How to win with Amazon eCommerce advertising methods

Recorded Webinar:

Future-Proof Your Brand With Amazon

Mike Kazantzis
Principal, KANE
Steve Susi
Partner, KANE

Summary

Your brand can win with Amazon—and choosing the right eCommerce advertising methods is key to building your game plan. This webinar shows you how to leverage the full breadth of the Amazon universe, debunk common misconceptions about the online giant, and build a top-scoring Amazon marketing strategy with an Always-On Innovation Cycle.

Key Takeaways

  • Invest in the long game: Go beyond Amazon marketing fundamentals of retail readiness, reviews, SEO, and advertising. Stand-out brands invest in display, sponsorship, and custom creative. 
  • Leverage free tools: Take advantage of A+ Content, brand stores, and Amazon Posts to expand your eCommerce advertising methods without increasing your ad spend.
  • Think Amazon-first: Don’t force-fit your pre-made brand creative for Amazon. From package design to detail-page-ready copy, start with tactics that shine on Amazon, then expand them to other channels. 
  • Build deeper engagement: Focus your Amazon marketing strategy on crafting meaningful customer experiences that go beyond the digital world.

Related Resources

Transcript

Melissa
Hi everyone. I'm Melissa Burdick, and I'm really thrilled to kick off our webinar today. I'm here with good friends from the old days of Amazon. From KANE creative group. I've got a Michael Kazantzis who I think I finally had pronounced that correctly for the twentieth time. He’s a principal at KANE, former Amazon creative director for five years. And my good friend, Steve Susi as well, who was the first creative director on the ground and Amazon's New York City office.

And later the first executive creative director at Amazon advertising, relocating to the London office in 2016 also joins KANE. He also wrote a book called Brand Currency: A former Amazon exec on money, information, loyalty, and time. I assume you can find that on Amazon. Is that right? Yes. Figured. I'm sure you encourage people to read it. Right?

Steve
I absolutely would. It comes in a variety of formats. Yeah. Thank you for mentioning that. I appreciate it.

Melissa
That's my bucket list to write a book. So, maybe one day.  

Steve
How about right after this? Let's get started.  

Melissa
There we go. I'll write one page. I'll be lucky. And of course, hopefully you all know me, I'm president and co-founder at Pacvue, which is an enterprise platform for brands, sellers, and agencies to manage their advertising costs, Amazon, Walmart, and Instacart, and more to come this year. All right, let's go to the next slide. So, I'm gonna kick this off and really this is the KANE show because these guys are amazing.

They're former Amazonians, led the creative group there, really understand Amazon creative and beyond. They're going to provide a little bit about the e-commerce growth in the effects of Amazon. One of the things that I've always thought is super helpful is examples. So, they're really going to bring to you examples of their work and how they've been working with brands.  And of course, a little bit of programming. Note, please enter in the Q and A box any questions that you guys have because we'll do Q and A at the end.

So, I always like to say, ask your hardest questions, especially a former Amazonians that know all the secrets because they can tell you. So, on the next slide, I think I'll just tell you a little bit about us. So, of course you know we're really an enterprise SAS platform for brand sellers and agencies. We've integrated disparate data pieces together like vendor central seller central and advertising data to drive actions in advertising. On the next slide, there's a lot of reasons why people are leveraging technology these days, but more and more, it's important to be able to stay ahead of your competition. We provide a lot of competitive insights and category insights which are really helpful for advertising strategies. The time savings alone especially to do bulk operations and reporting, not to mention to scale your business is really important. 

And then, of course, everyone's asking what's ROI. So, we want more and more ability to squeeze the lemon and get more which you can do through technology. And then, really having flexible and robust reporting is important because you don't want to spend time in Excel spreadsheets. You want to spend time on strategy. So, that's a little bit about Pacvue. Call us if you ever want a demonstration and to understand how we can help you. But without further ado, let's talk to KANE who, you know, a lot of our clients are leveraging for their advertising, creative needs. And take it away you guys. 

Mike
Thanks Melissa. And thank you everybody for joining us today. We're going to talk today about future-proofing a brand in the Amazon we're in and we're going to be starting with e-commerce growth since it's a very relevant subject for the time that we're in right now. And it's unfortunate and highly covered topic that's been discussed extensively, but worth mentioning here strictly for its relevancy to our industry. But COVID has massively accelerated the growth of e-commerce. According to Forbes and Adobe report, the total US online spending in June was up 76.2% year over year and more customers than ever are turning to e-commerce.

