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DSP + Search = Better Together (Amazon Advertising 101)

[Read Time: 7 Minutes]

In this industry, there’s a stat that floats around every year and eMarketer just gave us the updated number: 53% of US Adults go to Amazon when searching to make a digital purchase.

That’s 53% – more than double the amount of Google’s share (23%). Key takeaway, you probably should be using Amazon Search advertising more than traditional search if you’re selling products on Amazon.

So how do you stand out? We suggest that you combine your Search efforts with the demand generation and conversion tactics only available with Amazon DSP + Search Advertising.

Search Advertising Alone = 50 Points

Amazon Search advertising has been around officially, since January 2014. It was fun watching them take on Google back then. Today they’re no longer just a retailer; they’re the 3rd largest advertising platform that rivals Google and Facebook. 

Amazon has the best data for search because, as we mentioned before, 53% of shoppers go to Amazon to research products and 184MM monthly US visitors is too many to miss out on! 

Amazon also provides conversion metrics per keyword which helps determine the best keywords to choose for your advertising strategies.

Search Advertising is based on cost-per-click, where advertisers buy keywords that consumers type into the search bar (hence: Search). All of the advertisers bidding for that keyword are then put into an auction that lasts milliseconds.

Search Advertising is a much broader approach since Amazon doesn’t provide the same level of targeting refinements as DSP like age, zip code, mobile vs. desktop, etc., which is why it’s better to use DSP + Search to drive the shopper down the funnel.

Many advertisers focus their Amazon Search strategy centered around three key objectives: 

  1. Protecting their branded keywords,
  2. Conquesting their competitors’ keywords, and
  3. Targeting the undecided shopper who isn’t looking for specific brands keywords like “cold brew” vs. “wandering bear cold brew”.

DSP Alone = 50 Points

DSP, aka Demand-Side Platform, is the platform that allows advertisers to build and buy ad campaigns on and off Amazon. That’s right, you can buy ad space on Amazon-owned entities like IMDb and Fire TV as well as other top publishers outside of their owned-network.

What really differentiates DSP from Search is that it allows advertisers to run custom creative and Dynamic eCommerce Ads, along with Twitch ads, OLV ads, and OTT (over-the-top) ads on a much, more granular level. If Search is casting a wide net, DSP is like getting a new lure you just bought online, then choosing the best fishing spot in a lake where you know they’ve just restocked the fish.

DSP is based off of CPM (cost-per-thousand), rather than CPC (cost-per-click), so you pay for the ability to pick a specific target audience. You can target by age, gender, education level, the type of device they use, zip code…you name it…

When looking at CPM bid strategy, think of it as an apartment building that has many floors where each floor represents a different type of quality apartment. A high CPM bid strategy may get you a penthouse apartment like an online-video ad on a premium website like Forbes. A very low CPM bid strategy would get you an apartment in the basement on a tabloid website.

Take it from our Director of Sales Operations and Business Development in EMEA, Tyler Speer…

“If you as a brand want to get out of the CPC noise of 3P sellers and knockoffs on Amazon, go to display (DSP) to target a specific audience and help them understand the value that your product can bring.”

Tyler Speer, Director of Sales Operations and Business Development in EMEA

To give you an example, in the cold brew category the average CPC for the top of funnel search term “cold” has been upwards of $50 per click at times. The reason being, is that you have huge, well-established brands like Starbucks who are spending a lot of ad dollars from multiple funding sources within their massive company. Meanwhile, direct-to-consumer challenger brands like Wandering Bear can’t compete with Starbucks and their huge CPC bids.

What we’d recommend is to leverage a tactic called competitive ASIN remarketing where we can help our challenger brand target shoppers who looked at the Starbucks product that is heavily advertised and winning organic placement across many keywords, then target those shoppers who didn’t purchase.

With that strategy, we’re piggy-backing off of the large advertiser’s huge ad budget and being smart about talking to shoppers who weren’t buying their product (most likely due to reviews).

We then show them ads that have a call-to-action based on the negative reviews of the Starbucks product and in the ad creative we share how the challenger brand solves that problem.

We can even display those ads on search results pages in various different placements other than top-of-search. 

Depending on your goals, you may also want to serve DSP ads on Amazon’s site where we often see better click-through rates and sales. 

For example, this Wandering Bear ad could be served because a consumer was searching for the specific ASIN of a Starbucks French Dark Roast.

With granular DSP tactics like this, your advertising dollars can be extremely effective. Based on our experience, where DSP ads have really been shining is doing what’s called a PMP Deal where you identify specific, hyper-relevant sites off Amazon that you can serve ads to targets like coffee aficionados.

There’s some other tips and tricks to refine that strategy that we’ll share on the next DSP tactics blog post, keep an eye out for it coming soon.

So, what are the benefits of Search Advertising combined with this then?

Together, these two advertising tactics solve each other’s problems and their power is unstoppable! 

Start with Amazon’s excellent data, stored in their Data Management Platform (DMP…yes, it’s one letter off from DSP, we know). From there, you start at the top of the funnel going after potential customers who fit into your target audience.

DSP will help start this off with targeted ads on and off Amazon and a healthy mix of OTT ads to drive awareness with the binge-watchers out there. After seeing your product enough, they’ll jump onto Amazon to do their deep dive search to discover if they want to buy it.

This is where you hit them with a Search ad, putting your product at the top of the page, and therefore, top-of-mind in the customer’s mind. Search is basically meant to echo the message of the DSP campaign.

Flipping this equation on its head, you can start with the broad approach of using Search first. With this approach, you can target people shopping for items in your category on Amazon, then retarget them with ads that have conversion focused messaging and/or deal messaging.

Next thing they know, they’re being served ads outside of the platform for something they know they’re interested in, but haven’t completely finished the purchase cycle. Then just like that, BOOM!!, they’re back on Amazon and you’re in their shopping cart.

Amazon has even stated that Search and Display ads together increase demand for a brand’s products by over 100%, total sales by as much as 30%, and ROAS by as much as 160%.

If that doesn’t convince ya, I don’t know what will.

