Amazon is now the third-largest digital marketing platform and the largest advertiser on Google. Given its growth rate, it’s not surprising that Amazon’s advertising platform has incredibly tough competition. Despite this sink-or-swim scenario, Brett Curry’s agency OMG Commerce continues to thrive and help clients battle for shoppers’ limited attention.
In this episode, Brett talks about the evolution of Amazon’s advertising platform and the various approaches to your ad strategies. He also talks about which advertising methods are effective today and which ones to be careful with. Brett also details how OMG Commerce approaches clients. Finally, he shares how to create Sponsored Brand Video ads and what to expect from Amazon in the future.
Tune into this episode to learn more about the virtual arena that is Amazon’s advertising platform.
Click here to read transcript
[03:42] So you and I have known each other for a little while now. And I know that you are a pretty clever fella when it comes to advertising on Amazon. And when I say clever fella, you lead a firm that actually does it. So let’s start there. Who are you? And what do you do?
- Yeah, absolutely. So I’m Brett Curry. I am the CEO of OMG Commerce. We’re a digital marketing agency. We work exclusively with e-commerce companies, and we really have two divisions in our agency. We have the Google and YouTube side of the agency and then the Amazon ad side of the agency. And so, both are growing. We made the Inc. 5000 list for the second year this year. I think you guys did too. Right? For more than two years? Yeah. Congrats on that.
But the Amazon side is the fastest growing side, no surprise there. I think we’re up to eight dedicated team members working exclusively on Amazon. We got a team of about 41, 42 total. But yeah, it’s been really exciting.
So I’m just a long time Google guy; I’m a long-time advertising marketing nerd so to speak. It’s interesting that Amazon is now the third largest digital marketing platform, the third largest online marketing platform behind Facebook and then Google. And, you know, Amazon’s a retailer but now they’re a massive player in the online ad space. And so, yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. So we work hard to create creative campaigns, measure those campaigns, communicate clearly with clients, and help our clients accelerate their growth. That’s what we do.
[05:21] So the Amazon ad platform, over the last couple of years, has evolved immensely, has it not?
- It has.
[05:32] So back when I used to run ads personally, mostly they were Sponsored Product ads, and I haven’t personally had a hand in it now because my team does it for me. So tell us how has the platform evolved first of all? What are some of the new ad types that are available?
- Sure. So Sponsored Products are still kind of the staple, the foundation of most good Amazon ad strategies involves Sponsored Products. That’s huge. Sponsored Brands, you know, these are called headline search ads. But those are the banner ads that appear usually on the top of a search results page, category page, if you will, on Amazon. So those have been around a while but they’ve done some refreshes, and rename, and things like that.
There’s a new type called sponsored display, which is interesting. We actually, as an agency, prefer what’s called Amazon DSP, or demand side platform, which is another way of running display ads. But then I know we’re going to talk about that in a little bit.
I really absolutely love what’s called Sponsored Brand Video. Or in the early days, when it was in kind of a closed beta, it was called video and search. And it was a real not-so-clever name, you know, it’s called video and search because it was a video ad that appeared in the search results. So I’m searching for a dog chew toy, I’m searching for a certain supplement whatever, I’m scrolling through on my mobile device, I see all these Sponsored Products, organic listings, and then boom, I see a video ad playing right there in the search results. So it used to be called video and search, now it’s Sponsored Brand Video. And we’re just seeing across the board now we’ve been testing a lot of different ads, testing different bid strategies, all kinds of stuff—that ad unit is one of the best for all of our clients that are running it. So that’s super exciting.
So Amazon continues to enhance their technology where they’re helping you bid, kind of what we see in Google. Amazon’s maybe a year or two behind in some ways or more, but new technologies and then new ad types really make it interesting for us Amazon advertisers.
[07:53] So we’re gonna dive into all three of those in a minute. Before we do that, I want to talk strategy first. So let’s say a client comes to you and they’ve got some widgets that they’ve been selling on Amazon. They are struggling, they’re not getting enough traction, they’re not showing up high enough in the organic search results. They’ve got great reviews though, we’ll call it four-star reviews. So people really like the product, and they’re simply trying to gain more market share. What does that conversation look like? And then what are some of the first things that you’re going to do for them using these various ad types?
- Yeah, great question. So we want to understand what are your ACoS goals, your advertising cost of sales goals with sales directly from ads? And then, what are your TACoS goals or what are your total ad cost of sales? So looking at total sales, total revenue, what percentage of that you want to put back into advertising so that we kind of keep those as targets, as guardrails, as we look to grow?
[08:59] Let me pretend to be your client.
[09:01] I want my ad cost to be as low as I can. But as long as the campaigns are profitable, I want to spend as much as I can spend. Like, doesn’t everybody say that?
- Usually. And so we drill a little bit further and say, “Okay, well, what does profitable mean?” You know, “What does break even mean?” So we can kind of get that range of where we’re comfortable. And we would like to understand, you know, are there certain products that you’re really trying to rank and trying to increase velocity on that maybe don’t fall within those guardrails of your normal ACoS that maybe you want to push a little harder? And maybe you’re advertising on sales going to go up on those products but it’s for a short season. It’s for purpose to try to get those to rank.
So we really try to map that out. And also we want to understand what are your total revenue growth goals. And we want to understand that so we can help influence that because ad revenue and then the ancillary benefits, the halo effect of those ads play a huge part in reaching your total sales goals. So we want to understand all of that, you know, ACoS, TACoS, total sales goals. Yep.
