manages display ads on an advertiser’s behalf). These products make it possible to capitalize on Amazon’s increasing popularity as a search platform.

Amazon is building a strong advertising ecosystem that is now extending beyond its core website. As Amazon develops more advertising products, the company will continue to threaten Facebook and Google. Our advice to clients: pay attention to Amazon’s growth and begin to experiment with Amazon advertising if you have not done so already. Get smart on the platform. For more insight, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.

Understanding the Amazon Advertising Powerhouse

Understanding the Amazon Advertising Powerhouse

Marketing

Amazon is moving into advertising with breathtaking speed. In doing so, the company is solidifying its position as Google’s biggest advertising and search rival. In May of this year, Amazon stopped advertising on Google with the Product Listing Ads (PLAs). Shortly after that, Amazon announced it would begin testing a display ad format with select merchants that follows shoppers around the internet. And Amazon is reaping the benefits of its current advertising offerings, reporting more than $2 billion in advertising sales in Q1 2018.

As an advertising platform, Amazon will continue to grow. Now more than ever, it’s important for businesses to consider incorporating advertising on Amazon into your digital marketing game plan even if you don’t have products for sale on Amazon for the simple reason that Amazon has become such a popular platform for people to search for things to buy. But it’s not always easy to understand where to start. Here’s a quick overview of tools available to you to gain more visibility on Amazon:

Untangling Amazon Advertising Solutions

Amazon has collected its advertising services under Amazon Media Group (AMG), a premium solution for venders to create campaigns and run advertisements on Amazon. Underneath the AMG umbrella are Amazon Marketing Service (AMS) and Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP).

Amazon Marketing Services

AMS ad formats are based on a pay-per-click model. AMS consists of three main ad types:

  • Product Display: uses a display ad to promote a product, based on product or interest based-targeting.
  • Sponsored Products: keyword-based campaign promoting a single product.
  • Headline Search: promotes three or more products using a keyword campaign structure.

These ad formats are eligible to show on Amazon, either above, below, or alongside search results; in the product detail pages; reviews and other offer listing pages; and in Amazon-generated marketing emails. To see a more thorough breakdown of these PPC formats and placements, read True Interactive’s Tips on Incorporating Amazon into Your E-Commerce Strategy post.

            Amazon Advertising Platform

APP charges using a cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) model. For AAP, there are two options for advertisers:

  • Amazon Managed Service: Amazon manages display ads on an advertiser’s behalf.
  • ESS (Enterprise Self Service): A self-service portal allowing agencies to access Amazon’s Display and Remarketing features on the behalf of brands.

AAP uses the following ad types: desktop display, mobile banner, mobile interstitial, image and text, and in-stream videos. Advertisers can also include targeting layers such contextual, demographics, geographic, time of day and device.

Digging Deeper into Amazon Marketing Services and Amazon Advertising Platform

Amazon also has the ability to retarget based on either a pixel placed on the brand site, or purchase and browsing behavior based on product, brand, and similar product lists. The ads will show within Amazon; on Amazon-owned sites (IMDB and audible, websites that are part of the AMG ad network); and on the home or lock screens of the Kindle, Fire Table and Fire TV.

For people familiar with Google advertising solutions, think of AMS as search ads and AAP as ads typically run on the GDN or programmatic ad networks. This distinction is very important when it comes to forming an Amazon advertising strategy. Your approach depends on what goal you are trying to achieve and where in the search funnel you would like to hit consumers:

  • For brand awareness, using the advertising network and placements available in AAP would be a good way to reach new customers.
  • If an advertiser that wants to capture people’s interest in the consideration, purchase intent, and purchase experience phases, a combination of AAP and AMS ad formats could be deployed, bringing potential new customers to a purchase decision.
  • And in that final stage, the actual purchase and product display ads through AMS are a good way to bring people back to the products they’ve show interest in before to make that final purchase.

If you’re interested in advertising on Amazon, but need help deciding where or how to begin, contact us at True Interactive, where we can guide you through the entire process.

The Importance of Typography in Marketing

The Importance of Typography in Marketing

Marketing

Since 2010, the number of websites in existence has increased from 200 million to nearly 1.8 billion, according to Internet Live Stats. How is a brand supposed to stand out? We’ve often discussed on our blog the importance of using strong visuals. In addition, brands need to take a careful look at the typography on their site. Typography is an analog-era term referring to the style, arrangement, or appearance of typeset matter. But typography also applies to digital content in a very important way.

