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Amazon is building an ads business within Treasure Truck

Treasure Truck is growing.

The fleet of trucks the retail behemoth runs across cities offering a suite of daily deals is now looking for product leads to scale the company. In a job posting, Amazon describes it as a “new business” and an “innovative new retail experience.” The idea is to grow awareness and new daily habits, plus promote brand loyalty and encourage “cross-shopping” between physical and online.

Perhaps most interestingly, the job posting indicates that the Treasure Truck is more than just product offers, but is building what it calls a “meaningful Ads business.”

“Our ad products pair immersive, interactive physical experiences with digital shopping, helping customers discover brands and products. If you are passionate about brands, customers and building this is the role for you.”

The job will involve building and scaling the ad program within Treasure Truck.

It’s unclear how ads figure into Treasure Truck. Brands offering deals on the platform include large companies like Garmin, Amazon’s own products like the Echo Dot and smaller offerings from florists or snack makers. They don’t pay to get on there, but when customers go to pick up their items, they have to scan the Amazon app. There could be a customer data play here, leading to more personalizing advertising.

The Treasure Truck currently visits multiple cities around the U.S. and in the U.K. Amazon customers can sign up to get a text on what the “daily deal” in their city is, then have to hoof it over to the location the truck is at to get their hands on the product. At least here in New York, goodies sell out regularly: Recently there were heated blankets, Mario Badescu spritzes and even H&R Block software just in time of tax season.

The Truck fulfills a few key goals. For one, it’s one of Amazon’s only real physical offering, so acts as a nice bit of promotion for the company itself. It’s also an interesting glimpse into mobile retailing and how physical “stores” connect to Amazon’s overall offering, both as a media platform and as a retailer.

“Brands need to be considering hybrid selling relationships with Amazon much more intensely,” said Tod Harrick, vp product at Wunderman Commerce’s Marketplace Ignition. “To that end, they need to think carefully how they incorporate these pages as part of an overall traffic strategy, including other placements on Amazon, Amazon Advertising Platform, Amazon Marketing Services, external traffic drivers, and even localized events such as Amazon’s Treasure Truck and mobile-driven Prime Now events.” — Shareen Pathak

3 questions with Brooklinen co-founder Rich Vulop, 3 months into the brand’s first pop-up

Where do stores fit into Brooklinen’s long-term plan?
We have a big offline strategy. The goal is to open a permanent NYC location in the second quarter this year and do more pop-ups in markets where we don’t have much penetration, so we can see the online lift as well. The most important thing we’ve discovered [at our pop-up] is the intent. People come directly to us to make a purchase. A hunch we had that was correct was that carrying inventory was the right thing to do. It gives people the gratification to take it home. I fought that battle internally because it would have been easier to build a showroom — no inventory, smaller footprint — but I had the gut feeling. And nine out of 10 people bring it home right away. We’ve been profitable all three months we’ve been open.

So you knew inventory was the right move. What didn’t you expect?
Programming and activations are hugely important. It’s not if you build it they will come — you have to market it. So we’ve had influencer events, media events, collaborations, workshops. They were part of the plan, but I don’t think we realized how important it would be. Driving awareness through other partners is important so people find out what we’re doing here. It’s really tough to account for that programming — we’ve divided our team to figure it out, and now we’re hiring a full-time head of retail to drive that in terms of events.

When starting from scratch opening stores, how do you do things differently than a traditional retailer?
You have to be super agile. We know we need to give our customer what she wants and we have to respond to what we’re learning, literally every day. We have four people on the floor at all times, and one is from corporate, so we all answer a questionnaire to track performance and feedback and respond to that. E-commerce is very methodical. Pick this, do this, next page, click, buy. It’s structured. Here, people come in and start spinning around so we learned what we had to guide people through in order to get them to buy. There’s also power in what we know: We can tell if people have shopped with us before, in-store or online or both or neither. I think we can get even better and have more technology, but it will always have a purpose. — Hilary Milnes

By the Numbers
A new report from Kenshoo has details on e-commerce advertising in the fourth quarter. Three things you need to know.

  • E-commerce channel ads overall grew five times in the past year
  • For every dollar spent on Instagram by a new advertiser in 2018, existing advertisers increased their spending by $4
  • The majority of Instagram spending growth is coming from advertisers who have been on Instagram for at least five quarters

Sign Amazon is eating the world
It’s no secret that Amazon’s own brands are huge, threatening competition to any retailer. The company’s vast trove of data means it often knows better than anyone what’s selling on the platform. Now, the company is asking CPG companies to do the work of manufacturing the products themselves reports the WSJ. GNC and Tuft & Needle already make products for Amazon. This could be tricky waters: Making things for the company, while Amazon keeps the entire sale and customer data to itself, might not have much upside. But it also shows what a difficult place brands and retailers are when faced with the sheer scale Amazon brings to the table.

Sign of the times: Big brands can do DTC too
“Building the brand with Gap meant [Hill City] feels established. It wasn’t flopping around. It continues to win. How it affects Gap Inc. is TBD. There’s so many learnings we’re getting right now like how do we change the website, the navigation, placing different products across the site. That will be beneficial. Bigger companies are burying innovation and smaller companies. Gap saw they have leverages internally.” — Eric Toda on building Hill City within Gap Inc.

What we covered

Fyre it up: The pair of Fyre Festival documentaries from Netflix and Hulu have some marketers asking more questions about their influencer marketing investment.

Same old, same old: Advertisers aren’t thrilled about brand safety on Instagram but they’re not pulling money

Robot wars: The race is on for retailers to incorporate self-driving vehicles into their last-mile strategies, but the technology is still far from mainstream consumer adoption

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