Marketing Briefing: How Amazon has ‘elevated their game’ with a more cohesive pitch to appeal to advertisers

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Amazon continues to make a concerted effort to “elevate” its pitch to advertisers. 

The third leg of the so-called triopoly used its upfront debut earlier this month to make a splash, adding glitz to its usual data-focused pitch to advertisers. And just last week, Amazon held its annual Amazon Publishers’ Summit where the company revealed new products and an updated cleanroom as well as its advertising ID offering, Signal IQ. The company may be competing more actively with Meta and Google with the rollout of Performance+, Amazon’s answer to Google’s Performance Max and Meta’s Advantage+.

“They [Amazon execs] have certainly elevated their pitch to agencies and it’s having a positive impact from where I sit,” said GSD&M chief media officer Dave Kersey. “We’re able to have more strategic discussions across the Amazon portfolio versus [zeroing] in on one or two ad products.” 

Kersey isn’t alone in that assessment. There’s a sense from media buyers (Digiday spoke with five buyers for this story) that Amazon has bolstered its pitch to be more holistic across its offering, giving a full scope rather than relying on individual features or improvements to appeal to advertisers. That approach is expected to help it score more brand dollars in the coming year, according to media buyers, who point to that strategy (along with the introduction of Prime ads, of course) in helping the company garner $11.82 billion in ad dollars in the first quarter of 2021, a boost of 24% year-over-year, according to the company’s Q1 earnings.

“Over the past two years, it’s clear there’s been a more concerted effort to engage agencies and clients,” said Tara Grimes, director of media planning, Media by Mother. “What makes Amazon particularly strong is its integration of knowledge across all Amazon products — from Prime to DSPs to Twitch. Vendors that silo themselves across different offerings make it increasingly difficult for agencies to build better relationships and have a more holistic view of the business.” 

The “new and improved Amazon,” as Jennifer Kohl, chief media officer at VML, put it is challenged to not only make its growing offering understandable for advertisers and media agencies but to help them connect the dots across those products. While media buyers believe that Amazon has been able to do so, it can be overwhelming to make its expanded offering easily digestible for advertisers.

Even so, buyers believe Amazon’s effort has been noticed by marketers as buyers said anecdotally that the company is scoring dollars previously earmarked for linear TV, YouTube and potentially Google Search. “Prime offers brands an opportunity to build awareness whilst also optimizing towards sales, something that was previously championed by YouTube,” said Grimes. “Google Search is also at risk for the first time in a long time. Alternative search engines like Amazon Search and TikTok now mean that Google may not always have a monopoly.”

Media buyers have had mixed reviews of the Amazon Prime’s offering, which rolled out earlier this year, as Digiday previously reported. At the time, buyers criticized a slow reaction time to their requests as well as a lack of flexibility from the platform.

With Cannes just a few weeks away, Amazon will have another opportunity to convince advertisers to move ad dollars, particularly brand ad dollars.

“[Amazon thinks] like an advertising company first, not a retailer,” said Mike Feldman, svp and global head of retail media for VaynerMedia, who said the characteristic makes Amazon stand out amid the booming retail media sector of the advertising business.

The competitive landscape, especially for retail media networks, amid squeezed ad budgets means that platforms altogether are having to make a more cohesive pitch to advertisers now. It helps that Amazon has been making improvements to its pitch over the last few years, according to buyers.

“The Amazon overhaul across the portfolio has elevated their game and earned our/agencies’ attention,” said Kersey. “There’s a greater opportunity to connect all parts of Amazon for even greater connected campaigns across screen, combining branding with conversion at scale.”

3 Questions with Leif Abraham, co-founder and co-CEO of Public, a social investing app

Has Google’s third-party cookie deprecation impacted your marketing efforts? 

Internally, we’re actually going entirely to last touch attribution. By that, you have to be a little bit more strategic [with] your channel mix and etcetera, and how you judge performance. We’re basically skating where the puck is going and we just assume that the attribution systems that have been in existence for the past couple of decades are just not going to be here anymore.

So does that make your company more reliant on your own first-party, zero-party data? 

Correct, it’s all our own system mostly now. We have a very good understanding of our customers. The biggest thing is really just about [the] clarity, if they came to any paid efforts, which exact campaigns that they come from. That is all going to be last touch now versus trying to rely too much on the type of attribution that the ad networks or some of the big attribution players would tell us in the past.

Is Public leveraging AI at all in its marketing and advertising?

Internally, on the marketing side, I would say the use is fairly minimal. You see it on the creative side a little bit in terms of some first cuts of certain videos for social, some, image generation, some brainstorming help using ChatGPT. But other than that, not too much yet. We’re going to see much more within the next year or so on the creative production side, especially on video. But right now for us, it’s pretty early days from what we see. — Kimeko McCoy

By the numbers

As the hype around generative AI continues to grow alongside the creator economy, there’s been a resurgence of marketers’ interest in virtual influencers, or digital, computer-generated characters. Perhaps the most notable virtual influencers is Miquela, who goes by @lilmiquela on Instagram with more than 2.6 million followers. According to a new survey from The Influencer Marketing Factory agency, most respondents are familiar with virtual influencers, showing the inroads these digital characters have made in influencer marketing. Find more details from the report below:

  • According to the survey, YouTube dominates, with 59% of respondents following virtual influencers on the platform.
  • 15% of responders rank their trust of products advertised by virtual influencers a 7 out of 10.
  • 49% of responders follow virtual influencers out of curiosity about the technology and creativity. — Kimeko McCoy

Quote of the week

“Eye tracking is a unique evolution that might see increasing interest and value as adoption in visual wearables, and VR/AR headsets expands. The ability for advertisers to validate or challenge the impact of the second screen and track against true interest could help advertisers establish increased confidence in their creativity.”

— Michael Kania, associate vp of marketing at performance shop Kepler Group, when asked about Purina’s effort to use eye-tracking as one solution for the demise of third-party cookies.

What we’ve covered

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