Amazon has long been said to be a threat to Google and Facebook for digital ad dominance – its Q1 2020 earnings drive that point home with a colossal 44% year-on-year growth for the platform’s ads business. The latest earnings report from the retail giant shows a $3.9 billion income from advertisers between January and March.
These figures are all the more impressive when you consider that the spread of coronavirus and the subsequent shelter-in-place mandates around the world meant Amazon had to suspend some of its Fulfilment by Amazon services to focus on delivering only essential items.
At the same time of course, some businesses were forced to close, some retailers found it hard to get their hands on product lines due to factory closures in China and consumer demand soared as large swathes of the population shopped from home.
An analysis of Amazon’s earnings report has revealed that ad revenue did fall towards the end of March when the pandemic really started to bite but, overall, competition has never been fiercer. The figures show that year-on-year, Sponsored Product ads increased by 70% and Sponsored Brand adverts leapt by 131%. In short, building and maintaining brand awareness on Amazon is now more important, yet tougher, than it has ever been.
If you aren’t yet prioritising brand awareness, you can be sure that your rival advertisers are. A Search Engine Land study of Demand Side Platform (DSP) data carried out in February confirmed that the percentage of ad spend allocated for awareness building rocketed from 26% at the beginning of 2019 to 60% by the end of the year. Purchase focused campaign spend declined in that same period, from 74% in Q1 to 40% in Q4.
These figures underscore just how vital brand awareness building is now perceived to be – meaning if you don’t adopt a similar strategy you could easily be missing out to more proactive advertisers.
The awareness portion of the sales funnel is the very first step in the path to purchase – it’s here that the customer becomes aware of your brand or product or they realise they have a need for a certain product that must be fulfilled. It’s unsurprising then that this stage of the buying cycle directly influences the overall sales figures.
The same Search Engine Land study of the DSP data drew a clear link between awareness building and volume of sales from new-to-brand customers noting,
“…it certainly makes logical sense that investing in campaigns aimed at building brand awareness would in turn spur on more new customers to purchase from a brand.”
If you have shied away from apportioning some of your ad budget to the awareness phase, this clear pathway to sales should make the decision that much easier. In terms of ad inventory, static banner formats are a great way to fuel awareness building, especially if this is an area you have neglected until now. Sponsored Brands ads are also a tried and tested method for achieving greater brand awareness within your target customer demographic.
Sponsored Brand ads are positioned above search results so they are a very effective way of telling search users that you have what they are looking for, exactly when they begin a search for a certain type of product. You also have a great deal of control with this ad format, with the option of including several different individual products, your own headline and company logo for brand recall later.
Sponsored Brands ads can also be directed to your Store page, which can further reinforce brand awareness. The number of conversions recorded by new-to-brand customers across Sponsored Brands ads grew from 58% to 60% in the period Q1- Q4 according to the Search Engine Land deep dive into DSP data, with an additional spike during the crucial holiday shopping season.
Over the last few years, Amazon has gone to great lengths to expand its ad inventory, in large part to allow it to muscle in at the Facebook and Google table. From wait screens on Fire tablets to ads during live streaming, Stores pages and video ads, there is a multitude of ways to get your message out. Central to all of these developments is the fact that many ad formats offer storytelling capability – and that is key to building brand awareness.
One ad insider says this expansion of the Amazon ecosystem has led many brands to the realisation that they need to rethink how they use Amazon, specifically because of the new awareness-building opportunities these new formats now offer. Todd Bowman says,
“As Amazon is pushing more video betas, video capabilities, pushing OTT a lot and the Store page, advertisers are seeing that as an opportunity to build awareness about the brand and drive more sales through that.”
In order to reap the benefits of your awareness-building efforts, you’ll also need to ensure that your products are backed by social proof. This means having a strong store of positive reviews from verified buyers for key products.
Amazon shoppers have access to millions of items so successfully making them aware of your Store or product is just the first step. To ensure that awareness scores a direct hit and doesn’t mean the shopper simply takes a fleeting look and then goes back to their product research, you need to give them a reason to stick around.
With the majority of shoppers valuing reviews as much as personal recommendations, a strong Amazon review profile can consolidate positive first impressions. Seeing recent positive reviews underlines that your product and brand is trustworthy and of a good quality. This, in turn, means consumers are more likely to explore your Store page or read product information, both of which are a step in the direction of a confirmed sale.