And while the growth in sales and the decline in brick and mortar retail was already happening slowly, and we know that's been trickling they're positive and crossing. It's been accelerated exponentially by COVID. Unfortunately leaving some behind and resulting in the closure of many small businesses without preexisting e-commerce presence. I know I've seen this all over and I've been hearing more and more every day. It seems to have been the straw that bankrupted several major retailers and the latest count I think we have about 23 so far. 

Steve
Actually I just found out while shopping yesterday that Stein Mart has now gone out of business. So, this is already an outdated list. 

Mike
Yeah. Day-by-day. 

Melissa
Yeah, I saw that.

Mike
It's crazy. I heard today also that a bunch of restaurants are closing in institutions in New York City. It's terrible, it’s terrible. But you know what, will this continue and really the question is, will it continue and has a need for e-commerce from COVID been ingrained in shopper behavior and will this pattern change permanently?

And some early data that we've seen from DaVinci payments suggests that online shopping will continue to grow at least through this holiday season 71% plan to shop online during the holidays more than ever this year. And even some major retailers, some of these major brick and mortar retailers who have traditionally led the way and kicking off the holiday shopping season to their millions of turkey stuff customers are keeping their doors closed this year, but their e-commerce sites will remain open and they'll be competing with Amazon for online sales.

So, brands should take notice and plan their Black Friday and cyber Monday strategies accordingly because it's looking like it's going to be an all digital shopping season or at least mostly. So, that leads us to Amazon and their growth over this time. They've seen a meteoric rise. Well, as we know, others have struggled. Forty-three percent plus sales suggest that more customers are buying products. Forty-three percent increase in sales in Q2 year over year, suggest more customers are buying products from Amazon and their increase in ad revenues suggests that more brands are realizing the value in benefiting from Amazon's customer data and using their platform to reach them.

And there's really, no – they have no signs of slowing down. There's nothing to suggest that Amazon has any intent on reducing and they're just pushing forward as they always do. Funding Geoff Bezos’s wildest ambitions tomorrow's and beyond so much that their share price has been targeted as high as $4,200 recently.

And Jeff's ex-wife and McKenzie Scott, I think a week or two ago, she tried to give away $1.7 billion to charity, which she did on a Wednesday. By Friday, she had made it all back and that's just how crazy Amazon has been doing. And it is a force for sure. So, that's why we think it's important for brands to understand the Amazon universe, how it works, how to use it effectively for growth. And I'm going to kick it over to Steve to take you through a little bit of why that is.  

Steve
Thank you, sir. Well, a lot of you joined this presentation today. Thank you for doing so. Under the auspices of building your brand on Amazon, and that usually raises eyebrows. Building a brand Amazon? And so, what brings people in and gets them hooked is the e-commerce, but a lot of brand owners and marketers out there are not fully aware of the might of the Amazon universe. And if we go to the next slide, in 2014 we sought to change that forever.

So, when Mike and I were at Amazon, we wanted agencies and brands to do just that, understand the Amazon universe. So, we created the trusted creative partner program and ended up delivering 70 plus sessions throughout North America and Europe, especially when I was relocated to London. And we wanted to coach these partners on how to work best with Amazon, learn its guidelines and standards, which are unique to the industry and adopt Amazon's stringent best practices. 

The problem was when individuals were either placed on other agency accounts or brand managers left that company, the institutional knowledge left with them. So, we would train, train, train, and then six months later, that same organization would require further training. And, we used to joke and call it Groundhog day because we were just going ahead and reissuing the same sessions that we had done just a half year prior. And then, we were often asked, “Well, what company does do Amazon creative? Well, who really gets it?

And our answer was no one. Somewhere between those creative specs and the policy nuances, and that's being gentle, it became clear that there's a grasp of the practice and protocol from working at Amazon for so long that can't be replicated or found in a slide deck. The only way to really leverage Amazon was to be an Amazonian. So, that's why we started KANE. So, while we're starting this presentation with e-commerce; because we're just talking about sheer eyeballs at that point and credit cards, we also want to recognize that the vast majority of brands out there say they know they're not getting the most out of Amazon. 

