Amazon Assembles Creative Training Program for Ad Agencies

Leo Burnett's Arc, Rockfish, TeaLab Among Six Participating Shops

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As transactional as Amazon's main business is, the e-commerce giant wants to get a little more creative with its advertising business.

In hopes of attracting better looking campaigns to its properties and making it easier for marketers to run those ads, Amazon has developed a training program for agencies to become better acquainted with the company's ads. Amazon has invited six agencies to the invite-only Trusted Creative Partner program, including Leo Burnett's Arc Worldwide, DDB California, Epsilon-Ryan, Possible, Rockfish and TeaLab.

The program doesn't have a set curriculum, and its work with agencies can vary from shop to shop. But the main idea is to ensure that the agencies are familiar with Amazon's ad formats and aware of what can be done with them, to the point that it doesn't take so long for an agency to create an ad and get it running on Amazon's sites. By establishing more familiarity and reducing friction, the hope for Amazon is that it will pop up quicker in agencies' and their clients' minds when planning campaigns.

The program doesn't cover all of Amazon's ad products, but instead focuses on its suite of eCommerce Ads and ads customized for its Fire tablets -- and educates agencies on when to use which of the ads to meet an advertiser's goal for its campaign.

"The selection of an image or the idea about deciding to promote price or use a coupon or drive to a wishlist as opposed to adding directly to cart -- those are the types of strategies that a creative agency can bring to bear on the creatives that they're making for clients and educating them on how to take advantage of all the functionality that we have across those units is important," Mr. Dallaire said.

Amazon's eCommerce ads are basically a modified version of a standard banner. They feature an image or video and can include Amazon-specific add-ons like customer ratings, product reviews, a button to add products to someone's Amazon shopping cart and coupons. Meanwhile the Fire ads are full-screen images that display a photo of an advertised product on the device's lock screen with a link to check it out on Amazon's site.

"The emphasis of the program currently is on innovating around the current [ad] product types we have, and we think we have a lot of room to grow there…. Is there a longer term opportunity for us to work with agencies on new [ad] product types? Perhaps," Mr. Dallaire said.

The program's biggest benefit for agencies is speed. Typically Amazon reserves the right to review each ad before a campaign goes live, which can hinder an ad's timeliness.

"This is e-commerce, and this is marketing in a digitized world. If you can't move quickly, you can't seize all the benefits. So first and foremost this trusted status gives us a greater ability to go to market, a greater ability to move quickly," said Mark Renshaw, chief innovation officer of Leo Burnett and Arc Worldwide.

The program also tightens relations between agencies and Amazon. That allows the two sides to become more strategic, whether that means extending the work from one-off campaigns to client sit-downs for brand-building efforts or glimpsing Amazon's fresh-out-the-oven plans.

"We've been in meetings when things have only just become internally discussed within Amazon, and literally five to six hours after, it's becoming discussed in Amazon and we're aware of it and able to take those things to our clients," Mr. Renshaw said.