When you look at content on a webpage, your eyes tend to jump around from object to object. Our job as marketers and designers is to make sure each webpage is well balanced in order to increase maximum viewability. In return, a visually appealing webpage creates more engagement with users and increases the amount of views, clicks, and conversions. Users are also more likely to remember content, images, or the brand name when the webpage is more visually appealing — thus, creating more brand engagement. Here is where typography comes into play.

What Is Typography in the Digital Age?

Typography consists of all the written elements on a page that make up its style. These can include specific colors, typefaces, the space between characters and paragraphs, the font style, size, and weight, and other embellishments.

In a sense, typography is a balancing act. The content and images on a page need to be perfectly balanced in order for the content to maximize the space on the page and to appear visually attractive to the consumer. Each element needs to be executed to perfection in order to create this essence of balance.

Typography and Brands

Typography is especially important for brands to engage a user. The typography a brand selects says a lot about the brand itself: its name, values, style, etc. A livelier typeface, such as Disclaimer or Gatsby, suggests that the brand contains an element of fun and flair. A more elegant serif or cursive font, such as Adelaide or Hamilton Grand, suggests a more sophisticated style from the company. The same goes for serif and non-serif fonts. The fonts can give off a more serious versus youthful vibe.

Brands need to be consistent with typography, including considerations such as the color, word choice, typeface, size, and spacing. Without these there would be no clear focus, and the webpage content would appear cluttered. Here are a few examples of considerations brands need to keep in mind when choosing typography:

  • Readability. Tracking, kerning, and leading are equally if not more important than selecting the most suitable typeface for the brand’s style. These three elements of typography help with the readability and legibility of the content. They maximize the spacing of the letters, words, and paragraphs so that the reader is able to read with ease. Additionally, a piece of content that is easier to read will draw in more readers.
  • Hierarchy. With typography, it is important to maintain a balanced type hierarchy. The goal is to direct the user to the most important points on the page. The most important element on the page should be the most dominant item on the page, or the easiest for the eyes to locate. Following a hierarchy allows for the readers to read with ease and locate the most important elements on the page first, with all other elements following depending on level of importance. If the title or main headline is the most important message, then it should be the easiest for the eyes to locate on the page, with sub-headlines, descriptive text, images, captions, etc., following. The hierarchy does not need to follow this order specifically. It can vary depending on the level of importance to each business.

Other factors that influence typography include the use of responsive design. A site that uses responsive design adapts to the size of the screen regardless of the device a person uses to view a site. A webpage that uses responsive design also demonstrates good hierarchy and maintains a sense of flow and balance, drawing the reader’s eyes to the most important aspects of the page first. Some of my favorite examples include the Milwaukee Ballet, Food Sense, and Forefathers Group.

The Importance of Consistency

Although this post has focused on the use of typography on websites, businesses should choose typography that creates brand consistency everywhere people encounter the brand, such as webpage, business cards, flyers, posters, etc. Everything should create a sense of overall flow and should be recognizable to the brand itself. In order to maintain this “flow,” marketers should familiarize themselves with the brand’s standards guide, and if the brand does not currently use a guide, the company should create one.

A brand standards guide contains all of the typography elements that pertain to a brand: size, color, tracking, kerning and leading, typeface or a specific font style, as well as guidelines around the company logo such as where to use a logo. By being familiar with the guide, marketers can create consistency. If a company is looking to rebrand, it is also important for marketers to consult the branding guide in order to revamp the new brand but keep intact the integrity of the old brand. Doing so ensures that the new brand does not stray too far from the current view and perception of the company and maintains brand permanence.