[10:05] Sorry to interrupt you, let me jump into another question that’s coming up as you’re saying this. So you talked about using ad campaigns to rank. And obviously, everybody wants organic ranking because that’s the free sales. But Amazon has become increasingly a pay to play platform. It used to be, you know, you do the big promos, and the big giveaways, and all this stuff to stimulate sales velocity. And maybe you’re gonna do some keyword URLs, which you’re not supposed to do anymore either, right? To say to the algorithm, “Hey my product should rank for Apple slicer or whatever it is?” How effective are any of the various types of ad campaigns in getting a product to rank? And if they’re effective, what do you have to do to spend wildly and have ACoS that’s through the roof? Or how does that fit into the bigger picture?
- Yeah. So as you’re looking at kind of, this is a launch strategy, or a relaunch, or just, you know, kind of a ranking campaign, the best is always going to be Sponsored Products, right? Sponsored products or Sponsored Brand Video, which we’ll get into in a minute. Just because conversion rates are high, ACoS is manageable, they’re efficient, high volume. Most people go to Amazon and they search, right? That’s how they find a product. And so those Sponsored Products show up right there.
One issue we found is as you start looking at, say, display ads, you really want to push growth for particular products so you start running display ads. If you’re not careful, display ads actually can reduce your conversion rate, which can actually hurt your organic rankings in some cases. So still a good idea to run display ads, like it still has its place. But in terms of initially, our initial strategy to get a product to rank is we’re going to run Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, Sponsored Brand Video, and then we’re going to push hard.
And even if you want to launch with some kind of a coupon or discount offer, something to really nudge that along, you probably need to add some ads to back it up anyway, right? If you just create an offer with no ads behind it, it’s probably not going to be enough juice, not gonna be enough traffic. And so, sometimes you’re looking at, you know, I’m gonna double my ACoS goal for a period of time, a couple weeks, or whatever, until I start getting some velocity and I’m gonna narrow that down. But it really depends on how aggressive you want to be with the individual goals for your product and your business. But yes, Sponsored Product, Sponsored Brand, Sponsored Brand Video, that’s where we’re going to invest in first. And go hard for either a period of a couple weeks, month, or potentially more.
[12:43] I heard a rumor Brett that discounted sales don’t count towards sales velocity and BSR. And ultimately, organic ranking. What are your thoughts on that?
- Yeah, it’s interesting. So I don’t know the latest on that, I would need to double-check my Amazon team. But I do know that 100% discounts and, you know, massive discounts that Amazon is not giving the full credit to that. But I think it is a little bit nuanced.
So if you’re doing a 20% discount or kind of a normal coupon discount, I don’t think that has as much of a negative impact or I guess a non-impact. So if you’re doing a 100% discount or 90% discount, it does seem like that does not influence your sales velocity like it once did. Because you haven’t passed, you do 100% discount, 90% discount, whatever, and Amazon is still gonna count that full sales price towards your sales velocity. That’s no longer the case. I don’t know exactly the cut offs anymore. But pretty confident that if you’re doing just a normal 10%, 15%, 20%, 30% discount, you’re still getting most of that value for sales velocity.
[13:53] Okay. So now we’ve spent like drunken sailors for the first month, we’re starting to see BSR heading in the right direction. We’re starting to see an improvement. We’re not on page one yet, I assume, if I’m wrong, but we’re moving in the right direction. But the costs are awfully high. And so me as the client, I’m getting a little uncomfortable because I’m just shoveling money out the door. I’m losing money. But ultimately, the goal is still the same. I’m trying to get my product to rank organically. So what’s next? And what mix of all these ad tools are you going to be using and how are you going to be using them?
- Yep. So I think there is a matter of what is your tolerance for and what is your budget to get this thing to rank. Because you can always go somewhat more the slow and steady approach and just say, “Okay, we’re going to now start dialing it back.” So maybe we’re doubling our ACoS goal and now we’re just going to dial it back to maybe 10%, or 15%, or 20% above our normal ACoS for a period of time. Let’s keep pushing it. We’ll keep pushing methodically, it’s more of a marathon than a sprint.
Or maybe we say, “No. I need to hit my ACoS goals. And so, we’re just gonna scale it back. But still, we’re gonna be focusing on Sponsored Products, some Sponsored Brand, and then Sponsored Brand Video. So it’s just a matter of understanding what is our budget, what’s our threshold, what’s our tolerance for going over our ACoS goal. And that’s gonna help us determine when we start scaling things back.
[15:27] Okay. So now I want to get into the weeds on each of these types. So we’ve been using a lot of terms here, Sponsored Products are the one that’s been around for the longest time, right? So if I’m running Sponsored Product ads, my ads are going to show up at the top of the organic search results. Maybe along the side of the organic search results. Are there any other places where Sponsored Product ads are gonna show up?
- Yeah, Sponsored Product ads. So they look like organic listings, they look identical, they just say sponsored or ad. Amazon’s experimenting with that. It’s usually at the top of the search results on a category page or search results page, sometimes at the bottom, sometimes they’re sprinkled in. They’ll also be on a product detail page, so you can bid on your own product. So you could have maybe you know, for your widget, on your widget product detail page, you’ll have some of your accessories that go with that widget. You’d have ads show up on your own product detail page or on other product detail pages. So those are the main places that Sponsored Products show up. Yeah. And then Sponsored Brands, those are usually the banner ads. It usually features three products that show up on the top of a search results page.
