Why Amazon Prime Day brands need to rethink ad targeting
Amazon Prime Day has become another routine sales event in the year for brands, but internet advertising has been anything but routine. Amid new data restrictions impacting ad targeting and a surge in social commerce thanks to the pandemic, brands need to think differently about how they prepare for this summer’s sales bonanza.
Amazon Prime Day, which will run on June 21 and June 22, will require new types of strategies by brands and agencies and is creating an opportunity for marketing technology firms to help them adjust to the new realities in online shopping.
Oracle, for example, integrated with Amazon’s demand-side platform so brands can target 4,000 types of consumers around Prime Day. This comes as brands contend with web browsers and mobile devices that make it more complicated to track consumers online.
Omnicom also is working with brands to hone their marketing plans and apply new data sets to target ads around Prime Day. Omnicom is one of the marketing technology partners that can use Amazon’s DSP and it works directly with brands to roll their first-party data on customers into groups of audiences ripe for sales messages, similar to Oracle’s new tool.
“There are increasing innovations and capabilities that are rolling out through Amazon,” says Jason Colon, managing director, integrated media planning at Omnicom's OMD USA. “We are definitely looking at making more of an investment in those types of ad products for our clients this year, and that’s everything from video in your ‘sponsored products’ and ‘sponsored search’ placements through to shoppable video experiences on Fire TV.”
Prime Day arrives as e-commerce has spiked in the U.S., with eMarketer expecting it to generate $843.15 billion in sales this year, a 6.1% increase. Meanwhile, in 2020, e-commerce sales had a breakout moment during the pandemic, growing 32.4%. Prime Day has become a summertime shopping event that generates billions in sales. Amazon doesn’t release the full haul from the day, but last year it said small- and medium-size businesses accounted for $3.5 billion, alone.
“Amazon has shown they are serious about having their DSP, not just being focused on brands on Amazon,” says Nii Ahene, chief strategy officer at Tinuiti, a performance marketing agency. “The fact they’re building these partnerships with data providers across the whole programmatic web, means they’re serious about having parity in their DSP with other players in the space.”
Prime Day will certainly be a moment for advertisers to check out how Amazon is evolving as an ad platform, including its DSP, which serves ads to its e-commerce website, video ads on IMDb TV and Twitch, and to third-party publishers. Amazon is taking advantage of a major sea-change in digital advertising by building new e-commerce data products that don’t rely on Google or Apple, which have been restricting marketer access to data that historically is collected through web browsers and phones.
Brands are investing in what’s known as first-party data, collecting their own useful information on consumers and applying that to advertising on platforms like Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat and beyond. Oracle and Omnicom are trying to help brands make use of that data, and their own, through Amazon’s ad tech.
“Amazon has a vast amount of online data, good online signals from what people are looking at inside [Amazon’s] environments,” says Derek Wise, chief product officer, Oracle Advertising. By connecting that data with Oracle's audience product, Wise says advertisers can get a bigger picture around a consumer and their interests. Oracle is bringing in 4,000 audience sets based on retail data, which it says includes niche groups like new boat owners, frequent telecom switchers, gluten-free buyers, and people in the market for a cruise.
The marketing strategy can’t just be about search ads and sponsored products when people visit Amazon.com, according to shopper marketers, especially as other retail giants try to steal share with their own sales events.
Advertisers have more possibilities through Amazon’s ad platform to target ads to outside websites, too. Brands work with ad agency and marketing partners to tap data from multiple sources, OMD’s Colon says, buttressing the data from Amazon. “This enables us to take external data signals and behaviors outside of Amazon, such as broader shopping behaviors, media consumption, and build custom audiences that can be combined with Amazon’s data,” he says.
The data that powers shopper marketing can also be used for advertising on other retail sites, like Walmart, Target and Best Buy.
“We’re not just thinking about Amazon, it’s important that we consider both Walmart and Target, which have announced sales that are going to overlap with Prime Day,” Colon says. “We know that shoppers are going to be price comparing and deal hunting on these days. We know that it’s going to be important how they show up across Amazon, as well as Walmart and Target.”
Don’t forget social
Social commerce has become a phenomenon this year that can’t be ignored. “There is going to be an element of influencers or creators to help navigate these sales events,” Colon says.
Livestreams on Instagram and posts on TikTok, as well as partnering with popular accounts on those platforms, can bring awareness to shopping deals. Meanwhile, Amazon has live-stream shopping and shoppable ad units on Fire TV and other video.
Amazon invested in video for Prime Day with a show planned for June 21 that will feature performers H.E.R., Billie Eilish and Kid Cudi, and will stream on Prime Video, Fire TV, Twitch and other platforms run by Amazon.
Twitch, Amazon’s video site which is best known for its contingency of gamers, also has a role on Prime Day. There are deals linked to Twitch streaming stars, as well as discounts for Twitch merchandise sold through Amazon.
Amazon also beefed up Amazon Live, the video streaming service used by influencers and brands. Amazon released an Amazon Live creator app last year to help “influencers,” popular internet stars with brand deals, create livestream videos that promote products and generate commissions on sales.
Advertisers say that Prime Day has helped them in the past to introduce their marketing teams to the world of shopper marketing. Prime Day has been around since 2015, and advertisers have learned a lot since those early days.
“The first Prime Day there was sort of mass panic,” says Frank Kochenash, president of Wunderman Thompson Commerce. Now, marketing partners are better prepared for running a smooth day.
A successful Prime Day can launch a brand into better standing on Amazon, Kochenash says. Handling all the details on the back-end is good practice in e-commerce that carries over throughout the year, like running effective search advertising campaigns on Amazon; promoting products when they are still in stock and not when they are sold out; having a full-time support staff monitoring the activity; and fulfilling orders promptly. A competent strategy can help brands achieve better visibility on Amazon, and even when they’re not paying for ads, products are boosted in search rankings and appear in other high-profile placements on the site.
Prime Day can be a moment for underdog brands to seize the day.
“It is excellent as an opportunity to drive this strong one day or two days of sales,” Kochenash says. “And importantly, it creates a spike in traffic to your website and in relevance that gets you potentially some halo effect. It’s particularly valuable for brands with a new product or for a new brand or a brand in challenger position that’s trying to gain share.”
Contributing: Mike Juang