Amazon Advertising – $1 Trillion Valuation Is Just the Beginning

On September 4, 2018, Amazon became the second publicly traded company in the United States to reach a $1 trillion valuation. Just before noon, Amazon shares reached $2,050.49, before falling slightly to $2,037, ending the day just shy of the 13-figure number. Hitting this milestone in a short month after Apple became the first company to hit this valuation leaves many to speculate which of these 2 players will reach the $2 trillion number first.

Apple, which hit the $1 trillion revenue mark on August 2, 2018, brought in $48 billion in profits last year. Amazon, on the other hand, only saw one tenth of that profit number. But, interestingly, The New York Times reported that in a Facebook poll run by a group of young Wall Street Investors, which posed the question of which company would reach $2 trillion first, the vote overwhelmingly favored Amazon. With lower revenue numbers, what makes people so confident that a company making less money will have a more profitable future?
With a very diversified plan for the future, there are a few different aspects of Amazon’s strategy that give people confidence in the company – for example its breakout into health and pharmaceuticals, AI advancements and physical stores. But the one offering that most feel will propel Amazon into their successful future is advertising. Back in January, we wrote about how Amazon took 4th place for display ad buying in 2017 and is keeping its eyes on 3rd place. This growth has not slowed down with their ad business recently surpassing $2 billion in quarterly sales. This number might seem small when compared to digital ad giants, Google – who brought in $35 billion in digital ad dollars in 2017 – and Facebook – $17.37 billion. However, Amazon has not come anywhere close to capping the advertising capabilities on their different platforms.

Before making any major additions to its advertising, Amazon just announced that they are rebranding themselves. To avoid any confusion. Amazon Advertising will now encompass Amazon Media Group, Amazon Marketing Services and Amazon Ad Platform.

  • Amazon Media Group: This group handled customized ads that required special collaboration from Amazon.
  • Amazon Marketing Services: This is where brands and agencies could participate in ad auctions and buy display, search and video ads
  • Amazon Ad Platform: This is where advertisers were able to target ads outside of Amazon

As Amazon Advertising now encompasses all of these areas, Amazon Marketing Services will be referred to ad “advertising console” and Amazon Ad Platform will now be known as Amazon DSP. Senior VP of Amazon Advertising stated, “This is another step towards our goal of providing advertising solutions that are simple and intuitive for the hundreds of thousands of advertisers who use our products.” This simple brand change will enable the company to push further into digital advertising.

Most of Amazon’s current advertising dollars come from product search results and sellers sponsor product slots. They are at a huge advantage as they collect data from consumers actual shopping habits, rather than just interests and searches. When ads are placed on Amazon, advertisers have a great opportunity to reach consumers at the critical moment when they are about to make a purchase.

Beyond this, Amazon has great opportunities to build advertising products on top of its existing properties, giving them a larger market share of the $88 billion digital ad industry. There is talk that they will soon sell ad space on their Thursday night football stream Twitch, a live streaming video platform. Twitch users could soon see ads if they opted out of the $9/month premium subscription. And, Amazon has yet to run ads on Amazon Prime Video. These are a few of the tactics that Amazon might introduce to reach $22 billion in digital ad revenue by 2020, making them the third largest digital advertiser.

Now is a great opportunity to take advantage of Amazon’s Advertising and DSP platform. If you want to learn more about Amazon’s capabilities and how it can add value to your media plan, or ask questions about Amazon’s Advertising capabilities, Digilant can help. Reach out to us here.

Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) Uses Attribution to Win Over Programmatic Media Buyers

Amazon’s theme of go big or go home remains consistent when it comes to it’s most recent moves in the programmatic advertising space.  Their DSP is already the 3rd most popular for media buyers and is seeing a 50% growth in adoption.  The popularity of Amazon’s DSP isn’t because of the platform itself and they are certainly not winning any awards for service, according to media buyers, but it’s because of the data that lives inside the platform.  According to Digiday, Amazon is running a series of attribution tests with at least two agencies, with the goal to prove its long-running pitch to marketers that Amazon offers, unlike Facebook and Google, what it calls a “total wallet perspective.”

