New Amazon Marketing Cloud Capabilities

On a recent episode of the eCommerce Braintrust Podcast, host and Acadia’s Head of Retail Marketing Place Services, Julie Spear spoke with Ross Walker, retail team lead at Acadia about AMC. They dive into AMC, specific to one of the more advanced integrations of new data sources of offline and organic data that Amazon now makes available within AMC and DSP.

You can read highlights from the episodes and the key questions Julie asked Ross about what brands need to know about these AMC integrations and Ross’ ‘Hot Takes’ on AMC below.

Q: Tell us about the speed and scope of development that Amazon has on the platform where you're seeing this impacting the brands that you work with?

A: It feels like Amazon is releasing something new in this arena every couple of months. Sometimes it feels that it's coming out monthly saying that, but it's been a while since they released something new. The latest and greatest updates that they shared have been deeper analytics around subscriptions and subscribe and save. It is just a fantastic data set to get our hands into as both advertisers and brands, you know, to understand that a lot better. So I feel like Amazon has a breakneck pace of delivery here because they know there's so much intense interest around all these extra data sources and I also think that they're really keeping the tempo up high so that there's kind of always a lot of interest in the platform and you keep renewing that interest by releasing new features.

Q: What are the new packages that are in AMC?

A: It's interesting because some of these paid features have been around for a while, and there are really two that I'll start with. There's the Experian auto paid data set, which really gives you insight into what kind of cars people are buying. And so if you're ever wondering why Amazon would develop a tool like that when there are no cars sold, it really telegraphs who Amazon wants to be selling their advertising to. Carmakers are really big on their roadmap for non endemic brands that they want on the platform. So they want a piece of those marketing budgets. So that's why you see that there.

We see this a lot in Amazon's marketing materials. Sometimes their case studies are for, “here's what Hyundai did with us” and that piece of it is pretty straightforward. The other one is the foursquare paid data set, and that is supposed to give insights for what offline shopping behaviors are. 

I remember letting a prospect know once that we had access to this foursquare dataset and they said, “Foursquare? Does anyone still use that?” The answer is someone must because there's a dataset out there that Amazon is leveraging. Amazon is telegraphing who they want to be selling advertising to by offering this as a paid feature. CPG brands, brands that have a lot of brick and mortar sales in retailers outside of Amazon.

They want to be able to tie back what the offline brick and mortar shopping experience is to the advertising that these brands are doing with Amazon. So I think Amazon is trying to close those gaps with those paid data sets so that brands that, especially non endemic ones, but also CPG brands, can tell an even better story about what the return on ad spend is for their efforts through Amazon. 

Q: Tell me about the flexible shopping insights, how you envision brands using those and the kind of insights they could expect from a subscription.

A: The hot take on flexible shopping insights is. It's kind of offensive there. Amazon is asking you to pay for that. AMC is free, you just have to be able to get in there and use it. And there's a little bit of a learning curve on how to use it and an even higher learning curve about how to make the most of it. But that's all, it's free. Flexible shopping insights at core is the flip side of what AMC offers you for free. So AMC offers you all the ad attributed data for free, and the flexible shopping insights is all the organic, non ad attributed data. And they're saying, okay, you have to pay for that. To me it’s like a real slap in the face that you could offer this.

It's obviously there already. It's hard for me to believe that there's that much more of a cost to linking up one more data set to what is already a very large database processing system. So that to me, where I feel like Amazon is being kind of greedy there. So the long way of saying flexible shopping insights are the organic side of the puzzle. So I can understand all my ad attributed data through AMC, but if I want to understand what my organic data is, I have to pay for the flexible shopping insights.

Q: Do you think they're testing the fee? Will there be any buy in?

A: The thing is that the costs are not fixed. It depends on the brand and the volume of queries or the volume of business that they're doing. I've gotten quotes from Amazon saying it can be as low as $300 a month and others saying it can be $1800. So it really varies depending on the scale of queries that Amazon is having to run to pull that data. It's possible that they've done this as a stopgap to prevent too much cost on their side. We'd have to run a lot more queries, hire more developers, and It might require a lot more server space.

But if you do pay for it, then you can expect to have a better understanding of how many of your customers are ad-attributed versus non-ad-attributed. You can have insights into how many of your organic customers are new to the brand as opposed to just your ad attributed customers.

Q: Is there clear value?

A: Value, that is really good. You can understand better what your customer's long term value is. For example, of all your organic customers, “how often are they repurchasing, every month?” So you have a better sense of what your real customer value is and that is worth knowing and paying for. But I think a lot of brands are saying right now, like, it's not worth as much as Amazon is asking.

Q: What about audience segment insights? What are the compelling use cases there? 

A: It's interesting because this is another one where I have a hot take incoming.

I also feel like they were a little bit greedy because anyone who's used to using DSP with Amazon will remember the overlap. You can do a segment overlap report. I look at one of my audiences that I've created a behavioral audience. If I look at all the people who purchased from my brand in the last 365 days then I can do an overlap report. Amazon will tell me, here are all the audience segments that your purchasers are in. It will tell you, for example, that out of all the people who purchased your product, the majority of them are also in-market for pet products.

This overlap report was really helpful for me to understand. I know I want to target people who are in skincare, but what other audiences should I target if I want to increase my reach? What Amazon has done with this audience insights feels like they've just repackaged that and now made a paid version of it. So essentially what it's telling you is they purport to give you deeper insights into where your shoppers come from so you can target them better. Top of funnel for example, say you sell baseball bats and you want to run a big streaming tv campaign, you might target people who are also in market for baseball mitts or something. Is so straightforward. So what audience insights is supposed to tell you is some deeper insights into what people who are in market for baseball bats might also be shopping for. And that data is already available through DSP reports.

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Ross Walker