Amazon is no sleeping giant.
As the Bezos behemoth continues along its unstoppable, disruptive path, brands are increasingly requesting Amazon-tailored services. Agencies have been ramping up their capabilities on the platform and even launching dedicated practices as a response.
Many marketers now view Amazon as a legitimate competitor to Facebook and Google, according to 22squared VP, Director of Media Planning, Brandy Everhart. “What they bring to the table is an expensive data set that you can’t get anywhere else,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of successful campaigns that are focused on driving conversions on the Amazon platform.”
Even brands that don’t sell on Amazon are asking questions due to the power of its search reach and the benefits of its data sets. “Clients want me to increase their engagement in every possible way,” said Matt Bijarchi, Founder and CEO of digital brand studio Blend. “We’ve learned ecommerce is also a brand-building opportunity.”
Some agencies have already embedded themselves within the machine. After WPP performance marketing agency Possible acquired Amazon-only consultancy Marketplace Ignition, the holding group combined its offerings with media network Mindshare to create a service that offers Amazon-specific solutions.
Possible Global SVP, Commerce, Frank Kochenash explained that the agency developed Amazon-related services well before the partnership, offering “everything from strategy to content development to content optimization, paid search management, media management, all on or within the Amazon ecosystem.”
Explaining the Mindshare partnership, Kochenash added that conquering Amazon is a challenge for his clients, as “some are scared and some see the opportunity, but they need an Amazon answer.”
Agencies are scrambling to respond. 360i launched its own Amazon Marketplace offering last month. Many shops are also establishing voice practices that focus on Alexa – the indisputable category leader, earning an estimated 70 to 75 percent of voice experiences.
Specifically, Kochenash said the Alexa algorithm has “a tremendous amount of control” in determining purchasing patterns, something “brands are rightfully concerned about how to address.” He noted brands face two paths to success on Amazon: either create a great product that results in continual reordering, or have a brand that’s already so strong that customers actively seek it out.
Nick Godfrey, COO of digital consultancy Rain, explained that Alexa was so technologically advanced compared to Siri’s first iteration that Amazon had a “head start” over competitors like Google and Apple. Alexa’s established user base also better justifies innovation budgets for clients and agencies.
Voice is “still an emerging platform” with “numbers low across the boards,” Godfrey explained, adding, “If you’re in innovation…the most voices are on Alexa.”
He also noted that Alexa is particularly important because the platform “devalue[s] third-party sellers” even as it plays a direct role in more consumer transactions; businesses can draw value from voice activations in various ways, from direct conversions to data, learning and increased efficiency. Rain’s insurance adviser voice skill for Safeco, for example, increased efficiency by utilizing the skill for more obvious customer questions and freeing up human advisers for customers who needed more hands-on help.
“If you’re a brand in 2017, you better have an Amazon strategy,” said Godfrey. “The dominance of Amazon goes hand in hand with the dominance of Alexa.”
Kochenash believes Amazon’s importance “will continue to grow and can go in a lot of different ways depending on what they prioritize.” He cited the company’s “ability to connect audience and advertising action to purchase intent and purchase behavior” as especially critical.
Godfrey offered an even bolder prediction: “I think they’re going to be the first trillion-dollar company.”