[16:41] Okay, didn’t those used to be called Headline Search or…?
- Headline Search Ads, exactly. Yeah, Headline Search Ads.
[16:50] So those aren’t terribly new either. So then we’ve got a Sponsored Display, DSP, and Sponsored Brand Video. So yeah, Sponsored Display. What’s that?
- Yep. So a Sponsored Display that allows, you know, one of the biggest benefits there and the reason why people have wanted to try it is it does allow you to remarket to your product detail page viewers, right? So remarketing is certainly not a new concept. You have been doing it on Google forever. But it is relatively new for Amazon.
Now Amazon in the past would maybe decide to run a remarketing ad for your product. But now we can do that on our own. And so, a Sponsored Display allows you to remarket to people that use your products.
The main difference between Sponsored Display and Amazon DSP is just the level of control. So the Sponsored Display is kind of a “you turn it on or you turn it off.” You don’t have many controls. You bid a little bit too. But with Amazon DSP, you can be really detailed in the way you’re building audiences. And you can do things like remarketing or loyalty, we’re trying to get people to reorder or cross sell types of things. And you target your competitors with Amazon DSP. But yeah, Sponsored Display would be display ads and primarily people are using those for remarketing purposes, but could also be used for top of all.
[18:14] Where are the Sponsored Display ads going to appear?
- Typically on Amazon, so those are showing up kind of along the rails on a category page, that can appear on a product detail page as well. But that’s primarily where Sponsored Display ads show up.
[18:30] Not necessarily in search results?
- Not in the search results. It’ll be surrounding search results or kind of lower on a product detail page. You can tell because they don’t look like a normal listing, right? It looks like a banner ad or a display ad you’d see on a new site or something like that.
[18:48] Okay. So now DSP has lots of control, it can do anything you want. Let’s unpack DSP and why you are such a big fan.
- Yeah. So what’s awesome about Amazon DSP, it’s really the combination of two things. It’s all the rich shopper data that Amazon has. And they’ve got all kinds of behavioral shopper data on all of us, right? We all shop on Amazon. I was talking to my wife the other day just out of curiosity and said, “Hey, how often do we have Amazon packages coming to the house?” And she’s like, “Yeah, it’s most days. It’s almost every day.” Right? So Amazon knows what we’re looking for, what we bought in the past, what we’re shopping for at the moment, like they know all of that. So it’s a combination of Amazon shopper data and then open ad networks.
So with Amazon DSP, you can advertise on Amazon.com. So your ads can appear just like we talked about with sponsored display. They can show up alongside search results, or at the bottom of a product detail page, or whatever. So you can do that. But you can also then appear across the web and there’s even a backdoor that is one of the ad networks you can target is called AdX, which is the back door entrance to the Google Display network.
So basically, you can run display ads on the Google Display Network but with your Amazon shopper data. And so, this is a way you can reach people across the web. And you can either retarget to people that have been in your product detail pages and haven’t purchased, where you can run, you know, I talked about before, but loyalty campaigns where, “Hey, this is a consumable and someone hasn’t bought in a while.” So maybe they bought in the last 30 days, but nonetheless, 60, so I’m going to run an ad to remind them to come back and purchase. Or maybe they bought the widget but didn’t buy the accessories. So I’m going to run an ad to them to promote the accessory. So things like that, that are unique to Amazon DSP.
And you can do things like, you know, I’m going to target this audience but exclude that audience. I’ll target the 60-day buyer audience but exclude the 30-day buyer audience to kind of find people in that 30- to 60-day window. So there’s all kinds of flexibility. Do you have a question there Trent?
[20:56] Yeah, is ACoS one of the things that you’re going to be using to measure your ads effectiveness with DSP?
- So for sure you’re measuring for effectiveness for whatever reason. Amazon DSP measures in ROAS or return on ad spend, which is really just the inverse of ACoS, right? So ROAS is conversion value divided by cost, where ACoS is cost divided by conversion value, so that’s really the inverse. But yeah, everything is measured. And we can do the conversion for anybody that wants to see it.
[21:27] So if I’ve got an ACoS of say, 30%, what’s my ROAS?
- So your ROAS would need to be, it would be like 320, something like that. So if it was 33% ACoS, that’d be like a 300% ROAS, right? Okay. So it sits right in there.
[21:43] As a rule of thumb, if one even exists, how does traditional, we’ll call it ACoS of Sponsored Products, compare to, I know it’s ROAS but if you convert it ACoS for DSP, are they about the same? Or is DSP a lot lower?
- Yeah, it’s a great question. And so what we found is that they’re close, they’re very close, usually within five or 10 points of each other. And so, yeah, whatever you’re getting from Sponsored Brands… From Sponsored Products, rather, so Sponsored Product ACoS would be similar to your retargeting ACoS, or rather ROAS, on Amazon DSP.
There are a couple things we’ve noticed with DSP, like if you look at the conversion, like the main reports, that’s great. They also run what’s called like a halo report, which sounded amazing when I first heard about it. I said, “Oh, this is great.” Like this is gonna show maybe people that saw an ad but didn’t click and then they bought.” But those reports are kind of wacky. It’s like they want to take credit for every sale you’ve ever made on the halo report. So I recommend taking that with a grain of salt, but look at the direct conversions from Amazon DSP, and should be pretty comparable to Sponsored Products.