And so, at least they have come to that realization that Amazon is much more than e-commerce, but where to begin? How do you even start moving that? So, think about that now. This stat, admittedly, is a few years old, but Amazon and its customer are continually changing. So, we'd be surprised if 85% isn't right around where it currently is if these same brand owners were serving. So, we talk about this statistic a lot because it's pretty staggering percentage of brands who know they could be doing a lot more, but just don't know where to start.  

So, we have a simplistic little machine here. I guess it's inspired by Amazon's famous flywheel. And it is the brand building machine. So, many brands don't even get to DSP. They literally stop at PPC, which is fine if your only goal is to sell products and do it on a shoestring budget. But I think of this diagram as KANE’s simple but effective machine. But without all the gears turning, it's not going to work as nearly as well as it should. 

So, the next slide, when we turn the fifth gear effectively using targeting display campaign sponsorships and custom experiences, and then cycle the data and learnings back to the first gear, that's where we begin to realize the full potential. And Amazon specific creative can really help with that and help turn those gears even faster when it's compelling interest, traffic click through and purchase.  

So, as Mike mentioned earlier, the commitment to Amazon performance is ongoing. And here's a few things just to – when we have our initial conversations with a lot of these brands, we said, “Did you even know that there are free offerings that Amazon offers?” People will say, “Free?” Everybody loves that word. So, for instance, it’s startling to see the lack of A-plus content, serious participation out there, and plus combines product messaging, compelling, imagery, or imageries, informative graphics and lifestyle imagery to help your customer make better decisions. 

When you help them make better decisions, that elevates your brand equity, and they'll come back. You'll be surprised at how many sellers and vendors don't take this seriously next to brand stores, which allow you to showcase your brand and products in a multi-page, immersive shopping experience.  This is considerably further up the funnel from the product detail pages were brands like the North Face can deliver their eco-friendly messaging. You're a level up from learning specifically about products or product categories. And finally posts, which are in beta, but this is a new image based browsing experience on Amazon. 

So, shoppers can explore brands, specific feeds or browse by a category to discover products and see what's new from brands. Posts link directly to detail pages, making each unit in a feed instantly shoppable. Next slide, this is probably redundant with a lot of your experience. So, I won't belabor the point, but Amazon staggering seasonal traffic is often perceived by a lot of brand owners out there as, “Whoa, the competition's even heavier than it normally is. It's gonna cost me a boatload.” But the deal is with tent poles.

This is a chance if you feel like reserving your budgets for a few times a year, this is the time where data is driven in petabytes on a daily basis. And so, that can help inform the remainder of your approach to Amazon and, or your e-commerce strategy as a whole. So, pandemic plus seasonal needs, plus holiday buying means eye-popping numbers. So, ready for school's about to wrap up. And I know Pacvue had a fantastic back to school webinar recently. 

Prime Day, if things hold, has been moved to October and Black Friday, cyber Monday is just around the corner. And on that note, I'd like to just mention a few high-level best practices. So, let's take a look at these and bullet one with the highest sustained traffic of the year. Amazon leaders scrutinized everything heavily in Q4 tent pole reviews. This is serious because often these creatives, the campaigns go all the way up to at least the S team. And I've been involved in many campaigns that go all the way to Jeff B. So, adhere to all these policies or prepare for rejection. 

It's not that your account executive doesn't like you, it's because they're just obeying the guidelines from the very top. So, please keep that in mind when dealing with Q4 at Amazon. Next start generating holiday creative as early as you can. If you haven't already begun now's the time, because it stands to reason that internal approval cycles are longer. Less is always more at Amazon, particularly when it comes to Q4 approvals. So, keep messaging to a minimum and customer benefit first design on-grid and use uncluttered imagery. 

I can't tell you how many frantic clients would receive the bad news after we had informed them that a lot of this stuff simply would not be accepted because it was just clumsy or just wasn't doing the customer experience any favors. So, please just keep it simple, and you'll be surprised how greased the wheels are for approvals in Q4. And then, finally the Amazon customer shops with her phone, even more during the holidays. So, ensure your messaging and imagery are instantly legible on small screens. 

