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Soon, Amazon ads may include shopping credits that can be offered as rewards for purchases, and more digital ad space will be available in Amazon Fresh stores.
Those are a couple of the updates arriving this week at the Amazon Ads unBoxed Conference in New York.
At the event, the company is rolling out new features for advertisers across commerce, video and its clean room solution, which is called Amazon Marketing Cloud.
Many of the new tools are designed to make it easier to create ads and launch campaigns, while others provide new ways to measure and analyze the effectiveness of advertising. They arrive as Amazon has been increasingly ambitious about growing its advertising business. The company unveiled that it had a $31 billion ad business in 2021 earlier this year, and said the advertising business grew 18% in the second quarter of 2022. With this growth, Amazon has been launching new capabilities in-house. In 2021, it debuted the Amazon Marketing Cloud to offer more analytics and measurement. It is also factoring advertising into its growing media ecosystem, which includes the NFL's Thursday Night Football, IMDb and Freevee.
This comes at a time when more advertisers are showing more interest in retail media networks. Harnessing first-party data available from purchases to elevate placement of brands within marketplaces, these walled gardens haven't been as challenged by Apple's App Tracking Transparency as social media platforms, which harness third-party data for their advertising networks.
The new features Amazon "unboxed" this week suggest that the company is open to more advertising in additional areas of its business, while giving advertisers out-of-the-box tools to get up and running, as well as understand what's working. In particular, there appears to be a recent focus on on helping smaller and medium-sized brands, especially when considering the below alongside the marketing tools that were recently released through Amazon's DTC-focused Buy with Prime program.
Here's a look at the new features Amazon rolled out at unBoxed:
Rewarded Sponsored Display
With this feature, an Amazon shopping credit can be added to a display ad that appears on Amazon's marketplace. In turn, customers receive the reward by clicking and purchasing the product. According to Amazon, 92% of respondents to an in-house survey said they were more likely to take an action if offered an Amazon shopping credit. Amazon already makes this available on Twitch and Fire TV. This feature is coming soon to the US in closed beta.
Sponsored Display for brands that don't sell on Amazon
Brands that sell products or services that aren't available on Amazon will now be able to run Sponsored Display ads on the site. It's a shift from only allowing brands that sell on Amazon to advertise, and opens up advertising to businesses that don't sell goods directly, like restaurants or hotels. This feature is currently available to US advertisers in closed beta on Twitch.
Video creative tools
- Sponsored Display video creative: Amazon is making a new tool generally available that is designed to help smaller brands easily create video ads, and measure performance. Examples of video ads include tutorials, demos, unboxing and testimonials.
- Video Builder: This allows brands to create videos for Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Display campaigns. It provides access to customizable templates, as well as product and lifestyle images. Amazon said the videos can be built in 10 minutes.
- Amazon creative services: This helps advertisers discover, compare and book with service providers for the creation of Sponsored Brands, Streaming TV, and Sponsored Display videos, as well as other creative assets.
Amazon's Video Builder. (Courtesy photo)
Digital Signage Ads in Amazon DSP
A wider variety of in-store ads is coming to Amazon Fresh stores, which is the company's growing network of brick-and-mortar grocery markets. This update allows the ad space to be sold on the digital ad marketplace. Through this new tool, brands will be able to purchase ads programatically that will appear in Amazon Fresh stores. Campaigns can be scheduled based on store location, daypart or location of a sign within a store. This will be available to eligible US advertisers in November through managed service.
Sponsored Products campaigns with presets
Amazon wants to provide presets that will allow advertisers to quickly launch Sponsored Products campaigns, which are CPC ads that promote individual product listings in search results. Through this release, ready-to-launch campaigns will be available in Amazon's ads console, with daily budgets and bidding strategies already set.
This feature allows users to apply best practices for Sponsored Products campaigns that are identified by Amazon. The recommendations are designed to "work in the background," and identify areas to improve as they arise. Then, changes can be made by advertisers with a single click, Amazon said. This feature will be generally available in 10 countries in November.
Amazon is adding post-campaign reporting so advertisers will have data on the incremental audience that was reached through Amazon streaming ad campaigns, beyond their linear TV campaigns. The feature combines first-party and third-party signals, and is augmented by machine leaning-based-projections. Amazon said the reporting is "in-flight," so optimizations can be made during campaigns.
