Media Unleashed

Amazon’s Identity Shift

By: Madison Simpkins    January 30, 2020

2019 was the year of evolution for many big names in digital marketing, showing advertisers that they could reach customers in more ways than ever before. In particular, Amazon implemented various changes in order to capture more advertising dollars and greater customer engagement. What is driving these changes, and how should we approach the platform in 2020?

Amazon has been working to shed its reputation as a strictly transactional shopping platform, where retailers sell items but don’t build loyal customers. Over the course of the past five years, Amazon has built a massive following of shoppers who are loyal to Amazon, but not to any particular seller. However, this mindset is changing. Amazon focused on several areas in 2019 to continue helping advertisers build their brand stories.

One area of focus was Sponsored Brands. While this format was not new in 2019, Amazon enhanced the product in a few ways over the past 18 months. They started by renaming the product from Headline Search to Sponsored Brands in the second half of 2018 and opening up more inventory for the format. Sponsored Brand ads are significant from a branding perspective for two reasons. First, they showcase the advertiser’s logo, chosen tagline, and multiple products, so they’re more brand-centric than other ad formats like Sponsored Products. Second, some of the ad elements drive to the advertiser’s Amazon Store page, which is one of the key ways that advertisers can tell their brand story on Amazon.

Additionally, in mid-January 2019, Amazon released new-to-brand metrics for Sponsored Brands, allowing advertisers to understand which ads are most effective at capturing customers that haven’t purchased from them on Amazon in the past 12 months. While there are limitations, this was significant as the first option Amazon search advertisers ever had for understanding new vs. existing customer purchase behavior.

In 2020 advertisers should take a cue from Amazon, and ditch old notions about what the platform is and expand their comfort zones. Amazon holdouts should dive deeply into Stores, Enhanced Brand Content, and Posts to fully understand what level of brand-building is possible before continuing to rule Amazon out. Those already on Amazon should take a fresh look at their advertising campaigns to see if there’s opportunity to invest more heavily in areas that may be less efficient but capture a high percentage of new customers.