Amazon opens up more tools for UK publishers

Amazon is introducing two tools for U.K. publishers designed to help them tap into the e-commerce giant’s shopper data.

One of the tools, called Shopping Insights, lets publishers view the Amazon shopping habits of their site visitors. For instance, based on those users’ shopping behaviors on Amazon, publishers can view which proportion of their site visitors are in the market for or have bought TVs .

Publishers can then use that data to inform their editorial teams to write more around items that their site visitors are searching and buying on Amazon. Publisher sales teams can also use the shopping-habit data in their collateral when pitching to clients who want to target an audience that Amazon data shows is visiting that publisher’s site.

Shopping Insights is a product that Amazon has tested in the U.S. with partners like Bauer, but it hasn’t been fully rolled out to the U.K until very recently and is still in beta phase.

“It’s exciting in terms of e-commerce data we can get,” said an executive at a digital media publisher. “By ourselves, we don’t know what people go on to buy as agencies don’t traditionally share that data with publishers. If you look at demand-side platforms or any third-party tool like comScore, more often than not the data is inferred when overlapping my audience data.”

That means publishers don’t necessarily know for certain what items their site visitors are in the market for. “With Amazon Shopping Insight at least the publisher knows if their audience actually does buy certain product types which should help us massively to sell into relevant buyers,” added the same executive.

Publisher and agency interest is also bubbling around the second product offering, Direct Deals, which is also in beta phase in the U.K. This enables a publisher to agree to a private-marketplace deal on reserved inventory, and that is based on Amazon e-commerce data, according to publisher sources. Details on what specific data haven’t yet been fully disclosed, but one of the options will be for publishers to overlay Shopping Insights data into the PMP offering, which they can do on either a fixed-fee or floor-price model agreed on between advertiser and publisher, according to publisher sources. Naturally, publishers using Amazon publisher services such as its Transparent Ad Marketplace — the e-commerce giant’s server-side bidding platform.

Amazon confirmed the products are in beta, but declined to comment on the record for the article.

Most U.K. publishers are interested in the opportunity the Direct Deals product presents. “It’s positive Amazon is allowing this,” said an executive at a major UK publisher. “Google don’t allow the same for search data yet. But I imagine the fact Amazon is doing this will cause Google to respond. And it will only get better for publishers and advertisers if they [Google and Amazon] start to battle it out.”

Amazon already makes this [Shopping Insights] data available to buyers to use across the open exchange through its demand-side platform. That gives buyers access and control to find these audiences at scale outside of Amazon properties, according to Matt McIntyre, head of programmatic for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, for Essence. However, this is the first time Amazon has made this kind of data available via direct deals agreed between agencies and publishers.

“Shopping Insights rooted in Amazon data will undoubtedly help publishers package programmatic-direct deals which are more attractive to buyers than those using third-party data sources,” said McIntyre. Most publishers have to rely on third-party data sources to analyze or package retail audiences for deals and these are often hard to interrogate for accuracy and value, he added. “With nearly half of all product searches starting on Amazon, the veracity and trust we have in their shopper insights and audience segments is high, which makes it easier for buyers to see the value.”

Media agencies regard any data that can provide purchase-intent signals as highly compelling. “This [Amazon Shopping Insights] will go some way to utilize qualified data at scale and as a buyer, I can unearth these audiences in environments I may not have predicted the end user will be,” said Duane Thompson, head of display and programmatic at Total Media. “The granularity is useful and will go some way to aiding planning also. This will allow me to marry branding with performance and tailor the user journey.”

The move is regarded by publishers as an attempt to better rival Google’s hold on the ad market. While many welcome any new option that could help increase ad revenues, most approach any new relations with the dominant tech platforms with caution. European publishers have learned the hard way, not to become too reliant on big tech providers, namely Facebook and Google. The same goes for Amazon.

“It’s a good step for Amazon to make, but if I plan my strategy around Amazon I’m at the mercy of another company. I need to plan my strategy around news,” said another executive at a major news publisher. “It would be foolhardy not to work with Amazon, Facebook and Google, but the biggest problem is you become beholden to them,” added the same executive.

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