26 October 2022
Amazon Ads announces new tools to launch campaigns, create video
At unBoxed, Amazon debuted new ad features for commerce, video and Amazon Marketing Cloud.
At unBoxed, Amazon debuted new ad features for commerce, video and Amazon Marketing Cloud.
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:
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.
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.
Amazon's Video Builder. (Courtesy photo)
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.
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 (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.
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.
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.
Amazon cut another 18,000 jobs in late 2022.
Amazon is set to undergo a second round of layoffs in the coming weeks, bringing the total number of employees let go over the last six months to 27,000.
The latest round of cuts will reduce the number of roles at the company by 9,000.
The layoffs will zero in on several of the fast-growing, high-margin divisions that grew to become forces in their industry verticals after Amazon built them out to provide services for its ecommerce platform. Affected areas will include advertising, the cloud computing division AWS, the streaming platform Twitch and people ops division People Experience and Technology (PXT). Amazon did not break down the number of layoffs in each division.
In advertising, the cuts come in a division that has become a success story for the company. Amazon revealed a $31 billion advertising business in early 2022, meaning the division was larger than the advertising arms of media giants like YouTube on its own. In the fourth quarter of 2022, Amazon posted 19% growth in advertising as the business reached $11.6 billion in revenue.
While the ecommerce division, known internally as Stores, was not exposed in this round, it marks the second time that PXT will face cuts.
In a company memo, CEO Andy Jassy wrote that the additional layoffs follow the conclusion of Amazon’s annual planning process. The goal of this process, Jassy said, was “to be leaner while doing so in a way that enables us to still invest robustly in the key long-term customer experiences.”
“For several years leading up to this one, most of our businesses added a significant amount of headcount,” Jassy wrote. “This made sense given what was happening in our businesses and the economy as a whole. However, given the uncertain economy in which we reside, and the uncertainty that exists in the near future, we have chosen to be more streamlined in our costs and headcount.”
Jassy added that the additional round of cuts is expected to be completed by mid-to-late April. While companies often seek to avoid multiple rounds of layoffs in a short period of time, Jassy said the multipart process was a result of the planning calendar.
“Some may ask why we didn’t announce these role reductions with the ones we announced a couple months ago,” Jassy wrote. “The short answer is that not all of the teams were done with their analyses in the late fall; and rather than rush through these assessments without the appropriate diligence, we chose to share these decisions as we’ve made them so people had the information as soon as possible.”
Alongside the job cuts, Amazon has also scaled back on many expansion projects. Most recently, the company said it will close eight of its cashierless, in-person Amazon Go convenience stores.
While tech layoffs were a top story of late 2022, the cuts are continuing into 2023 as ecommerce faces continued headwinds on discretionary spending from inflation, and investors continue to turn cautious in an atmosphere of interest rate hikes and falling post-pandemic stock prices.
Among major companies in ecommerce, Facebook parent Meta said last week that it will lay off an additional 10,000 workers beyond the previously announced reduction of 11,000 workers in 2022, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg dubbed 2023 the “year of efficiency.” Meanwhile, SMS and email marketing automation platform Klaviyo laid off 140 people across all divisions last week, TechCrunch reported.
The cuts come after tech companies saw their fortunes soar during the pandemic, leading to a hiring frenzy.
Yet tech is proving to be an anomaly in the current economy. The labor market as a whole hasn’t cooled off coming out of the pandemic. U.S. companies, including retailers, continue to add jobs at a sizable clip, and unemployment remains at historic lows.