I remember at least the last Q4 when I was in Europe, 73% of all purchases on Black Friday were made via smartphone. So, if you're not taking it seriously, please do yourself a favor and do so. And now I'm going to pass it back to Mike for the next bit.  

Mike
So, Amazon, as we've been saying, it's so much more than e-commerce there's so many different buckets that Amazon has its toes in. And these are the things that brands and advertisers can use to really expand their presence beyond just the typical Amazon universe. And utilize them for custom experience or to build something that doesn't exist at all. And as long as we're always open to that, they have many different properties that are used every single day in order to help brands reach the customers that they need to. And it's really brand building for marketers who know, as we like to call it –  

Steve
Mike, I'm gonna barge in, ‘cause I'm gonna let somebody in, let the focus in on a little bit. When we used to present slides like this to brand owners and agencies around the world, we'd say, “Welcome to Amazon, the company that delivers your bananas for free in under two hours has cloud storage and processing contracts with the world's largest governments and has won three Academy awards and five Emmys. And if that doesn't show you that Amazon has so many different – it's hardware, touchpoint software events like Prime Day, they're fashion design, they are robotics, they are logistics. So, don't think of Amazon as an ‘it’, think of it as a ‘they’. And we're going to try to help you understand how you might take advantage of the they.  

Mike
Yeah, and I think that's becoming more common knowledge as opposed to when we used to talk about this five years ago, but  become more common knowledge now. But I think what's become even more common recently is that brands are now starting to adopt an Amazon first approach where typically a brand would build a TV spot, build an ad campaign and then a key visual and run that down through all of their channels and try and retrofit it into various formats. That never really worked on Amazon. And we spent years trying to convince brands that that doesn't work. 

And in some cases it completely violates any Amazon policies that they're trying to do. And what we've been seeing recently is the smaller teams that were typically e-commerce teams that were developed about five or six years ago when agencies and brands started to search, pop up their own specialized teams to deal specifically with Amazon have now shifted to brand teams. And today at KANE, particularly this past year, we've been seeing a big increase in engagement from brand teams who began to realize that they can use Amazon to build and grow brand awareness and spread that effort outward from there. 

So, they're starting with Amazon as a priority, seeing how well their brands have been performing and taking an Amazon first approach and the principles that they've learned from that, they spread outward to other channels. So, here's what a typical engagement might look like when we talk about that. It starts with a full brand audit of the brands Amazon presence. How it compares to the competitors and the critical components like listing or the copy brand story, SEO, enhanced and secondary images, brand stores, and any campaigns are all fully scrutinized. 

Then you begin to optimize. You go into the listing, the SEO and apply those to a customer first approach, which then informs the imagery and other content.  If possible, we'd want to get into digitally optimized package design. It's highly recommended when the customer experience is taken into consideration. If we consider the way most customers engage with our brands through just particularly  through a digital environment through Amazon, it's usually through that small pack shot or that small little ASIN image. 

And it's a good idea for a brand to ask, “Is that the best first impression that we can make? Is there anything that we can do to make it better? Are the things on our pack legible?” Things like that. So, using a pack from another channel might not necessarily translate well through an Amazon environment specifically not an Amazon first approach. So, once everything is working properly with the basics down, brands could then use Amazon's higher funnel offerings, like some of the things that we'll be talking about shortly to expand reach, and grow awareness. And from there, they can take that evolution and expand to other channels. 

And of course the learnings and data will then be looped back to the beginning because optimization is never a set it and forget it proposition. So, we start with a full audit and work hourly from there until everything is working perfectly well within the Amazon environment, and then use that to spread out really to other channels specifically other e-commerce channels as well. And so, we'd love to take you through a few of our favorite customer examples from our days at Amazon. And these are ways that brands can continue to engage customers in very new and unique ways.  

Well, there's an infinite number of ways that we can do this. These are a few that we'd like to point out. And one of the phrases that we've heard the most in giving presentations and in the trainings that Steve mentioned earlier for the creative partner program is, “I didn't know, I could do that on Amazon.” There's millions of times that we've heard that for years when working with brands when working with agencies, and Amazon when we would showcase custom solutions and executions and try and plant seeds of what's possible on Amazon. 