To Wrap Up

Search Advertising on Amazon is an excellent tool to use, but it’s limited targeting ability can only get you so far. That’s why we suggest you leverage Search and DSP Advertising to raise the level of your campaigns and reach your customers all throughout the funnel.

Not only will this game plan help you get much more granular with your approach, but you’ll also be able to achieve a better RoAS as well as employ strategic tactics like ASIN Remarketing.

If you want to learn more about how to leverage DSP + Search to #GrowTheDough for your products, please don’t hesitate to contact our Client Success team at: growthedough@channelbakers.com and bookmark our blog page for more real-time updates.

Hindsight is 2020 (Part 4): Ecommerce 2020 Recap

[Read Time: 7 Minutes]

2020 was a year unlike any other. Even baby boomers who were once afraid to put their credit card on the interwebs are shopping online coming out of 2020. Retail eCommerce sales grew 27.6% worldwide to the tune of $4.28 trillion in 2020, according to eMarketer.

But all this growth came alongside other significant changes in retail. Let’s break down some of the most impactful changes that this industry encountered in the year that had us all adapting, adjusting, and executing new strategies just to keep up.

Essential Items Became Every Item

In March, lockdown was initiated in the United States, which meant that businesses had to close their doors to all patrons. Foot traffic was traded for site visits and even suppliers were limited on their ability to produce.

Amazon proved they were no exception to this new normal when they announced on March 17th that they’d be limiting their shipping to essential items such as household necessities and medical supplies.

This was expected to last until April 5th, but the focus on essentials carried on for another 60-days in some categories. Eventually, Amazon started to allow brands and sellers to restock non-essential items again in late May and then the floodgates opened.

Rather than rushing to the store to stock up on toilet paper, consumers began buying literally everything they needed. Pet supplies and home and garden were the most purchased categories, holding down a 60% and 52% increase in online sales respectively. Fashion saw a 4% decline, which might be because no one really is wearing pants on their Zoom meetings.

Whether it was due to safety concerns or because we’re all working/shopping from home, the eCommerce industry saw an astronomical boom. Worldwide, eCommerce sales grew 27.6% in the year, for a total of $4.28 trillion. That’s with a T. But while eCommerce saw a huge boost, retail in general saw a decline of 3%. 

This could be the result of an increase in unemployment leading to less discretionary funds, or just a general sense of frugality during the pandemic.

Regionally, Latin America saw the largest growth in online sales of 36.7%, despite suffering worse-than-average declines in overall retail sales of -3.4%. 

Europe was around the middle of the pack on eCommerce growth at 27.7% average, but dropped further than most with a -5.6% retail loss. 

North America saw the second biggest increase with a 31.8% boost in eCommerce and was the only region to post a positive lift in total retail of 0.7%. 

This massive rise is considered to have accelerated the shift to eCommerce by 5 years! Events like Prime Day had a considerable boost, seeing $10.4 billion worth of goods sell on Prime Day, up 45.2% from $7.16 billion in 2019.

Plus, third-party sellers saw huge success on Prime Day with 60% growth YOY, generating $3.5B worldwide. Amazon even claimed that Prime Day was the “two biggest days ever for small and medium businesses in Amazon’s stores.”

So, with all of this increased engagement online, how did brick-and-mortars respond?

The Newest Retail Craze: Click-and-Collect

Click-and-Collect has been around for some time now. In fact, Target has been offering in-store pickup since 2013 and curbside joined their retail roster in 2017. However, the pandemic has brought this offering front-and-center. 

But they’re not the only ones adopting this practice. Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons, and others have jumped on the drive-up bandwagon. Affectionately named BOPIS (or Buy Online Pickup In-Store), this new form of commerce became a saving grace for struggling brick-and-mortar stores in 2020.

This led to an overall surge of 208% for curbside pickup in April compared with a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics.

Of course, delivery has seen its fair share of the pie too. Instacart grew its customer base 10x in just a few weeks. However, delivery apps have charges of their own, which eat into that profit retailers need to survive.

Click-and-Collect really ramped up this past year, but with about 68% of shoppers saying they’ll keep using it after the pandemic, we’re betting it’s here to stay. Inventions are usually made to ease the life of its user and this invention just took one (or maybe a few) steps out of the grocery shopping experience.

Whether it’s happening all online or online first, then in-store, what are the consequences of these new movements in shopping? Logistically speaking, logistics are being buried.

The Era of Returns

We’ve all done it. You buy a shirt online in two sizes and return the size that doesn’t fit perfectly or you order something on Black Friday and realize later that it’s a waste of space so you send it back.

Well imagine those instances multiplied by a billion. That’s right, billions of dollars of products are being returned via online shopping. It’s expected that $70.5 billion in returns will be processed from the holiday season alone.

Return rates typically hover around 25%-30%, but with eCommerce taking over the world’s shopping carts, returns have risen 70% year over year from 2019 to 2020, which puts return rates to almost 50% of products bought at retail or online being returned.

There could be many reasons for this rise, but shopping online seems to be the main culprit. People can’t see and feel exactly what they’re buying, so they get disappointed when it arrives and decide to return. 

Also, it’s just easier to return something when you don’t have to face a real human being. 

However, many stores count on you returning on location so that they can get another opportunity to make money off of you. Kohl’s does a great job of this by offering to return Amazon purchases for you, and they conveniently place the Amazon returns stand in an obscure location that takes you right past their shiniest jewelry.

There’s even a term for the act of buying clothes online in multiple sizes and colors and returning which ones you don’t like. It’s called bracketing and I’ve definitely done it a few times because, what’s the harm?

Well, the harm is that we could be truly damaging our environment. eCommerce returns generated 5 billion tons of waste from shipping, not to mention all of the carbon dioxide from unnecessary trips back to the warehouse. 

And with Amazon’s returns topping $428 billion, this can put a dent in their Climate Pledge initiative. Reverse logistics are the name of the game and if anyone can figure out how to optimize them, it’s Amazon.

For now, companies like Amazon and Walmart have begun using AI to determine if a return is even worth it. Each item can cost $10-$20 to return, so if they can’t resell a product or it’s cheaper than the cost of shipping, these etailers have started to just forgo the return and pay people back.