[22:59] So with DSP, there’s a lot of different things that you can do. Do you have some favorite things that you like to do and are kind of part of your playbook every single time?
- Yeah, absolutely. So we always start with retargeting. So just about any business needs to run some form of retargeting or remarketing. Not every client will want to run loyalty campaigns if it’s a one-time purchase or there’s not many ancillary related products. Or maybe they don’t have loyalty campaigns. But then from there if we’re looking at, we’re looking at growth, and if it makes sense for the client, you can actually target your competitors’ shoppers. And this was one of those things where as a longtime ad guy, longtime Google guy, kind of blew my mind.
But basically you can use DSP and you can give Amazon a list of ASINs, right? And then they’ll build an audience of either people that have viewed those ASINs and have not purchased or people that have viewed those ASINs and purchased. You can kind of build these unique audiences as well. What we found that works really well is if it’s a category where people are shopping around a bit, you know, you can target people that have visited your competitors’ products and have not purchased. And we call it competitive conquesting, or I think Amazon’s got a less aggressive term for that. I’m drawing a blank on.
But competitive conquesting like we’re going out and we’re trying to find, “Hey, what’s a related product?” So maybe it’s a product that’s similar to mine, some were reviews, some were price point. So it’s going to be a similar shopper. So someone who viewed that in the last seven days, last 14 days, but have not purchased, I’m gonna run an ad to them. And that’s been very interesting. So we found recency matters there.
So if you target, “Hey, anybody that’s shopped on the competitors’ product in the last 30 days,” the results are okay.” We start narrowing it down to someone’s been on my competitors [page] probably the last seven days and they haven’t purchased, now we’re talking. Now we’re seeing some results. So that’s like usually the next strategy we deploy after retargeting in loyalty.
And just kind of a quick point, usually the ads we’re running we want to make those ads look kind of like our Amazon listings. So Amazon’s got kind of an ad builder that you can use and it pulls in your listing, it pulls in the Amazon logo and reviews, and things like that. We found it usually works better there. There’s some cases where we experiment. But you know, Amazon shoppers are Amazon shoppers, right? So if they see your ad, and it’s clear, it’s an Amazon listing, that usually helps click-throughs and conversions.
[25:31] So there used to be or maybe there still is an ad type that I think was called a product placement ad where it was right below the buy box. And you could look or target a competitor’s ASIN, and I’ve just pulled up some random product that I looked at yesterday, a pair of headphones, and I don’t see any product placement ad below the Add to Cart button. Did those ads go away? Are they part of DSP? Are they still a Sponsored Product ad?
- To my understanding, and I’ve been living the last three or four months squarely in the Sponsored Brand Video and DSP stage, I believe that those are still a form of Sponsored Products. And I thought they were still around. But maybe that’s been reduced. I’m not actually sure.
[26:14] Okay. So when you just talked a few minutes ago about targeting people who have looked at your competitors’ products or are looking maybe at your competitors’ products, where is that ad actually going to show up?
- So it could show up a number of places. A lot of them show up off Amazon. So now I was actually just shopping for one of those like a Theragun type thing, they’re fantastic by the way, I couldn’t recommend highly enough shopping for it. And then I started being served those ads as I went to espn.com or whatever. And so, a lot of those ads are gonna appear off Amazon. You can also appear on kind of the Amazon owned and operated sites is what they’re called. But that would be amazon.com, Amazon mobile app. And then also IMDB, Amazon owns IMDB. So your ads could appear there as well.
So yeah, it’s less about, in that case if you’re doing competitive conquests, and you’re running a display ad, and if it does appear on amazon.com, it’s going to be less important what the category pages and stuff. It’s more about you targeting that user because they shopped for that product recently.
[27:27] Seems to me like that would also be a very effective lever to pull in a product launch as well. You’ve got this new thing and they’ve looked at your competitors’ things.
- Yep, yep. Exactly, exactly. Or maybe someone has purchased something that would indicate their really strong prospect for you. So one of the things we, as we were actually one of the fastest growing Amazon DSP agencies a couple years ago, and we got invited out to Amazon HQ and got to hang out with people. And anyway, they kept telling us a story of actually a movie studios using Amazon DSP. So you think about it, it kind of makes sense. Say we’re launching the new Marvel movie, we’ve got all our normal advertising opportunities. But what if we just target people that have bought anything Marvel related, right? Would that be a great audience to target?
So we’re launching this new movie, so now let’s target this bottom, Marvel lunchbox, or Marvel notebook, or whatever. Like you can also look at people who have purchased these products, they would really indicate their prime target for what I sell. So you can do things like that as well.’
And what’s really interesting is those audiences are updated in close to real time. So if I was shopping for your competitor’s product, and so I’m on this list, and now we’re targeting it. If I go ahead and buy then I’m removed from that list. So you’re not getting a lot of wasted impressions, or at least not for long.
[28:50] When you and I talked about DSP, gosh, maybe a year ago, it wasn’t available to everyone. And there were some pretty steep minimums in terms of ad spend. Has that changed?
- Yeah, it hasn’t. Although it seems like when I hear people talking to Amazon reps, there may be a little bit of fudge room. So historically, Amazon’s looked for like $15,000 a month commitment at least over two months. Like 15 to 30k. But occasionally we’ll talk to a rep, there’ll be like…
[29:21] Per brand? Or in the case of when it’s an agency like you across any number of clients?
