It may not come as much of a surprise to learn that Amazon’s business is booming in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. What may surprise you is just how much the marketplace is expanding, and how quickly it’s picking up ad dollars. The latest earnings report shows that Amazon’s ad business grew 77% year-on-year for Q1 of 2021 to almost $7 billion. To put that figure into context, Twitter’s earnings report, which was published the same day, was seven times lower.
It would be unfair to say that Amazon’s ad business growth is purely a result of pandemic-driven e-commerce spending however. The first signs that it was making serious inroads into Google and Facebook’s ad dominance were clear in Q1 last year, when it recorded a 44% year-on-year growth across its ads business, before the full impact of COVID-19 had been felt in the USA.
Additional research suggests that advertisers have increased their spend on Sponsored Brands ads by as much as 82% in the first portion of 2021, while Sponsored Brands Videos is also an increasingly popular format. Data from Merkle’s Q1 2021 Digital Marketing Report says Sponsored Brands Ads now account for 25% of all PPC ad spend on Amazon.
The bottom line? Advertisers are flocking to Amazon and spending more than ever before in order to capture the attention of Amazon shoppers. It is more important than ever to maintain a strong brand presence, yet harder than it has ever been to build and retain brand awareness.
If you aren’t prioritizing brand building, you’ll lose ground to rivals who are
More than half of ad spend taking place on Amazon’s Demand Side Platform (DSP) is earmarked for brand building. As per a study carried out by Search Engine Land, as much as 60% of DSP budget was allocated for awareness building by the end of 2019, up from just 26% at the start of that year. If you aren’t employing a similar tactic, you risk being less visible and less memorable than rivals who have opted to factor brand building into their overall ad strategy.
You could also be missing out on new customers
It’s already been well established that the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted consumer purchase habits and seriously accelerated the move to online shopping, thanks to widespread closures and stay-at-home orders.
Brand awareness allows you to tap into this change and use those shifting consumer behaviors to win over new customers. Research conducted by Bazaarvoice confirmed that more than one third of global consumers made at least one purchase from a brand new to them during the pandemic. In the USA, that figure is higher with more than half of shoppers (51%) trying a new brand. The numbers spike higher still for younger shoppers. Significantly, the vast majority (83%) say they will continue to purchase from those new brands.
To be in with a chance of winning over those customers willing to try new brands, you need to be on their radar. And that’s where brand awareness comes in. If you don’t have a place for brand building in your Amazon ads strategy, you’re immediately at a disadvantage, given the tangible link between investing in brand awareness and volume of new-to-brand sales. Search Engine Land says, “Investing in brand awareness campaigns also has the trickle-down effect of producing more customers that have not purchased from the brand previously or who are infrequent purchasers.” Sponsored Brand ads are a useful starting point for awareness building given they sit right at the top of search results. This is psychologically important as it immediately tells the shopper that you have what they are searching for at that moment, putting you in direct contention as they weigh up their purchase options. This type of ad format allows you a certain degree of creative control to showcase your brand in the most effective way possible, with space to showcase a number of individual products, a company logo and your own choice of headline.
Amazon makes it very easy to allocate ad budget to brand building
Amazon has continued to innovate across its ad ecosystem with new ad formats and features rolling out regularly through the year. Having developed a large ad inventory, Amazon provides ample opportunity to build awareness across a range of formats and channels. These include:
- Audio ads run across Alexa-enabled devices such as Fire TV and Amazon Echo
- Video ads on live streaming wait screens on Fire tablets
- Video ads both on and off Amazon, including on channels such as IMDB and Twitch, with in-feed and OTT options
- Sponsored Product Ads in search results and product pages
- Customizable Sponsored Brands ads to link customers to your Amazon Store or landing page
- Sponsored Display ads on and off Amazon including in apps
Don’t forget your review profile
With so many compelling reasons to embrace brand building as part of your Amazon ads strategy, you’ll likely now very keen to get started. Before you do, it’s important that you also factor in one other activity. In order to successfully turn brand awareness into increased sales, you’ll want to ensure that potential shoppers can verify their positive impression of your brand with social proof. That means you’ll need to be proactive about building and maintaining a strong review profile too.
In today’s digital era, online reviews are the modern equivalent of word of mouth recommendations. In fact, 87% of consumers read online reviews and 94% of shoppers say a positive review makes them more likely to use a business. By the same token, 92% of consumers say a negative review makes them less likely to buy from a business. Most shoppers will only pay attention to reviews from the last three months, so even with ongoing brand awareness, you’ll still need to ensure that you’re generating a steady supply of fresh reviews with a minimum of four stars or above.