This recently happened to me when I tried to return a pair of chairs to Wayfair that were damaged in transit. I clicked return, my money was sent back, and a notice popped up saying, “You don’t need to return the item.” and the same thing recently happened with Amazon as well. 

Will refunds without a physical return be the norm? To what degree will the online furniture business be challenged by unscrupulous people who just want free furniture? That’s one of those “Things that make you go hmmmmm!”

Just like everything else during this pandemic, companies are finding ways to adapt and overcome. It’s a step in the right direction, but over-returning is something we also see sticking around now that people have found the convenience in it.

To Wrap Up

This past year was nothing short of historic, especially for eCommerce. Accelerating the shift to eCommerce by 5 years is the outcome of a world that spends all day inside and online. 

2020 had every business scrambling to find ways to appease their digital consumers, while some were further ahead than others. Click-and-collect (or BOPIS) became the norm for big box brands and mom and pops alike. Returns flooded into warehouses all over the world and we discovered that living remote is possible if we really put our minds to it. 

We’re excited to see what this massive amount of growth will bring eCommerce going forward.

If you want to learn more about how to navigate these changes in the eCommerce world and #GrowTheDough for your products, please don’t hesitate to contact our Client Success team at growthedough@channelbakers.com and bookmark our blog page for more real-time updates.

Hindsight is 2020 (Part 3): Shopper Behavior 2020 Recap

[Read Time: 7 Minutes]

2020 changed so many things about our lives: the way we communicate, the way we work, and also, the way we shop. Our research shows that 70% of participants stated they’ve increased their online shopping up to 40% during the pandemic.

But like the many historic events of 2020, going online wasn’t the only disruption to our collective shopper behavior. Here are some of the most impactful changes that consumers made when looking to spend money last year.

Bulk Buying for Your Bottom

Ahh the neverending jokes about toilet paper that will come out of this pandemic. It goes to show that even though people were literally stocking their bunkers, our society can still find time for a nice poop joke. 

People weren’t just stockpiling on TP though. They were bulk buying sanitizing supplies like hand sanitizer, masks, disinfecting wipes, and isopropyl alcohol. The Cask+Mate mask even came in as the #2 most purchased item on Prime Day, just behind the Airpods Pro.

Statista ran a study to see what shopper behaviors increased and found that an overwhelming 44% of grocery shoppers stocked up on household essentials. This was evident whenever you went into the bread aisle and saw a lone loaf of Ezekiel bread and a tumbleweed roll by.

Shoppers also took the opportunity at home to start cooking healthy. Vegetables consistently hit double-digit sales growth from March to September. Immunity boosters also saw huge numbers like Oranges gaining a 56.4% YOY dollar growth while products like watercress, ginger, and lemons had their day in the sun too.

Curiously enough, big ticket items weren’t necessarily put on pause. From a survey of 1000 respondents, we found that 49% still made big purchases on items like a TV, PS5, or even a refrigerator. And even more shocking, 71% said they went for the premium brand rather than the value brand.

However, all these purchases weren’t enough to consistently stimulate brick-and-mortar foot traffic. This could be because customers simply were buying bulk instead of their weekly grocery shopping trips, but we think it’s because of another trend that took place.

The Age of eCommerce

The shift to online shopping in 2020 was expected to have advanced 5 years past its projections! And this influx of digitally savvy shoppers didn’t just come from the TikTok generation. 

From February to March, the number of baby boomers shopping online went from 8% to 23% and then up to 45% in June, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). And that number is expected to hit 62.1% when all the data is wrapped up for the year.

This is most likely due to the fact that the coronavirus is most deadly to the elderly, causing them to stay indoors and connect to the outside world via their phones and computers. For them, shopping in a store has the potential to be fatal, but clicking a button? That’s easy enough to do from the comfort of a La-Z Boy.

This demographic is also a large contributor to the 60% of people who tried a new form of shopping in the past year. Whether it be a delivery service like Instacart or the new(-ish) trend of Buy Online Pickup In-Store (aka BOPIS, or Click-and-Collect), there might be quite a few baby boomers that aren’t afraid to put their credit card on the interwebs anymore.

We also wanted to find out if people were mainly shopping on mobile or desktop for their online shopping needs and we found that 56% were joining in the mCommerce (mobile commerce) movement, which was more than expected.

But where are they shopping exactly? We asked 1000 people which of the following retail eCommerce sites is where they do most of their online shopping. Here are the results.

Amazon still came out on top, as expected, with 15% of people doing 90%-100% of their online shopping there. It’s also worth noting that 63% of the 1,000 people we surveyed stated that they do more than half of their online shopping on Amazon.

Walmart.com came in second with only 2%, followed by Target and Costco with 1% each. Amazon also over-indexed in all other categories.

This could be a large reason why 53% of product searches online are started on Amazon.com. But what else is driving people to add items to their virtual shopping carts?

The Social Revolution

Twitch has seen an especially strong boost during the pandemic with growth of 26.2% in 2020 to 41.5 million users. 

Partnering with its parent company via Amazon Prime Video, Twitch also launched Watch Parties as well. Streamers could watch TV shows and movies with their followers for an interactive experience. This brought advertisers flocking to the streaming site to push shoppers back to their products.

It also helped brands connect to their audience when musical artists put on full concerts via Twitch, which brought the number of hours spent streaming music and performing arts content on Twitch to 17.6 million, up 387% YoY.

With TikTok joining the 1 billion users club, it’s officially primed to become a money-making machine for retailers and brands alike.

Facebook and Instagram have already incorporated shops into their platforms and now the dance challenge, recipe hacking, sea shanty vessel platform, TikTok has added Shopify to their partner list, enabling them to sell directly on-app to all TikTokers.

eMarketer found that 167.8 million people will have used their mobile device to make an online purchase and we can’t help but think that some of them aren’t even leaving their favorite social media app to do so. 

This is especially valid during the pandemic, where online shoppers who’ve used social media to shop rose from 27% to 35% and that it just continues to grow.

Plus, influencers are called that for a reason: because they influence their followers by promoting brands that they’re demographic aligns with. It’s a tried-and-true method that agencies like ours are excited to offer.