Amazon DSP

Amazon is promising its programmatic ad buyers that if you buy ads on their DSP platform, you’ll know that they work and they will show you data to prove it. Because marketers not only want to be able to place ads in the right place and at the right time, but they also want the right relevance.  Amazon has a gigantic pool of real-time data, not just likes and habits, but actual purchases – what people are buying and how they are doing it -, you will know what ads work in actually driving people to make purchases — and then be best positioned to target those ads.

What programmatic buyers really want from Amazon and other DSPs is data they can’t get anywhere else.  This need has caused a shift in media buyer’s attention from a one DSP relationship strategy to having multiple contracts to satisfy their inventory and data challenges. So while buying remains fragmented, according to Forrester’s report titled “Marketers Must Demand More from Their Ad-tech”, marketers are searching for their single source of truth.
The word on the street is that Amazon is launching a new attribution tool designed to demonstrate the value in its’ advertising platform to skeptical media buyers and show how their advertising stacks up against other advertising platforms like Facebook and Google.

Why is Attribution Important for Amazon?

Media buyers use attribution models to track the behavior of users across platforms and devices. Individual purchase paths across the customer journey can be observed and used to continuously improve the programmatic media buying algorithm. Using an attribution model marketers can collect more customer data and then they can show relevant ads in ever better places at ever better times. When attribution models are used to inform programmatic algorithms, marketers gain a more realistic view of ad effectiveness.  If you’re not measuring the impact of your marketing efforts—especially in today’s world of fragmented devices and touch points—you are likely missing out on ROI opportunities and wasting spend on channels, strategies and audiences that aren’t performing well. Plus, getting attribution right helps you maximize your learnings to make better business decisions over time.

Amazon Attracts Media Buyers With Their Unique Data

Showing insights into where leads are coming from and which ad campaigns are resonating with advertisers is half the battle, but Amazon also has to find a way to relay that information in a clear, actionable way, or media buyers won’t know how to make use of the raw data. Brands now, more than ever before, want to be able to understand which advertising methods and platforms are gaining results, and also how to use that attribution to shift and improve their strategies moving forward.  As budgets get tighter and more marketers become sophisticated with programmatic buying platforms, the need to understand what ads and buying methods are performing is increasing – and it has to be scientific.  CMOs want to know how many people clicked on ads, where the ad was placed and if it lead to a purchase. The one thing marketers hate is spending media budget to buy ads and then having to prove that they are really converting.

All this is meant to upset the Facebook-Google Duopoly.  Amazon is not only increasing their brand recognition with media buyers with tools that they need to make their jobs easier, but they are also heavily investing in programmatic talent, as one of their biggest complaints from marketers has been lack of support.  The media buying business is still heavily centered around people, and managed service isn’t going away anytime soon according to Joanna O’Connell in her recent Forrester’s report on omnichannel marketing.

Digilant is partnered with Amazon’s Advertising Platform (AAP).  If you want to learn more about Amazon as a DSP and how you can get started go here.  Otherwise you can contact us now to get started: info@digilant.com.

Digital Advertising Lookback for 2017

What Happened in 2017?

Although your newsfeeds and inboxes have likely been inundated over the past few weeks with content and messages reflecting on the events from this past year, the digital marketing world really never pauses or slow downs. Since last January, global digital ad spend has increased 15%, surpassing TV ad spend for the first time ever. According to Statista, 2017 marked the first year in which mobile traffic composed more than half of all web traffic. It’s clear that the way that people consume content, interact with brands, and navigate the buyer’s journey is changing. Before you finish ramping up your marketing for the new year and embark on new digital ventures, we wanted to outline these major developments from 2017 to help you keep up with advancements being made today and anticipate transitions that advertisers will need to make tomorrow as we move into 2018.