Amazon Marketing Cloud
Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC) is the company's clean room solution, which provides aggregated, anonymized data so that advertisers can perform analytics on first-party signals from Amazon Ads, as well as their own first-party data. Amazon announced the following upgrades for AMC:
Signal coverage: AMC will now include Sponsored Display and digital subscription events among the data that can be analyzed. An integration with Sizmek Ad Suite, currently in beta, allows advertisers to build queries to analyze bidding efficacy, cross-publisher attribution and total reach. Sponsored Brands signals will also be added in 2023.
Instructional Queries within Amazon's library have grown from 10 to 50 in the last year. These function as playbooks to help advertisers get started with AMC.
Insights: AMC is adding the ability to manage Amazon DSP audiences later this year. "This will enable audience creation via an SQL statement, allowing for increased customization based on campaign goals and the ease of pushing these audiences directly into Amazon DSP for campaign activation," Amazon said.
Partner programs: Amazon has rolled out partner certifications for agencies, tool providers, system integrators and software vendors. These partners are part of the Amazon Ads Partner Network, and included in a directory that is designed to make them easy to find.
Expanded targeting for Sponsored Products
This allows advertisers to automatically target products that are similar to their preferred products. Expanded products are updated dynamically. This is available through the advertising console and Amazon Ads API.
Amazon offered the following example: "If the individual product target is a coffee maker, enabling expanded targeting may include targeting of substitute products like other coffee makers, complementary products like coffee filters or coffee beans, and other items that are frequently viewed and purchased along with the coffee maker."
Shoppers often seek out these items together. Now targeting on Amazon will account for that.
Omichannel metrics for CPG and grocery
It allows advertisers to measure the "aggregated, total impact of their ad tactics on shopping activities on and off Amazon while campaigns are still mid-flight," Amazon said. It is designed to stretch across the full funnel, and has reporting that shows the relationships between ad audiences, placements and creatives on outcomes, Amazon said. These metrics can be accessed on-demand in the Amazon DSP. This feature is moving into general availability for CPG and grocery customers in the US.
Trending in Marketing
New advertising opportunities are being beta tested for in-store audio and product demos.
Retail media’s fast growth isn’t only limited to increasing spend. The advertising itself is also poised to appear in more places beyond ecommerce marketplaces, and even beyond the web.
The latest example comes from Walmart Connect, which is the retail media arm of the world’s largest retailer.
Walmart shared details on testing that it is completing for in-store retail media. To this point, Walmart Connect has been considered the advertising platform for Walmart’s ecommerce site. But these tests indicate that’s poised to expand.
Stores present a potent opportunity for Walmart. It has 4,700 big box locations around the U.S., and customers returned to them in droves last year. In 2022, 88% of the retailer’s customers visited Walmart stores.
Walmart Connect already has already dipped a toe into in-store advertising, with a TV wall, self-checkout ads and integrated marketing. The new pilots aim to take a step further.
“The next frontier of retail media is in-store experiences, and it’s one we’re excited to chart,” Whitney Cooper, head of omnichannel transformation at Walmart Connect, wrote in a blog post on the new tests. “But it’s still an emerging opportunity for us, as we continue to test what serves customers best and which solutions are scalable to Walmart’s size.”
Here’s a look at the two new offerings currently under beta test:
Walmart suppliers will be able to integrate product demos into campaigns across in-store and digital environments.
Product demos aren’t new to store floors, but Walmart Connect is seeking to give them an update that blends digital and physical experiences.
“Part of our test is how to enhance the omnichannel experience by bridging the physical back to digital: For example, by pairing a demo cart with QR codes that link back to a curated Walmart.com landing page so customers can find inspiration and shop their list all in one spot,” Cooper wrote.
Walmart is currently offering 120 demos at stores each weekend, and plans to scale to 1,000 by the end of 2023.
Walmart Connect will now offer advertising placements on Walmart’s in-store radio network. Suppliers will have the option to purchase ads by region or store, enabling targeting of key markets.
“This is the first time brands will be able to speak directly to Walmart customers through this medium,” Cooper writes. “These ads also create a new upper-funnel touchpoint for brand marketers and out-of-home (OOH) buyers to create awareness, because in-store audio is about connecting with customers wherever they are in the store — they don’t have to pass the brand in the aisle.”
With the tests, we’ll be watching for how this advertising is measured, and whether Walmart Connect is tracking impact across different types of formats, and not just a single campaign.