And yes, we are an eCommerce and Advertising agency first, but have you seen the rise of influencer marketing on Amazon? The past Prime Day was a great example of leveraging influencers to reach their audience with deals and now they can even sell on Amazon Live, akin to a QVC for a younger generation.

This trend of social selling isn’t going anywhere and we’re quickly adapting and building to meet the demand for our clients.

Something you might have missed is Twitch

It’s rumored that Amazon is going to spend millions in advertising to heavily promote their Twitch streaming platform as the new norm for all things Live streaming. From virtual concerts (even virtual rave-a-thons), to Live fitness classes, cooking shows, and more. 

What this means for brands, is that Twitch is going to be a whole new way to engage people in real-time through Twitch online video ads that play just before a streamer goes live, and that’s just one ad product for brands to leverage.

To Wrap Up

2020 changed the way we look at many things, especially the grocery store. The pandemic was a catalyst for digital shopping experiences for everyone, including baby boomers, and we’ve all transitioned to making eCommerce the new normal.

It started out with bulk buying medical supplies and household goods, but now shoppers are focusing on healthy foods and sustainable products. 

Another shopper behavior trend we see gaining steam is the increase of social media commerce. Influencers are promoting products, and followers are buying, which is just the start of the next shopping revolution.

We’re keeping our finger on the pulse of 2021 to see how these trends will continue because they’ve already gained too much momentum to slow down now.

If you want to learn more about how to leverage shopper behavior to #GrowTheDough for your products, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at: growthedough@channelbakers.com and bookmark our blog page for more real-time updates.

Hindsight is 2020 (Part 2): Amazon.com, Inc. 2020 Recap

[Read Time: 3 Minutes]

Now that the dust has (hopefully) settled from 2020, let’s take a look back at it with fresh eyes. With everyone shuttered inside, people were turning to online shopping, which presented Amazon with the unique opportunity of gaining steam in becoming the de facto retailer for much of the world’s needs.

From only selling essential items in the first half of the year to gaining a 31% increase YOY in revenue ($347.946B), Amazon came out on top during the pandemic. But this success didn’t just come about through luck; they were constantly adapting and innovating to capitalize on the increased demand for online shopping.

Here are some of the noteworthy changes that happened with Amazon in 2020 that will affect its business moving forward.

Amazon Global

Not one who will be considered behind (even though Elon just topped the richest man chart), Jeff Bezos always has his eyes set on the future for Amazon. He made major acquisitions and threw the world some real curveballs throughout the year.

Here are a few of Amazon’s most groundbreaking moves from 2020:

1. At the end of March, in order to shift logistics to support flattening the curve of the pandemic spread, Amazon limited shipping to “essential items” through most of Q2 2020

2. Amazon increased their physical footprint around the world to over 365MM square feet

3. Amazon hired 175k employees to keep up with the pandemic (100k jobs filled in 30 days)

4. Amazon pushed Prime Day back to October 13th-14th, kicking off the holiday season and generating $10.4 billion in worldwide sales for Amazon, up 45.2% from last year’s event

5. Amazon invested $2B in Climate Pledge, aiding their goal of getting the company to “net zero” carbon emissions by 2040

6. Amazon announced that it now has 150MM Prime Members worldwide with 126MM in the US

7. Amazon bought the self-driving car company Zoox for $1.2B

8. Amazon entered the pharmaceutical industry with Amazon Pharmacy enabling the tech giant to fulfill prescriptions and ship medications two years after their PillPack acquisition for $753MM

9. Amazon Amazon bought Wondery, a podcast production studio, to increase their streaming reach

10. Amazon bought a stake in UK digital supply chain startup Beacon to improve international trade logistics

11. Amazon started offering free VAT registration to automate VAT across the EU

12. Whole Foods announced one-hour grocery pickup at all stores

13. Amazon opened its first Amazon Fresh store in Woodland Hills, followed by 2 more across California

14. Amazon’s hardware sales event in September announced the new gaming platform called Luna, a Ring home drone security cam, an updated Echo line, and more

15. Amazon sellers in the US are now required to list their names and addresses, which aims to cut down on bad actors

16. Amazon launched a program to pay consumers for their data on non-Amazon purchases

17. Amazon had a successful fashion summer sale in June to jumpstart sales after the “essential items” focus

18. Amazon launched “Made for You” T-shirts that use a virtual body double from the user’s photos to create custom, build-to-size clothing, foreshadowing a try-before-you-buy AI tool that is in development

To Wrap Up

This past year was one that required resilience, adaptability, and quick-thinking. Amazon was able to pivot and change their entire year’s projected plans to accommodate a world in quarantine.

From hiring 175k essential workers to creating a pharmacy arm that fulfills prescriptions, Amazon took 2020 in stride and kept us all just two days away from whatever we needed to get through another day. 

We’re always looking to add value to everyone we meet, so whether you’re a company looking for the biggest updates, an avid student of the industry, or a brand looking for opportunities to maximize your sales, spend efficiency, or overall Amazon knowledge, we hope this recap brought you some insight and inspiration for the year ahead.

If you want to learn more about how these Amazon innovations can be leveraged to #GrowTheDough for your products, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at: growthedough@channelbakers.com and bookmark our blog page for more real-time updates.

Hindsight is 2020 (Part 1): Amazon Advertising 2020 Recap

[Read Time: 4 Minutes]

2020 was the year of digital advertising. But among all the shifts in advertising this year, Retail became the largest digital ad spending vertical.

From a brand perspective, we’ve seen Amazon expand a number of ways that allow us to reach shoppers on and off Amazon throughout 2020. There have been multiple updates per month across Sponsored Ads and the DSP console.

And even though there are way too many updates to mention, here are some of the most noteworthy changes that can make a positive impact on your business moving forward.

International Advertising Moves

Many brands have long been wanting to expand their advertising to the other regions around the world that their brand sells in. 

At the same time, Amazon was also focused on expanding their advertising capabilities around the world in order to help brands reach more international audiences. From translation options to FireTV in new regions, here are some of the global updates they initiated in 2020.