Amazon Now Has Its Own DSP

Through the consolidation of many DSPs last year, we were left with one major surprise: Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) exceeded Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM) as the most used DSP. Despite remaining fairly below the radar, Amazon’s DSP is quickly gaining popularity because of its low agency fees, self-service option and unique commerce and purchase data. When ad buyers were asked for their preferred DSP, 23% answered Amazon. This tops the next choice, AppNexus, which falls at 19%. As the number of DSPs not owned by walled gardens, telcos, enterprise clouds or media companies decreases, differentiation becomes the key challenge.

Innovations in Transparency Hold Advertisers & Publishers More Accountable

Facebook updated their transparency policy to require political and retail-focused advertisers to reveal all ads they are running publicly in their feed. In October, Facebook announced, “Starting next month, people will be able to click ‘View Ads’ on a Page and view ads a Page is running on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger — whether or not the person viewing is in the intended target audience for the ad.” All ads must be associated with a page during the ad creation. This is a huge shift towards leveling the playing field for advertisers as they will be able to view all other ads that are running on these networks and gain competitive insights to optimize their funnels. In the past, advertisers could run dark posts, which permitted advertisers to run as many ads as they wanted without ever appearing on the brand’s own feed. This means that your competition could run multiple target specific tailored ads and you would never see them. With Facebook’s new policy, regardless of demographics, advertisers will be able to see the ads that their competition are running.

Although this initiative stemmed from a need for greater democratic transparency, Facebook’s new initiative is helpful for all parties in the digital advertising sphere and they’re not the only ones advocating for more honest advertising practices. The IAB has taken major strides to keep publishers accountable for any counterfeit inventory served to advertisers through their ads.txt project. The Ads.txt buying method confirms that each webpage uploads a file to its root domain detailing which SSP (Sell Side Platform – a tool that manages the programmatic advertising on a publisher’s site) offers its inventory, its Placement ID and its relationship with that SSP. The publishers publicly indicate who is actually authorized to market their advertising space eliminating inventory fraud. In 2018 we’ll begin to see many DSPs offer only inventory tagged with an ads.txt ID to their brand partners.

Retail eCommerce Flourishes as Online & Offline Experiences Blend

2017 was an extremely busy year for retail eCommerce with a 4.9% increase in U.S. sales and a number of mergers and acquisitions. Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion and Walmart acquired a number of eCommerce brands like Bonobos and Moosejaw. Despite the closure of many physical retail spaces, brands with brick and mortar stores are leveraging the data they’re gathering online to improve the offline customer experience, even implementing AI and AR to better understand and communicate with the customers. Conversely, strictly eCommerce brands like Casper mattresses and Harry’s shaving are partnering with traditional retailers like Target to bring online products to consumers more accustomed to offline shopping.

Cord Cutting Becomes More Popular & Advertisers Work to Gain Viewability

TVs, gaming devices, smart set-top boxes, desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones that all stream Amazon Video, Youtube TV, Netflix, Hulu, and HBO can be blamed for the slow death of cable TV. According to eMarketer, 22.2 million Americans, an 33% increase from 2016, have officially cut the cord and no longer pay for traditional cable, satellite or telco services. It’s forecasted that by 2021, 30% of adults won’t have traditional pay TV.

As online companies observed the increase in the number of streamers and the profitability this area brings, they were quick to jump onboard. In August, Facebook launched its new video service, “Watch.” This platform offers both live and pre-recorded videos that Facebook users can upload content to, similar to YouTube. However, they also partnered with Major League Baseball, the NBA, Nasa, Time Inc., National Geographic and NASA who pay to add their content to the viewing options. Facebook is not the only newcomer as Snapchat, Disney, Philo and countless TV networks created both paid and unpaid streaming platforms.