- Yeah. So agencies are a little different. We actually had higher targets, but we were able to meet those really quickly. And so now we’ve met all the minimums and now we can bring on a new client. There’s no minimums for new clients. What we kind of heard is if you talk to Amazon directly and you commit to something, and then like it totally flops, you may be able to get out of it. I can’t confirm or deny.
But anyway, Amazon is looking for pretty steep minimums. I think that will eventually slow down, go away. I think it’s going to be looking a lot more like Google where Google’s like, “Hey, here’s our platform. Go advertise whatever budget makes sense for you.” But right now, yeah, your options are either you work with Amazon managed services, which they do, they definitely do have minimums and then they have a little bit of markup. Or you can work with an agency or you get direct access to the platform, but there’s still minimums. They still want you to commit to minimum spends if you get direct access to the platform. And the platform is a little wonky. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not, you know, I’m a longtime Google guy so I love the Google Ads interface, it is just amazing. And Amazon is great, but it’s a little bit behind.
[30:34] And then Sponsored Brand Video, which you talked about a lot at the beginning of our conversation. So you’re a pretty big fan. Why? Tell me why you like it so much. And then let’s dive into some of the mechanics of exit making.
- Sure. I think just from a shopping perspective and probably a lot of people that are listening have experienced one of these ads in the wild, maybe not yet. If you haven’t, once you see it, it immediately grabs your attention. Because if you’re scrolling through the search results on Amazon and you’re seeing all these static images, some are compelling images, some are not. And then all of a sudden, you see this video autoplaying. It’s kind of a scroll stopper, right? Whether you’re on mobile or whether you’re on desktop, it’s going to grab your attention. Just the movement and the fact that it’s video versus a static image, it captures attention. It used to only be on mobile. In fact, it was only on the Amazon iOS app, then it was released to Android and now it’s available everywhere. It’s on desktop as well. So it really captures attention.
[31:40] Sorry to interrupt you, I’m going through some results for Theragun because my wife is a big fan of Theragun too. And I don’t know, 20% down the page, there’s a section where there’s, it’s not a video, it’s a moving collection of still images where there’s a volume button that I presumably could turn it off. Is that an example?
- That is an example. Exactly. So it’s a video ad unit, some people, you know, creating a video ad is harder than just images, right? So some people are just taking still images and animating them. Or even using a tool like Animoto or something, which is a pretty affordable online tool where you can upload a soundtrack, and text, and images, and kind of spin it all together. But yeah, that’s it. That is exactly it. That’s a Sponsored Brand Video.
And what’s crazy about these ads is we’re seeing the click-through rate, so the percentage of people that see the ad that click-through is, you know, 10, see I actually wrote this down, yeah, 10 to 40%. Sorry, I’m looking at the wrong stat. 3 to 10x for Sponsored Products. So the click-through rate is three to 10 x higher. Crazy.
Because of that, the CPCs are actually a little bit lower, right? Because Amazon’s making a lot of money on these ad units, because so many people are clicking on them. That CPC, so the cost per click is 10 to 40% lower for these ad units. So you’re getting a higher click-through rate, lower CPC. And then in almost all cases, these are the best performing ads in terms of a cost and return. We’re seeing, you know, you probably do a number of searches right now and not see Sponsored Brand Video ads. One, because not a lot of advertisers are using it. And two, Amazon is not showing them but it was on showing them more and more and more people are kind of getting on board.
But we’re now seeing you know, when we were first launching these campaigns for clients, it was maybe 5% of their total ad spend or something they could spend on Sponsored Brand Video. Now it’s 10 to 20% and growing. We’ve got some clients who are really pushing hard on this. And it’s usually incremental spend and then therefore incremental sales, which is also great. Yeah, this is really performing well.
[34:00] What are some of the best practices for using this type of ad? Obviously, you’ve got to have good videos, you got to have good content, but maybe there’s some other best practices as well? And let’s not skip past what good content is because I’m sure you’ve run lots of experiments there.
- Yeah, yeah. So let’s talk about what makes for a great video ad and you don’t have to go super high production value, right? I’ve been a video guy for a long time and used to do TV so I love a good video. But ultimately, I want video that works right so it doesn’t have to be super high production value.
Think about the mindset of the shopper and what they’re doing when they see this ad. They’re evaluating this. This is comparison shopping. So they’re deep into looking at features, and functionality, and things like that. And they’re asking, “Hey, will this product meet my needs?” And so, don’t think so much like a TV commercial. This is less like a TV commercial and more like a product demonstration. More like, in some cases even, maybe what you’d run on Instagram or something like that. Where, as I scroll through it, I want to see that product in action, right? I want to see it doing its thing. Or if it’s a pet product, I want to see a pet chewing on it, and playing with it, and stuff like that. I want to see the product in action.
We’re still seeing most of the exposure on mobile. So even though these do appear on desktop, you want to optimize for mobile. And so, what I mean by that is you want tight shots. Don’t put the product away off in the distance or small images. Or what I’ve seen a lot of people do, you know, we’ll get some video assets from a client and it’ll have superimposed text on it. But the font is really small, right? Like that’s impossible to read on mobile. So optimize for mobile because then even when it runs on desktop, it’s going to do better.