  1. Sponsored Brands gained a translation option for campaigns
  2. Amazon Advertising launched in Brazil and the Netherlands, including Sponsored Display
  3. Sponsored Ads and Stores launched in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  4. Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and Stores launched in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  5. Amazon Attribution (beta) launched in Canada and Europe for better reporting and data analytics from social ads
  6. Sponsored Products product targeting launched in Canada and Australia
  7. Fire TV now offers two new ad products in Canada: Home Inline Banner and Sponsored Tiles

Amazon Advertising Platforms

The world of advertising was shaken up this past year, but that just meant it had to adapt. Digital advertising is the medium that saw the largest impact and innovation during the pandemic. Here are some of the biggest changes that Amazon made to its digital advertising platforms.

  1. Sponsored Brands Video became available in the US, helping your ads stand out on mobile and desktop (which has quickly proven to be the #1 placement for best click through rate performance)

2. With ⅔ of Brand Store visits coming through a mobile device, Amazon built a Custom Mobile Layout option to edit stores specifically for mobile

3. Ad groups are available for vendors now to organize and manage Sponsored Products ads within a campaign (used to just be for sellers)

4. Sponsored Brands ads will now feature deal messaging and badges, without having to create deal-specific headlines or campaigns

5. Sponsored Brands creative like image, logo, and headlines finally became editable after a campaign is live (thanks Amazon this was a big one!)

6. Sponsored Brands has doubled the image size on mobile 

7. Brand Stores now allows for tall images as an option, which can bring about a 13% increase in click-through rate (CTR)

8. Amazon Advertisers can now reach up to 50M monthly active users on Fire TV

9. Amazon provided a video builder for brands to streamline video ad creation with minimal inputs

10. Sponsored Brands ads are now available on Detail Pages

11. Amazon released “Store Versions” so you can create seasonal offerings and switch them back to the default store once the deal is over

12. With Amazon DSP, you can now build audiences based on content streamed on Prime Video

13. The Amazon Attribution Beta now made Bulk operations available for Google and Facebook ads to edit campaigns faster

14. Contextual targeting is now improved with Amazon DSP as Amazon worked closer with 3rd party data sources like Oracle Data Cloud

Something HUGE to pay attention to in 2021

Apple has announced that they plan to kill the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) through an iOS14 update. What this means to you as a brand is going to vary, but it will be centered around the ability to keep your advertising relevant to the audience you are aiming to reach. 

This post on Facebook Advertising’s website has a lot more to say about the impact iOS14 can have on your advertising. You can expect that we’ll be talking a lot about this very hot topic in 2021!

To Wrap Up

Whether you’re an advertiser looking for the biggest updates, the best practices, or just looking for opportunities to maximize your spend efficiency, we hope this recap brought you some insight and inspiration for the year ahead.

If you want to learn more about how these Amazon innovations can be leveraged to #GrowTheDough for your products, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at: growthedough@channelbakers.com and bookmark our blog page for more real-time updates.

What Is Amazon’s Gameplan with Amazon Pharmacy?

Imagine you walk into your local pharmacy to pick up your medication and you spot that phone charger you need for your car. Plus, a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos sounds pretty good. Next thing you know, you’re paying for a basket full of small items when you just came in to grab some meds.

This is a huge driver for pharmacy stores like CVS, with retail sales making up around 30% of its business to the tune of $74B. Now, flip that formula on its head where you can shop for everything you want instantaneously…plus fill your prescriptions online. Welcome to Amazon Pharmacy – the next worldwide disruptor on Amazon’s roster.

Prescriptions on Prime

After buying PillPack in 2018 for $753MM, people were questioning what Amazon was going to do with a company that delivers monthly medications. Well, they just answered those questions with Amazon Pharmacy – an online platform to fill prescriptions and order medications.

Customers will be able to send their prescriptions directly to Amazon.com, which accepts most insurances, but also provides a discount to Prime members of up to 80% off generic and 40% off brand name medications when paying without insurance.

And yes, Primers will get that famous 2-day (maybe one-day?) shipping too.

PillPack gave Amazon license to operate a pharmacy in almost every state, which not only helps in America but also countries abroad like Germany that require a pharmacy license to even sell OTC drugs.

For brands like Sanofi, this could mean a huge opportunity has just presented itself where they can now finally sell products beyond their OTC lines.

Plus, Amazon has hired licensed members to be available (delete) to answer questions 24/7, just like at your local pharmacy. But luckily, they won’t make you sit in a plastic chair playing with the blood pressure machine for 15 minutes.

This move has definitely had some ripple effects in the healthcare industry, too. Due to Amazon’s new ability to provide price matching on medication, GoodRx’s stock price dropped 22.5% the day of the announcement.

Convenience pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens also saw slight stock price dips as well. And we’ve even heard some new radio ads announcing steep discounts from CVS trying to bring in new customers.

But the same thing happened with the Whole Foods purchase back in 2017 – other brands smelled trouble and ramped up their efforts in response. Walmart added more grocery pickup stations, Costco launched its own same-day delivery, and Target bought delivery app Shipt.

This didn’t seem to completely upend the grocery industry. So, could Amazon really succeed in this new pharmacy space?

Amazon Has a Track Record of Winning (Almost) Anywhere

This is what Amazon does. They analyze verticals to see how they can beat the competition and then they jump right in. 

We just haven’t seen them attack something this big since Amazon Web Services (AWS). And currently AWS holds a large majority of the top 100 sites’ cloud computing, so it looks like that was a solid move on their part.

Let’s go back to one aspect of Amazon Pharmacy’s offering: They allow competitive pricing for customers without insurance. And sometimes, the Prime price is the best price for prescription medications. Sound familiar? 

Amazon does this with every industry, just look at AmazonBasics. And now they can even win adjacent customers as well as those looking for pharmaceuticals based on pricing and offerings.

This move could also help them win the 31% of customers aged 55+ shopping online more due to the pandemic, providing them a place to get their meds at competitive pricing that Medicaid can’t even compete with (or cover for that matter).

But winning the customer on pricing is just the first step. According to Sarah LaVallee, our VP of Client Success…

“This is just the gateway drug to the larger medical industry (pun obviously intended).”

Sarah LeVallee, VP Client Success

So what is Amazon really up to?

What’s the Gameplan?

As with every other industry Amazon has invested in, just selling a few extra products here and there is not the end goal.