With this change in viewing preference, advertisers are finding new ways to reach these viewers. Many of the streaming platforms require users to watch a 15-60 second spot before their content plays. An advantage to this is that these ads are 100% viewable – there is no way to skip the ad. If advertisers are able to create clear, creative video that captures the attention of the viewer and seems more like an additional piece of content, this new shift will increase lift and be a great addition to many brand’s media mix.

Artificial Intelligence Knocks on Everyone’s Front Door

In 2017, artificial intelligence (AI) branched out from the areas where we were used to seeing it, like inside of our cars, smartphones and aircrafts, and is quickly integrating itself into our homes. Over the holiday season, Amazon said they sold “millions” of their Alexa products, including the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Connect, Echo Spot, Amazon Tap, Amazon Echo Look, and Amazon Fire TV stick. Google also saw success with their line of home products.

Luckily for these search and retail giants, consumers’ attitudes towards AI has shifted from fear that the technology would take their jobs to appreciation. 75% of Americans now believe that AI is here to help humans and that those who don’t embrace its benefits will be without a job in the future. As it becomes increasingly present in our lives and continues to collect rich voice data, in-home AI devices will soon lend just as much of a hand to digital advertisers as it does consumers. As 2018 moves forward, advertisers will begin to map out the uncharted territory that lies within the data accumulated from these devices.

Apple Says Goodbye to the Home Button

Apple decided to make their newest phone’s screen as large as possible and to make space for more phone, they eliminated the home button. A once standard feature on every iPhone, adjusting to the new process to unlock the smartphone via facial recognition will take time. Chief Design Officer, Jonathan Ive, spoke to the change and some of the initial opposition it faced in a recent interview with Time. Ive said that “[he] actually think[s] the path of holding onto features that have been effective, the path of holding onto those whatever the cost, is a path that leads to failure.”

The world’s most valuable brand and owner of approximately 15% of the global smartphone market share believes that its 2013 purchase of Israeli 3D sensing company, PrimeSense, powering this technology will continue to position Apple as a mobile leader. Providing greater security and ease for users when accessing their phones, the disappearance of the home button fulfills Steve Jobs wish to create a more simplified login. The iPhone X is Apple’s most personalized phone to date prompting users to say that it feels almost like the phone is magical, and projections to sell 265 million iPhones in 2018 support this sentiment.
Videos and Visuals Dominate

Four of the fastest growing social media platforms are Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr and the common denominator within all of these platforms is visual content. People are no longer satisfied with solely written content and in order to stay engaged, especially for consumers in the Millennial and Generation Z demographics, they are actively changing the way they view content. The average person gets distracted in about 8 seconds, so incorporating popular features such as photos, infographics, memes, illustrations and videos is essential. With 81% of people skimming the content they read online and image-related posts receiving a 650% higher engagement, it’s clear that captivating visual and video content is only going to become more important in 2018.

$10 Billion Spent on Data

According to a study from the IAB Data Center of Excellence and the Data & Marketing Association, US companies spent $10.05 billion on third-party audience data and $10.13 billion on solutions to support its activation in 2017. The $10.05 billion breaks down into $3.5 billion spent on email addresses, names, street addresses and other personally identifiable information, $2.9 billion on transactional data and $2 billion on digital identifiers. In regard to solution support, $4.3 billion was spent on supporting data integration, processing and hygiene, $4.2 billion spent on hosting and management solutions and $1.63 billion spent on analytics, modeling and segmentation solutions.

Snapchat Improves its Ad Tracking

Snapchat has had a very eventful year with many successes and challenges. Despite its devaluation after its IPO in March, the social platform has been very resilient. Snapchat boasts about 178 million daily users that spend an average of 30 minutes per day on the app and if you look at users under the age of 25 (about 60% of all users), this jumps to around 42 minutes of Snapchatting a day, making it more frequently used than its competitor. For brands looking to reach these users, there are a variety of ways to leverage the platform to promote their offerings, such as filters, geotags, and in-app ads that viewers see between viewing friends’ and publishers’ stories.