So, here's an example of a Hershey page. It's candy, it’s close to home. It's an advanced retail experience. And we developed the shoppable game for her. Where mom can shop, kids can play and at the end, mom gets a coupon. She plays the game, you know, the kids play the game, they win and she saved some money. So, is it brand, or is it e-commerce? The answer is yes. Their experiences like this, the typical detail page or a typical landing page and make it much more engaging for a brand.  

Another example is this is a one that really utilizes the full experience of what Amazon has to offer. And this is one that we developed with an Amazon advertising working with friends at Droga5 to come up with a new holiday called National Toilet Paper Day. It was billed as the forgettable holiday with a memorable deal because it was a forgettable holiday to celebrate a forgettable product like toilet paper. And what was clever about it was using that idea to tie to my subscribe and save. So, customers can set up a repeated delivery at the cadence of their choosing and just forget about it. 

And they worked in all of these tactics and touch points to really have it take hold. There's many pop-up stores in New York City and Seattle to provide an unconventional twist to the shopping experiences. Customers who visited them can make their Amazon subscribing save called the Northern purchase there and sign up there. And they ran social media mentions of TP day on Facebook. And Twitter was the deal of the day. There is a custom landing page that was developed for it. And of course, a Quilted Northern dashboard, which is no longer available, but at the time helped customers in reordering toilet paper. 

So, it was the full experience. Over 30,000 people visited this many popups between Seattle and New York City. They should be 10,000 flyers, over 350 selfies were taken. And it was all over social media and ad week got lots of press and lots of buzz because of that. 

Steve
Yeah, yeah, yeah. What's fun about that, and again, you mentioned Droga5 who were absolutely outstanding partners simply because they said, “What can we do to lead our strategy with an Amazon specific function or feature?” And so, then when they learned about subscribe and save; and these were creatives, so they are 100% aware of something like subscribe and save in the Amazon universe, they realized that if they compelled people with a big initial discount to stock up on Quilted Northern and give them that discount if they selected subscribe and save so that it would just arrive on their doorstep, they could forget about buying toilet paper. So, they really started with the customer and worked backwards, which is our ethos at Amazon and certainly it came. And now I don't know if this record still lives on with this springs panic buying of toilet paper, but they'd set a record.  

They sold more in one day on the national toilet paper day than they sold in a month ever. So, it really worked. And as Mike put it so well, they really took all the meat off the Amazon bone and left no stone unturned to really crank this promo up. And I guess it's legend in DP industry. So, we really want to give a lot of the applause to Droga who were just super receptive to that. And then, I'm gonna take you through one of my favorites. Hyundai in the United States is a challenger brand and we'd been trying to get into speak with them for a long time. And they really weren't hugely interested. 

So, we had this concept, what if we leveraged the Amazon prime now infrastructure and used it as a local home series of home bases where we could have a fleet of Hyundai Elantras and just like prime now, deliver vehicles to people's homes on demand for test drives. And we called it prime now drive now. And I used to always, after this experience and, you know, it went off without a hitch. And it was really, really revolutionary because nobody likes going to the dealer. It dawned on me that the promise of Amazon isn't online, it's on your doorstep. And so, why should a vehicle test drive be any different? 

So, it's since been productized, the Amazon prime now drive now, and it's been run for automotive clients in the US Canada, UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. So, think of an idea for your line of work, your business category or sector that would be similar to this. How could you turn it on its head? And Hyundai, I remember one of the executives of one of the last meetings said, “We're never going back, but this is the way we're going to start thinking from now on.”  

So, it took a challenger brand who felt that it wasn't getting all the consideration it deserves to say yes. But maybe you can be that brand next time. The next slide is – now imagine exploring your favorite product line on the largest screen in the house. So, with Fire TV, you may or may not know that brands have immense real estate on which to offer immersive experiences. 

If you press the play button or pause or the space button, we can start to just see how this works for L’Oréal. Now it's particularly suited well, two large item, light items like cars, because you just have this massive canvas, but it's also really good for big ticket items, which people really, really want to learn all about and feel immersed in or complex products like technology and electronics. So, in this case, we're moving using the remote control through a decision tree, down to the category and ultimately product level where by clicking that button. 

Amazon is a single sign on universe so it knows that it's you and hopefully it’s not your child who navigated through this decision tree arrives at the right product, according to all of those selections. And, hopefully it will be on its way within a few minutes of purchased through the television. So, Fire TV is a really exciting, large format touch point that a lot of brands don't even know. For the next one, this was from London, we took the prime now delivery bag and printed on it. And in doing so, we made the whole bag interactive. 