They bought Twitch to take over the gaming AND streaming markets. They bought Ring and Blink to become completely integrated into their customers homes. And now they can sell prescription medications online.

So here are a few of our predictions of what Amazon Pharmacy will lead to, rated from least to most bold:

(Least Bold) Amazon will deliver medications that require refrigeration on their trucks.

What if Amazon built up their delivery trucks to be able to transport medicines that require cold temperatures? They already refrigerate trucks enough to deliver AmazonFresh groceries, so it would just take a little more maintenance (and probably a lot of money, too).

(Bold-ish) Amazon will start opening pharmacies in brick-and-mortar stores.

Look out for pharmacies in Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh Stores pretty soon. They already have the locations, which would allow them to not only battle CVS and Walgreens online but also in the brick-and-mortar landscape.

(Getting Bolder) Amazon will deliver medications via drone. 

UPS and CVS recently teamed up to deliver medications via drone in Florida. Automated delivery is a technology that Amazon has been developing since 2016, so if high-risk people don’t want to leave the house, Amazon can just deliver through the air. Plus, Alexa already reminds you when to take your meds, so why wouldn’t she automatically fly them to you too?

(Most Bold) Amazon is going to take over the healthcare industry.

Now that’s an end goal. Amazon has been setting up for something of this caliber for a while now. Last year, they created Haven along with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan to provide affordable and efficient healthcare services to their own employees. 

This year, they released the Halo band, which is wearable technology that can track your physical health, sleep, and even stress levels through your voice.

And now Amazon can fulfill prescriptions online (not to mention sell their own brand of OTC products called Amazon Basic Care). All of these services bundled together with every other aspect of Amazon’s product line will give them the perfect look into a customer’s health.

Creating Amazon Insurance would be the perfect end solution to drive to. Everything would be housed online, plus Amazon’s 24/7 service is leading the way for them to enable telemedicine.

Customers could even set up virtual meetups with an Amazon doctor, paid for by Amazon Insurance, who then writes a prescription that’s automatically sent to Amazon.com, fulfilled, and shipped the same day on a truck with a smile on it. Hell, why not just call it Smile Insurance?

Wrap It Up

To sum up, convenience pharmacies like CVS are going to have to rethink their whole strategy to retain customers and insurance companies might even have to wise up too. Amazon has the infrastructure, digital capacity, and backing to be able to take on whatever industry they want. 

After all, healthcare is an $8T industry while retail is just a measly $2.4T. So buckle up because this is just the beginning.

20 Stats to Drive Your Video Marketing Strategy (2021)

Video Marketing can be extremely beneficial and lucrative for your business. Not only does it have higher rates of conversion, but it can positively impact the customer journey throughout their entire purchase cycle. 

That’s why we suggest incorporating video into your full-funnel advertising strategy. But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s 20 reasons why video marketing should be on your radar and in your plans for 2021.

Your Best Kept Secret for Q4: STEALTH DEALS

There’s 10 seconds left on the clock in the 4th quarter. It’s 3rd down, the game is tied, and the season’s on the line. You have your Amazon digital playbook in front of you. What’s your call?

As 2020 is coming to an end, you could go for a Hail Mary. Unfortunately, the Hail Mary only works 2.5% of the time, but the QB Sneak is much more successful. So, it might be time to get a little stealthier than usual with your Retail eCommerce strategy.

This Year Calls for Something…Creative

It’s no secret that this year’s been tough on brick-and-mortar. 

eMarketer projects a 4.7% decline for brick-and-mortar, while the pandemic caused over 100,000 SMBs to close their doors in Q2 alone and a major gap in many brands’ sales forecast for 2020. 

Also looming over your brand’s 2020 revenue forecast is the dreaded “retail apocalypse”, which is looking to close even more stores in Q1 of 2021.

And now, it’s getting near the end of the year and your team is turning to you for a strategy to close the gap and make up a large part of the company’s lost sales. They also want you to do something new, but you’ve already tried everything.

Also…they’ve given you a directive to not disrupt (tick-off) the other brick-and-mortars, or any other sales channels. So, what options are you left with?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could tackle all that and deliver a few other unexpected, but awesome, outcomes…

Introducing (Quietly) Stealth Deals

Imagine you could not only use what’s left of your marketing budget wisely, but also not alert your competitors of the great deals you’re posting. How about that, plus targeting shoppers who looked at, but did not purchase your competitor’s detail pages? Well, you’ve just imagined Stealth Deals!

Stealth Deals are a different breed of remarketing in which you target potential customers who have looked at your competitors’ products and then drive them to a Custom Landing Page with a hidden deal.

When developing your competitor product target list, you want to keep your feature sets very similar to the competitors’ product pages, with a few superior callouts and of course, a lower price. And to sweeten the deal, throw in different levels of offers like Canon did here.

This Stealth Deals page isn’t searchable and thus, is hidden from anyone who doesn’t click on the display ad you’re serving up. This way, you don’t alert your competition so they can’t price match your killer deal.

On the other hand, Detail Pages are very public and everyone (including other retail channel partners) can see them.

Stealth-like discretion is why a Custom Landing Page is better than a Detail Page for this specific tactic. The same applies with Brand Stores vs. Custom Landing Pages because Amazon Sponsored Ads moderation teams don’t let you call out discounts in Brand Stores. 

This tactic leveraged with a Custom Landing Page is basically the perfect sales assassin to grab as much market share from the competition as possible!

When Do I Strike?

Now! With eCommerce picking up the slack for brick-and-mortars’ drop in sales, it’ll reach a 35.8% increase, which is an incremental $50.19B in the holiday season alone. 

Your budget most likely hasn’t increased and aCPC’s for Amazon Search have skyrocketed. With this DSP tactic (which we all know is impression-based advertising), it’s possible to get an effective, lower aCPC through really hyper-focused targeting combined with amazing ad creative.

And with how stealthy this tactic is, you won’t be disrupting any of your other sales channels, just increasing your eCommerce conversions.

There’s no better time than now, too. Even though the Turkey 5 didn’t reach projections, it fell only slightly short of its massive expected numbers.