What’s most promising about Snapchat is its users’ disposition towards ads, with 50% receptive to or neutral to the ads they’re served. Brands are hoping to see positive results from their Snapchat campaigns and are also excited that they can now track them much more effectively. The recent release of the “Snap Pixel” allows advertisers to add a pixel to their ads and track campaign metrics and data analytics in real time. For the past three years since Snapchat began using advertising, it’s been making it easier for brands to automate campaigns, bid on ad space and measure the performance. With these advances and the platform’s sustained engagement of young millennials and Generation Z consumers, Snapchat is maintaining its position as a major player in digital advertising.

Summary

With an overwhelming amount of new players and shifting paradigms that have arisen in the digital ecosystem throughout 2017, there’s a lot to keep track of and a lot of opportunity waiting to be taken advantage of in 2018.  Having a strong digital partner to manage your brand’s digital ad buying is crucial and Digilant is ready to step in to help.  Reach out to us here to learn more about our digital media buying solutions and services and how to maximize your brand’s digital advertising potential in 2018.

Programmatic Media Buying 101: Amazon Invests in Ad Tech with its DSP AAP (Amazon Advertising Platform)

Interested in learning about Amazon’s DSP capabilities and how it can add value to your media plan? Reach out to us here and learn about Digilant’s unique partnership with Amazon’s AAP (proprietary ad platform).

Amazon is now everywhere, seemingly moving into every industry and recently making great strides in ad tech with its growing DSP business, opening up self-service programmatic ad products, and offering training programs to make direct connections with ad buyers. Its Transparent Ad Marketplace is the most popular server-to-server wrapper in the ad industry.

According to eMarketer‘s latest report, Amazon’s advertising revenues will total $1.65 billion in 2017 —far below that of Google or Facebook, but above brands like Twitter and Snapchat.
By investing in it’s demand-side platform (DSP), which is now one of the largest in the US, Amazon has a larger share of the US digital display ad market. With 3.0% of net US digital display ad revenues, Amazon takes 4th place for display ad buying in 2017 and is keeping it’s eyes on 3rd place. By offering Headline search ads, Amazon can compete with Google and Facebook for ad dollars.  Amazon is the most popular site for customers to search for consumer products online and by offering headline search ads, they are now dipping into Google’s search engine market share.

Amazon is Changing Digital Advertising as we Know it!

The one thing marketers hate is spending media budget to buy ads and then having to prove that they are converting with attribution methods.  Amazon is promising its programmatic ad buyers that if you buy ads on their DSP platform, you’ll know that they work and they will show you data to prove it. Because marketers not only want to be able to place ads in the right place and at right time, but they also want the right relevance.  Amazon offers measurement metrics from impressions and clicks to deeper data on sales information, full shopping journeys and things like a customer’s worth over a lifetime, giving media buyers what they need to prove their ads are contributing to conversions.  Amazon has a gigantic pool of real-time data, not just likes and habits, but actual purchases – what people are buying and how they are doing it -, you will know what ads work in actually driving people to make purchases — and then be best positioned to target those ads.

Their timing couldn’t be better, as Amazon’s DSP is growing in popularity, ad buyers are cutting back the number of DSPs they use. Media buyers and CMOs are choosing to use less DSPs and self-service platforms are on the rise in the ad tech industry, specifically for brands who are bringing all of their digital media buying in-house, with the goal to trim fees and have more control over their overall go-to-market strategy.  Amazon has greatly benefited from the programmatic in-housing trend. It offers agencies and brands a programmatic self-service model, and its DSP fees are among the lowest in the market.

If you want to know more about Amazon’s DSP capabilities and how it can add value to your media plan, or ask questions about Amazon’s AAP (proprietary ad platform) Digilant can help.  Reach out to us here.

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