Also, you want to be able to tell the story without sound, right? So you talked about this ad and the Theragun results that showed up with no sound, that’s how they all play. So they all play without sound. Depending on where someone is shopping, they may or may not have access to sound or they may just want to turn it on. So optimize the video where someone could clearly see feature benefit, here’s what it does, here are some main bullet points to think you know, where the bullet points are in my listing and I really need to highlight. Let’s pull those in as text on the video. So do that.
And then you just want to be instantly obvious. Although, quick caveat, I do think even a mediocre video right now works because it’s so novelty, right? There’s still not many who are doing it. So remember I was shopping for a movie projector. We wanted to do outdoor movies this summer, which has been a ton of fun. And I was shopping on Amazon and I saw this video as “Oh, cool. I’ll click on that.” But that was because I’m an advertiser, I just waited and watched the video. It was a dumb video. Like it didn’t tell me anything about it. It just had animated parts flying around. But I didn’t learn much or gain much from the video, but I still clicked on it. But if you can actually show, “Hey, it’s got this resolution. It’s got this feature and that’s shockproof. So if you drop it…” You know, whatever.” Really make those things instantly obvious.
[37:04] What’s the maximum amount of length you can have for the video?
- Yeah, usually 15 to 30 seconds is about all you need, right? You want to get a product demo because people aren’t sitting there and watching for a long period of time. We do, as an agency, we do a lot of YouTube advertising and actually spend more of my time on YouTube personally than anything else. And we’re always running 3-minute, 5-minute, 7-minute videos there, just kind of depending. But yeah, 15 to 30 seconds is about all you need. There is a limit. You don’t want to go longer, you don’t really need to go longer than 60 seconds. I don’t remember exactly what the cutoff is now, but yeah, 15 to 30 is great.
[37:41] Just had a thought. So I want to ask you what afterwards, unrelated to what we’re talking about. So right below the video that I’m looking at, there’s the editorial recommendations. Is that some kind of ad as well? Or is that a different program?
- That’s a different program. Yep. That’s a different program. And I actually don’t know the details of how to get in on that. But yeah, that’s actually something we help with. I just can’t speak to it very intelligently. But yeah, that’s more editorial content. So you’re writing content, you’re partnering with someone on an Amazon type of thing. Not an ad unit but very powerful. And for certain, for what appears like to me is, kind of high consideration, whether it’s a Theragun, or a projector, or something a little pricier where someone’s more inclined to do research. It’s not a spatula, it’s not a pizza cutter. Then that editorial shows up more and it’s pretty compelling.
[38:36] Okay. And last thing before we wrap up in my notes from our pre-interview, I wrote Google search to Amazon listings. And I don’t remember what I meant by that.
- Yeah, so this is essentially, we… You know, a lot of people don’t know this or don’t think about it. But still the number one, Amazon’s number one traffic source is still Google, right? Amazon gets most of their traffic from Google, either from Google organic. Or they are, and this is a shocker to most people, they’re the largest advertiser on Google. Amazon spends more money than anyone else advertising on Google ads. And so occasionally, you may find that Amazon will advertise for your product on Google. But usually they don’t, right?
Typically they’re doing that with their 1P business, you know, Vendor Central and such. And so what we’ve started testing for clients is, let’s run Google ads but direct people to their Amazon listings. And so, the way we typically treat that is we have a lot of clients who are trying to grow their own .com and trying to grow Amazon sales. Typically, if someone is just searching for the brand or doing some kind of category related search on Google, we’ll try to send that person to the.com, right? Because if we don’t know if they’re an Amazon shopper or a non-Amazon shopper, we’re gonna default to trying to send them to our own .com because then we control the relationship. And you know, we don’t have to pay like a commission…
Exactly, exactly. But if someone’s searching for our category or our product specifically, and then adding Amazon to the end of that, well then maybe I do want to run an ad and point people to my Amazon listing. And the reason you might do that, and because a lot of us, our products don’t rank organically on Google, or Amazon price don’t rank on Google, or maybe a competitor does, so now you can start saying, “Hey, here are my top keywords on Amazon. I’m going to target those on Google.” So if someone’s typing in that keyword plus Amazon, so now they’ve identified themselves as an Amazon shopper. But they’re starting on Google, which always surprises me like, right? People just treat Google like it’s the entry point to anywhere online, right? So someone goes to Google, even though their end result is Amazon, those people will target with a Google ad and send them to our Amazon listing.
Now, that used to be pretty hard to connect the dots on, right? You just kind of have to like, and we knew a lot of other people in the supplement space and other categories where they’d run Google to Amazon and just be like, “Well we’re seeing lift over time and it’s gotta be worth it. When we can see what our CPCs are, they’re low and so we’re happy.” But now you can track it with what’s called Amazon Attribution. So basically, it’s using tracking URLs. And so, you can track that a little bit better using Amazon Attribution. And that’s improving all the time. If you want to talk details, you talk to somebody on our team, Chris Tyler, our director, someone else. But yeah, now you can track that a little bit better. So it’s just another additional way to drive traffic.
And what’s beautiful about that is Amazon sees that as external traffic, right? That’s external traffic coming from outside Amazon to your listing. And usually, it converts pretty well. So I kind of alluded to in the beginning, if you were to start dumping a bunch of display traffic or running a bunch of display traffic to your listing, that can actually hurt your conversion rate and maybe negatively impact your rankings. There’s still a way to do it that’s safe. If you start running Google ads to Amazon, it usually converts pretty well. And it’s external traffic so it could actually help with rankings as well. So that Google to Amazon could be a product ranking strategy, it could also be an ongoing just growth strategy as well.