So, customers needed only tap the Amazon mobile app and camera icon, and then just face the bag. And the customer custom experience was instantly activated whenever we had to get it down to under 25 milliseconds, a custom experience detailing Europe's travel destinations for the American express gold card. So, again, we're trying to put this new level of interactivity within easy reach, not just for the customer, it's always customer first, but for the Brands too. 

And to take that a step further, when we were at Amazon advertising, the next slide we'll show what we created, which was an entirely new visual language that allows anyone with that Amazon mobile app to scan a smile code and shop, explore, watch video, enter a sweepstakes, and much more. Basically, activate any experience in the Amazon universe. So, this is an advertising as usual. It's offline attribution for marketers and ease of use and millions of customers hands the world over. So, while we created this on behalf of advertisers, looking for that holy grail of digital marketing, which is offline attribution, you can go ahead and click that. 

You'll see that always chomping at the bit. Retail actually got the first execution of this and they made this entire cosmopolitan issue shoppable. So, not just ads, but also features and editorial. So, there's a small code located near any product which Amazon stocked, which is many of them. And, customers were instantly brought to the appropriate destination on Amazon. And then, on the next slide, you'll see that our patent innovation can take your brand presence on Amazon, to places you probably didn't expect. 

And on the right, you see an example of the SmileCode, video activation, just simply by holding it up in front of a code. What's great about the codes is that they can be augmented on the backend. And they also come with customer metadata baked into the experience. So, depending on geo time of day location language shopping history, et cetera SmileCodes put a new power in the hands of customers and our advertisers really appreciate that offline attribution closed loop. And with that, I'm gonna hand it back to Mike.  

Mike
You know what I really love about SmileCodes is you can turn any ad, any TV spot, any piece of any marketing material into an instantly shoppable, instantly shoppable experience. So, you can take your billboard at the bus stop and let customers shop directly from that right. I'm surprised I don't see more use of it like that. But you know just to summarize a few key takeaways points that we wanted to make first one is obsess over customer benefits and not products features. 

And there's a very small distinction between the two. And it's really about understanding that Amazon is customer obsessed and those customers that are shopping on Amazon want to know about how the product is going to benefit them. They want to know that it's going to make their lives better.

And not necessarily that it's a better product, if that helps the distinction. The second one Amazon's creative policies and guidelines are designed to maximize the customer's experience and not cater to advertisers. And we sat through many meetings with brands, big brands that were spending a lot of money to tell them that they can't use their 100% magenta on their banner because it violates Amazon's criminal policies. They weren't happy about it. But that's the way the policies work because it was offensive to customers. It was shouty. 

So, we're going into understanding that the Amazon policy will trump your own policies. It's best to familiarize yourself with this as well. Also, mastering the fundamentals like PPE optimization before investing in advertising is critical. Getting the SEO down, understanding the search understanding how your product detail page works and your store's page works and using all of those free placements that we mentioned getting those things in place and optimized before you advertise is key.

Amazon has power and customer trust to build your brand, not just sell. This one I think is becoming more and more well-known throughout the industry, but brands just don't understand how to take advantage of that. As we know, 85% don't, and it's important for them to really understand the Amazon universe and how to utilize it by taking full advantage of that for your first market concepts. There's plenty of custom campaigns that we could show you. We've picked the select few, but they're also open to any other ideas that brands have, or that might work well for a customer benefit. They're open to developing new ideas and new products, if they're better for customers. And if any brands are looking, wondering how to do that, or have a good idea, we're always here to help.

Steve
Thank you. I always let people know. I mean, “Just try and scare us with your ideas.” I mean, I used to joke if PR legal and trade-marketing aren't terrified of your concept, it’s not big enough. I mean, this is a company that delivers Barbies from the air. So, they are excited to see the big, scary ideas. Believe it or not, it helps Amazon advance too. 

They love being first to market and being the canvas for all the great brains that are joining this webinar at the moment. See if you can take advantage of that. And, I always let brand owners know be frank with your AE. You know, if you're spending a goodly amount of money, ask them if there's anything that's included there that the brand isn't taking advantage of. Because there are so many different touch points and technologies and emerging platforms that you may not know about.