You can shrink the sales gap left in the wake of the pandemic by driving these sneaky deals. And this promotional plan can be implemented now to get products in customers’ hands before Christmas Eve as well as right after for a year-end push. 

Stealth Deals are an extremely effective way to use the remaining budget you’re left with this holiday season.

If you’d like to learn more about how to utilize Stealth Deals, reach out to sarahl@channelbakers.com today.

Enhanced Image Galleries (Why, What, and How)

At first glance, you can usually tell if an Amazon product page is engaging or if it falls flat. And since A+ content (formerly Enhanced Brand Content) is a tried and true way to increase conversion on detail pages, it’s safe to say that shoppers can sniff out great products just by looking at the image gallery as well.

Of course there are a bunch of other things you can be doing to rank higher and sell more on Amazon, but if a single tool can have that large of an impact, why wouldn’t you utilize it?

The History of A+ pages also known as Enhanced Brand Content (EBC)

If there’s one thing we do know, it’s that Amazon will never get tired of coming up with acronyms. But don’t worry, we’re compiling a list of that Amazonian alphabet soup for you right now, so stay tuned.

However, the following acronym was pretty well known up until a couple of years ago: EBC, also known as Enhanced Brand Content. This “Brand Content” was simply better-than-average images and more engaging content below the fold.

Enhanced Brand Content was originally only available in Vendor Central. Smaller startup challenger brands who grew up on Seller Central usually didn’t have a relationship with Amazon (predating Amazon LaunchPad) and had no access to EBC or anything like it.

Like all startups, when there’s a roadblock, they’ll always find a workaround. That workaround paved the way for today’s best practices for all brands, whether they are based in Vendor Central or Seller Central. (We’ll dig deeper into that workaround in a minute!)

Flashback to 2017, Enhanced Brand Content became available for free to Seller Central-based brands (who were registered with Brand Registry), while brands in Vendor Central were still having to pay for the original version of A+ Basic – aka the next level above EBC.

In January 2018, Amazon made A+ Basic free for brands in Vendor Central. Just a few months prior to that, Amazon had launched A+ Premium, which was a more advanced version of A+ content that was optimized for mobile and Amazon’s mobile app.

Fast forward a couple of years and A+ Content has become the norm, allowing vendors and sellers alike to create awesome content from pre-determined modules on the platform. 

According to Amazon, “Adding A+ to your product detail pages can result in higher conversion rates, increased traffic, and increased sales when used effectively.” So that begs the question…

Why Doesn’t Everyone Use It Then?

First of all, it takes time to build. That’s why it’s often best to employ an agency to devote the time, care, and attention needed to create it for you (*cough* Channel Bakers *cough*).

Now, it is possible to roll up your sleeves and get into the platform yourself for some good ‘ol fashioned content creation. Amazon does provide detailed descriptions on what each section requires, but that’s just the half of it.

When it comes to your product title, description, and bullet points, we highly suggest having a skilled Copywriter take care of this so that your Detailed Page Optimization (DPO) is clean and SEO-friendly, ranking your products higher in search.

And yes, you most likely have some beautiful images from a recent shoot, showcasing each angle of your product. While we definitely believe that’s great to have, we suggest using your image gallery for something that’s much, much more important: telling your brand’s story.

As you can guess, product shots alone don’t exactly tell a story. Sure, the customer gets to see every angle of the product, but it doesn’t give them any reasons to believe in the product.

Once upon a time the best practice was to leverage lifestyle images as the way to tell your product’s story, but that was literally decades ago (think back to the early dotcom boom).

Back then and even up until 2014, Amazon’s Vendor Central Retail Business Services (RBS) moderation team would reject any images that had content embedded in them. The data standards rule in Vendor Central was “85% product, 15% white background”.

And this is where the challenger startup brand workaround comes into play. (Told ya we’d get there!)

Challenger brands that began their Amazon selling journey started on Seller Central. Well…Seller Central didn’t (and still doesn’t) have a data standards moderation team that rejects images that brands submit through the Seller Central console.

Boom! Seller-based challenge startup brands began injecting their A+ content into their images in the image gallery carousel, which was scrappy, way ahead of their time, and super-effective.

Here’s a few examples of awesome Seller Central based challenger brands (*cough* Channel Bakers clients *cough*).

You might be saying, “Ah yes Josh, but I’m a larger, non-startup brand that lives in Vendor Central and we’re not allowed to upload images with A+ content embedded.” As of 2013, I would have agreed wholeheartedly with you…but what if I told you that was not the case for your ASINs today?

You see, Samsung gets it…(*cough* also a Channel Bakers client *cough*). 

Compare Samsung Galaxy Buds to the most popular product on Prime Day 2020, according to Amazon search terms data.

Apple doesn’t get it…

Looking at this image gallery we’re seeing a handful of pictures that give us absolutely no context as to why we’re looking at them, let alone why they selected these images.

According to Euclid Analytics, 51% of U.S. households use the Amazon Mobile App. With a recent update to this app, the image gallery now overtakes the entire screen when you click to zoom in on the images inside the carousel.

These Amazon Mobile App optimized images are something we call an “Enhanced Image Gallery” (and no, we are not calling it the EIG).

Brad Malm, our Creative Director at Channel Bakers, calls the Enhanced Image Galleries…

a beautiful combination of art and science that use your brand’s guidelines and messaging to educate your consumers with easily digestible information. It looks great, but it also gives a quick snapshot into how this product can make your life easier.”

Brad Malm, Channel Bakers Creative Director

Plus, this kind of information does a great job of informing potential customers of your product’s features, leading to less returns and negative reviews.

It’s All About the Execution

The ultimate goal is to have a unique mix of engaging content and informative, stylized imagery. The entire image gallery should take the customer on a journey, answering their questions along the way.

Key points like verified 5-star reviews, industry awards, and sizzle videos are great ways to legitimize your product in the image gallery. Also, including a 360° spin image has been proven to add a 6-8% increase in conversion.

But the best way to make your Enhanced Image Gallery shine? User experience.

With 151M monthly users on the Amazon Mobile App, the best thing you can do is optimize your images so that they’re mobile-friendly.