[42:15] So on the surface of it, I see the disadvantage of not being able to pixel the traffic that I just paid Google to send me. You were saying with DSP, there is a method to retarget. So is there a way of combining those two strategies where I can spend money to acquire traffic on Google and yet I can retarget them using DSP?
- Absolutely. And so that’s kind of what we look at when we talk about full funnel strategy. So what are we doing to attract people that are maybe in the very early stages of shopping, the awareness stage, and the consideration stage, and all kinds of pre-purchase stages, what do we do to get them to our listing? And then if they don’t buy immediately, we’ve got retargeting that we will set up, and we’ll run, and run that pretty aggressively to try to close that deal. So yeah, absolutely. You can send someone there to your listing from Google and then retarget them with your Amazon DSP, which is really a great idea.
[43:07] Now if only Amazon would allow me to add my autoresponder opt in code to my product page.
- I know. I know, man, we want to control that client relationship. And that’s really kind of alluded to, but that’s kind of my default is like, “Hey, if we can get a sale on our own .com—better, because we got our own relationship.” But if someone’s searching for Amazon that kind of identifies themselves as, “I’m an Amazon shopper, that’s where I want to buy.” Well, okay, don’t want to find an uphill battle, we’ll send you to Amazon. And who knows what’s gonna happen in the future? Maybe we’ll have a little more… No, I doubt it.
[43:42] They’re not gonna ever allow that.
- No, they’re gonna keep that locked down, for sure.
[43:46] Yeah, for sure. Well, Brett, it’s been wonderful to have you come on, and bring me, and hopefully the audience up to speed on the latest of what’s going on with the Amazon advertising platform for folks who are listening. Maybe some of them are thinking, you know, “Hey, that sounds good. I don’t have the bandwidth or the resources to do that. Or maybe I don’t have the interest in doing it.” So to get a hold of you, or your team, what’s the easiest way for them to do that?
- Yep, awesome. The best way is to go to omgcommerce.com And there’s the “let’s talk,” or /contact, schedule a quick call of one of our Amazon peeps, and kind of get a free strategy session scheduled there.
We also have some resources that may be useful for people. So we put together a Sponsored Brand Video success guide, and it’s got examples, some good examples, some not so good examples of sponsor brand video. It kind of lays out several tips, and suggestions, and has all the details there. So that’s a free guide. And then we also have an Amazon DSP roadmap, so kind of a how to get started with Amazon DSP or at least how to prepare yourself for DSP even if you use an agency. And that’s a free download at omgcommerce.com as well both under the guides page. So check those out as well.
Brett Curry’s Bright Ideas
- Stand by Effective Advertisements
- Know Your Goals
- Utilize the Amazon DSP
- Focus on Remarketing & Loyalty
- Invest in Sponsored Brand Videos
Stand by Effective Advertisements
In this episode, Brett talks about the various types of ads available in Amazon’s advertising platform and how you can utilize each of them to your advantage, depending on your specific goals.
Many believe newer means better. But the truth is that sometimes the most staple advertising strategies yield the best results.
As Brett points out, “The foundation of most good Amazon ad strategies involves Sponsored Products.”
Aside from Sponsored Products, he also mentions the effectiveness of Sponsored Brands, formerly known as headline search ads. These are the banner ads that usually appear on the top of a search results page.
Brett cautions users from using display ads. He says, “If you’re not careful, display ads actually can reduce your conversion rate, which can actually hurt your organic rankings in some cases.”
When it comes to Amazon advertising, remember: old is gold.
Know Your Goals
Before you even think about your advertising strategy, reflect on your goals, as well as how much you’re willing to spend.
He says, “It’s just a matter of understanding what’s our budget, what’s our threshold, what’s our tolerance for going over ACoS goal, and that’s gonna help us determine when we start scaling things back.”
Brett emphasizes that there is no one way to go about your advertising strategy. Be adaptable and flexible. A company may take either
- a slow and steady approach or
- an aggressive initial advertising (and then scaling back in the future) approach
Remember that advertising is a long-term game. You will want consistent, incremental results. It is a marathon, not a sprint.
Utilize the Amazon DSP
Amazon DSP is a demand-side platform enabling advertisers to programmatically and systematically advertise in different mediums. It makes re-engagement possible for sellers, expanding their reach.
Brett says Amazon DSP is vital because it has all the critical behavioral shopper data from Amazon that sellers want.
However, the minimum cost for Amazon DSP is quite steep at the moment. Fortunately, “it will eventually slow down and go away,” Brett says. “I think it’s going to be looking a lot more like Google where Google’s like, ‘Hey, here’s our platform. Go advertise whatever budget makes sense for you.’”
Focus on Remarketing & Loyalty
Too often, advertisers focus on getting first-time customers’ attention and then converting that into sales. However, a sale is a sale, whether it comes from new customers or repeat purchases.
Brett says, “Just about any business needs to run some form of retargeting or remarketing.”
Businesses need to look at things from a growth perspective. Even if loyalty campaigns are not your preference, other methods such as competitive conquesting can boost traffic and sales.
Competitive conquesting through Amazon DSP is all about finding shoppers that looked at a competitor’s product but did not make a purchase. “If it makes sense for the client, you can actually target your competitors’ shoppers, and this was one of those things where, you know, as a longtime ad guy, longtime Google guy, kind of blew my mind,” Brett says.