Company Examples

Amazon

Amazon is an example of a company that uses elements of its logo across multiple media. For example, the packaging calls out Amazon as well as directs the user to the Amazon website. The packaging also uses the same arrow on the box that it does within the brand logo, going one step further to create a more memorable brand experience and demonstrating consistency across all markets.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has always used typography and color to distinguish between various products. The original Coca-Cola logo uses a lively script font unique to the Coca-Cola brand. Diet Coke uses a similar script to distinguish the “diet” aspect of the product and then uses a modernized serif font that intertwines creating that same script feel. The colors used in the cans are unique to the flavor of the drink. The website also uses these colors to tie the brand together. On the homepage, silver is used as the main background color, with black as a secondary color for type and other graphic elements, and red being used to indicate the most important features on the page. Each product’s subpage is unique to the specific product itself and is similar to the can in which each drink is sold. Coca-Cola uses different dominant colors for each: Coca-Cola red, Diet Coke silver, and Coke Zero black. This application demonstrates good brand consistency since consumers are familiar to the style of each can.

True Interactive

We recently rebranded from KeywordFirst to True Interactive. While rebranding the company, we maintained the integrity of the old brand by continuing certain aspects into the new brand. Our colors remained the same—orange and grey—as did the placement of the type. The main difference is that the style of the type was revamped.

Across all our social media we use similar profile pictures of our logo that contain the full logo or portions of it. Our cover photos are also consistent across all media using either a photo that depicts our brand in a clear and concise manner, or colors that are consistent with our company vibe. Our website uses the same orange and grey colors, as well as the same font style, to create a sense of unity across all of our pages. 

How well does your choice of typography reflect your brand?  The answer may not be obvious especially if you are undergoing a major corporate change such as a rebranding or a merger. If you’re not sure about the answer, it might be time to take a closer look at what your brand stands for and how well your style reflects your brand values.

Mobile, Voice, Amazon, and Personalization: Four Big Themes from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report

Mobile, Voice, Amazon, and Personalization: Four Big Themes from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report

Marketing

The Internet Trends 2018 report from Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins is a must read for any advertiser. This sprawling report – a presentation, really – provides pithy insights into the state of digital and offers clues for how advertisers should invest their time and money. Mary Meeker released the report on May 30 and delivered its findings at the annual Code Conference. We reviewed all 300 pages and came up with the following key observations from just some of the content:

  • We’re increasingly online and mobile. U.S. adults are online 5.9 hours per day, and 3.3 of those hours – or more than half of our time — were spent on mobile. Both these numbers represent steady increases year over year. In 2010, adults were online a total of 3.2 hours per day, which doesn’t even match how many hours we’re on our mobile devices today. With more of consumers’ time going online, it follows that more brands need to be, as well.

  • Voice has reached a tipping point. The Amazon Echo now has more than 30 million users, which is astonishing for a product that launched only a few years ago. In addition, thanks to artificial intelligence, voice assistants are accurate enough to achieve widespread adoption. Businesses need to be thinking of how they express their brands through voice. And with the advent of tools such as Alexa Blueprints that make creating voice-based experiences easier, businesses need to start understanding how voice-first interfaces change the way their customers interact with them in industries such as retail.

  • Large technology companies are converging around advertising and commerce. Amazon, traditionally a commerce platform, is expanding its advertising services as more and more people rely on Amazon as their primary search engine. Meanwhile, Google, which built a robust online advertising business, is expanding into commerce with services such as Google Home Ordering, which makes Google Home a vessel for doing business with Walmart. Amazon is an advertising destination even for businesses that don’t have any products on Amazon. Just capturing a share of eyeballs on Amazon is motivation enough to advertise on Amazon.

  • Despite concerns about user privacy, people are willing to give up personal data if they can get a personal experience. As Meeker pointed out at the Recode conference where she delivered the report, “With personalization, data improves engagement in experiences and drives growth and scrutiny. Personal collective data provides better experiences for consumers. They’re 2.2 billion Facebooks, 200 million Pinterests, 170 million Spotifies and 125 million Netflixes . . . People putting their data into these products to make their experiences better and then there’s the collective data of many other users that effect a lot of real time products, whether it’s Waze or SnapMap or NextDoor, or Uber Pool.” What this finding tells us is that despite all the bad press that Facebook has received for the way it manages our personal data, everyday consumers are going to remain receptive to businesses asking them to share personal data because the overall value delivered exceeds the occasional negative headline.

We believe that advertising will continue to become more mobile – and, as artificial intelligence adoption ramps up, even more personal. Meanwhile, Mary Meeker’s report offers a useful snapshot for what the near-term future holds. Contact us for more insight into how to grow your brand in the digital world.