This means adding in portrait images to take over more of the screen while they scroll. For instance, you can fit quite a lot of information into one of these images while still providing some product imagery to tie it all together.

And according to a survey we ran on Suzy.com, 61% of users prefer to swipe left and right on an image gallery while mobile shopping (thank you, Tinder).

Also, consider that a desktop allows for 9 images (or 7 if you add a video), which is a great amount of shots for people to peruse through. However, mobile only shows the first 5 to 7 depending on the category. So, we typically frontload the first 5-6 images with the strongest storytelling pieces possible to grab the user’s attention.

There are still countries out there like Canada, where 73% of users shop on desktop, and Brazil, where 34% of users don’t make digital purchases because they like to see the product beforehand.

But that trend is changing every year. The worst thing you can do is let someone else register your product’s ASIN on Amazon before you do. 

If a third party (3P) seller gets into the Brand Registry before you list it, they have complete control over the product’s description, bullets, and worst of all, the image gallery. Unfortunately, if they beat you to the punch then Amazon doesn’t have much power to kick their images out for yours.

This is where 3P sellers can really be detrimental to your brand’s story, so get in first and get in fast.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve got a bunch of other secret sauce that we’d love to implement to build your following and educate your customers on just how fantastic your brand is.

Reach out to bradm@channelabakers.com to see how we can optimize your Enhanced Brand Images today.

Amazon Wasn’t the Only Winner On Prime Day

Going into 2020, Amazon was already primed to have a record setting year with a projected revenue of $350B, up 50% from 2019…and then the pandemic struck. After the initial toilet paper rush into brick and mortar stores, people started switching to online shopping.

The pandemic brought 145MM new online shoppers (you know…the folks who are still afraid to use their credit card on the interwebs), which resulted in plenty of success for Amazon, especially during their recent, record-setting Prime Day. 

But that doesn’t mean Amazon is capitalizing on this pandemic. On the contrary, they’ve been extending a helping hand by emphasizing essentials like hand sanitizer (pun intended).

Looking Out for the Little Guys

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have been hit the hardest by the economic shutdown of 2020. With over 100,000 SMBs shutting their doors for good, Amazon brought it upon themselves to lend a helping hand.

So they set forth a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, aiming to invest $18B in SMBs to get them back on their feet. And if there’s one thing we can expect from entrepreneurs, it’s that they know how to pivot when faced with adversity. In fact, for many of them, when the doors closed, the laptops opened. 

Amazon has already seen 1,029,528 new sellers join this year and according to a Bluehost survey, 50% of SMBs plan to stay online only.

As for shoppers, Amazon made it a point to keep production running, but only for essential items so that consumers could get all the face masks, hand sanitizer, and diapers they needed. This ethical move was coupled with a price cap on many essential items to make sure shoppers weren’t getting gouged in a time where unemployment was teetering on 20%.

Society’s shift to online shopping has brought a significant change in the way we view the holiday season as well. According to Radial, 60% of consumers plan to shop less in-store this season due to fear of COVID-19 exposure. But it also follows a trend that’s been popping up every year around Black Friday…

Does this mean Black Friday’s in the Dark?

According to the CDC, shopping at crowded stores around Thanksgiving is a high-risk activity that should be avoided.  Over the past couple of years, society has been pushing for a new way to get their holiday shopping done. From REI’s Opt Outside campaign to worldwide protests against consumerism, there has been an “anti-Black Friday” perspective emerging.

So what does this mean for Black Friday and brick and mortar retailers?

One thing that we can glean from this pandemic is that brick and mortar stores have had to re-invent their in-store experience.

Both Walmart and Target have put a huge emphasis on click and collect over the past few years, which has contributed to their omni-channel success this year – Walmart.com with 65.4% YoY growth and Target with 103.5% growth.

Walmart also recently announced that they’ll be revamping their Black Friday sales structure. Rather than having crowds of bargain hunters in-store, they’ll be limiting the amount of shoppers allowed inside while spreading the savings “throughout the season”. They’ll also be implementing shorter store hours and keeping up with all coronavirus prevention guidelines.

So, Who Won Prime Day Then?

According to NBC, Apple Airpods Pro were the top selling item during Prime Day, but in second place? Safe+Mate face masks! Next came Samsung’s 65” QLED Smart TV followed by the Yosuda Stationary Bike. This trend of purchasing health and wellness items mirrors what has been consistent throughout this entire year of quarantine.

Amazon also put out a press release stating that marketplace sellers were the winners this year with 60% growth to reach more than $3.5B. And with 2.3MM SMBs making up Amazon’s online marketplace and Prime Day sales skyrocketing to over 260 million items, that’s a solid win for sellers everywhere.

At Channel Bakers, we’re keeping our finger on the pulse and watching this data closely. Where others may see barriers, we try to help our clients find a strategic advantage.

Sarah Lavallee, our VP of Client Success at Channel Bakers, said, “The brands that “win Prime Day” are those that use it strategically as a springboard to make Black Friday/Cyber Monday even more successful.  It is rare to have three major high-traffic events in Q4 during a time where we’ve seen a significant shift in consumer purchasing behavior.  Brands that don’t leverage this to their advantage are missing a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Let’s switch gears back to brick and mortar.

Near the end of every year, brick and mortar stores go through a re-evaluation “reset” to see what products have been moving and what has gone stale on their shelves. Unfortunately, the pandemic has had massive consequences on brands like JC Penney, Pier 1, and Neiman Marcus.

Other brands took advantage of Prime Day’s online traffic surge. For instance, Target hosted their “Deal Days” during the Prime Day event and saw more than double the sales compared to last year. Best Buy brought back their own “Black Friday” deals at the same time and it was reported that 51% of the top 100 online retailers had sales on Tuesday too. This led to Amazon realizing a 1.5% drop of total share of commerce.

Ultimately, Amazon still dominates by making up 39% of retail eCommerce

US ecommerce sales will reach $794.50 billion this year, up 32.4% year-over-year and will reach an unprecedented 14.4% of all U.S. retail spending this year. -eMarketer 

It’s safe to say, when it comes to a sound retail strategy, sometimes the best advice is to meet the customer where they are. It doesn’t hurt to have a kickass product and a hot deal too.