Recency matters in competitive conquesting: the more recently a shopper has taken a look at a product, the more likely they are to convert. It’s all about narrowing down your targets and waiting for the results.
Invest in Sponsored Brand Videos
There is more and more competition in the advertising space. It’s not enough to merely have pretty images; videos have changed the game.
Shoppers’ attention span is limited, so stopping them from scrolling is a considerable feat. What’s a better scroll-stopper than a video?
Brett says, “Once you see [a video], it immediately grabs your attention. Because if you’re scrolling through the search results on Amazon, and you’re seeing all these static images, you know, some are compelling images, some are not. And then all of a sudden, you see this video auto-playing, it’s kind of a scroll-stopper, right?”
As more competitors sprout, it’s even more important to make the most out of a few seconds of video.`
Brett enumerates certain traits of a compelling brand video:
- Demonstrates the use of the product
- Optimized for mobile rather than desktop
- Conveys the features and benefits, even without sound
- Short but sweet
Not only are videos scroll-stopping, but they also produce concrete results. Videos have three to ten times higher click-through rate than sponsored product ads and have a 10 to 40% lower cost per click. They’re cheaper while bringing in more traffic, hitting two birds with one video.
What Did We Learn from This Episode?
- Use proven strategies on Amazon’s advertising platforms.
- Figure out your advertising cost and goals.
- New methods of advertising aren’t always the most effective.
- Make sure that you retarget and remarket.
- Explore video advertisements and learn the best practices in using them.
[03:59] — Brett introduces OMG Commerce
- OMG Commerce is a digital marketing agency working exclusively with e-commerce companies. It has ranked twice on the Inc. 5000.
- Their agency has two divisions: Google/YouTube and Amazon.
- The Amazon advertising platform is rapidly growing in terms of digital advertising.
[05:53] — The evolution of Amazon’s advertising platform
- Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands are still a staple and the foundation of most Amazon advertising strategies.
- Sponsored Display ads and Sponsored Brand Videos are a few examples of new ways to advertise on Amazon.
[08:33] — The first aid for clients struggling in Amazon advertising
- Figure out your advertising cost of sales goals and your total ad cost of sales.
- Find out which products you are willing to spend more on to advertise.
[10:58] — How ad campaigns help your product rank higher
- Search bar-sponsored products are the most efficient initial ad campaigns.
- Conversion rates are high, and the cost is manageable for Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brand Videos.
- Display ads can reduce the conversion rate and hurt organic rankings.
- Discounted sales count in your sales velocity only if they’re at a normal range and not reaching 90 to 100% discount.
[14:35] — Ranking a product organically
- It all depends on a client’s ad cost goals.
- Know your budget and your tolerance.
- You can take a slow and steady approach to ad spending.
- You can also take an aggressive initial approach and then narrow it down once you gain velocity.
[17:00] — The benefits of Sponsored Display ads and Amazon DSP
- People have wanted to try Amazon DSP because it allows sellers to remarket to their product detail page viewers.
- You have more control and flexibility with Amazon DSP than with Sponsored Displays because of its rich behavioral data.
- You can also target the Google Display Network and reach people across the web.
- To measure the effectiveness of your Amazon DSP, compute the ROAS or return on ad spend (conversion value divided by cost).
[23:10] — How to sell on Amazon & the value of retargeting
- Any business needs to focus on retargeting, be it through remarketing, loyalty campaigns, or competitive conquesting.
- Target people who viewed your competitors’ products but did not buy.
- If Amazon shoppers see your ad and it’s clear it’s an Amazon listing, that boosts your click-throughs and conversions.
[26:28] — How competitive conquesting works
- Once a shopper looks at a competitor’s product but does not purchase it, you may target that shopper throughout Amazon’s advertising platforms.
- These platforms range from the Amazon app itself, the Amazon website, and even Amazon-owned sites such as IMDb.
[30:48] — Sponsored Brand Videos, CPC & PPC advertising
- Videos capture a shopper’s attention immediately.
- Sponsored Brand Videos are better scroll-stoppers compared to static ad images.
- Some people animate their images to make them into videos.
- The click-through rate of videos is three to ten times higher than that of sponsored ads.
- The cost per click is also 10 to 40% lower.
[34:16] — What makes a video ad great?
- Making great videos doesn’t need high production value.
- Get into the mindset of the shopper.
- Think of it less like a TV commercial and more like a product demonstration.
- Optimize for mobile applications, and keep it 15 to 30 seconds long.
- Make sure to highlight the features and benefits even without sound.
[38:48] — How search engines are connected to an Amazon listing
- Amazon is the largest advertiser on Google; therefore, Amazon’s number one traffic source is Google.
- The traffic comes either organically or through Google advertising.
- If someone searches for the brand, they are redirected to the company website. But if someone searches for a category, they are redirected to the Amazon listing.
- Amazon attribution can track URLs. The platform sees it as external traffic and converts well.
Brett Curry is the CEO of OMG Commerce, a digital marketing agency and Google Premier Partner. Brett is the host of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast highlighting what’s new and what’s next in eCommerce. He and his team manage Google, Amazon, and YouTube ad campaigns for growing eCommerce brands. His insights into Google and Amazon Advertising have been featured on on top industry stages as well as top industry publications.