And then, one more thing before we go, because this is about the topic of the decade. Maybe even more, hopefully it's not for much longer, Amazon's a family environment. We used to say, pretend 8-year-old is shopping. So, it's every day that applies, but we're hypersensitive today during the pandemic. So, the next bullet, you know, avoid turns a phrase associated with a pandemic or illness in general, like breathe or breathing, viral spread fever, distancing. I think this is probably common sense, but this is no time to be cute. 

Finally, next fear appeal will backfire tremendously. So, stay away from anything that implies what you need to stay safe or healthy, that will almost certainly get rejected by Amazon policy. Next don't refer in messaging or imagery to cancellations or large gatherings, keep your photo and video subjects to three or fewer. And then, finally home settings or best outdoor lifestyle imagery should be limited to two subjects with an empty or near empty background. And as Mike said, we have dozens upon dozens. We have one a custom presentation, that's seven gigs of those kinds of things that we just walked through. So, if you'd like to see some more or something in your category you know how to find us. Thank you.

Melissa
Awesome. That was super interesting. So, question from the audience, can SmileCodes be used in social posts? 

Steve
Absolutely. They work. They even work on lower res televisions. It's pretty remarkable. And so, if once you receive one, if you engage with Amazon and you make that a priority, and then obviously there has to be an Amazon buy included. They're not just giving them away. Although I think that would also be cool because the system allows for 2.5, 4 billion non-duplicative SmileCodes before they're going to have to start over reusing the old ones. So, the short answer is absolutely they can.  

Melissa
Cool. So, how do you guys typically engage with clients? What are you doing for them? How are you project based? How do you guys work with brands?

Mike
Typically we will do both project based and then retainer based work. Typically brands engage us when they're looking to expand or grow their brands on Amazon or even launching new products. So, we're building everything from custom, new content to working with brands to optimize their current content for Amazon. So, we work with them throughout that whole entire process, building and creating content.

And also in some cases we help brands do in-housing. So, we'll train our internal teams. I know in housing is a big thing. A lot of brands they're building their own in-house internal design teams. And the announcement we used to do after years of Amazon is just a creative partner program. So, we've now turned that into a capability that we can now offer brands directly as well.  

Melissa
And then, how do brands typically handle other channels compared to Amazon?

Steve
Well, it's interesting. Amazon's been not only in operation longer than pretty much everybody or if anybody was around before Amazon shares, Amazon bought them by now. But so typically they can lean on many of the best practices that Amazon's quintillions of user impressions a month offer. And so, then there's two interesting things that happened with regard to other retailers. Number one, many of the industry best standard emulate Amazons closely. It's not by accident. Industry has, you know, rising tide lifts, all boats. The industry has grown because of Amazon's growth. So, contrary to what maybe the press may lead you to believe. 

So, when dealing with other retailers, I'm just going to name a few; Target or Walmart or Home Depot, most brands feel safe employing the best practices that were devised by Amazon. And then, number two, it's probably no secret. A lot of e-commerce powerhouses outside of Amazon are led by former Amazonians who know that they can believe in those best practices. So, if somebody moved on from Amazon to company B, there's a good chance that somebody is implementing the same level of standards, practices, and guidelines that they had enjoyed at Amazon. 

Melissa
Do you guys know anything about prime day creative? 

I remember like executions where you would you be able to put prime day in the creative and then there was a year where you couldn’t use prime day in the creative and people were doing things like, “Go to Amazon for your prime day deals,” or whatever. You guys know what's going on this year or what the latest policies are around leveraging? Things like that.

Steve
Specifically because of the big upheaval. But Mike, go ahead and I know I'll chime in with something else. 

Mike
Well, I was gonna just speak specifically to that point about putting prime day on banners. I mean, Amazon kingdom had stopped brands from putting Conde on their own banners that they run off site and driving through Amazon pages. It really applies when brands are buying into prime day brought prime day sponsorships that there's a lot of policies and guidelines around that. 

And there's very, very, very strict with the way prime day creative was reviewed and advertising was reviewed. Even down to what a brand puts on their landing page and the destination click through the products have to match. I think on there was a razorblades and mayonnaise on the same page that a brand was trying to put together, that was a shutdown. But what happens outside of Amazon –

Steve
They try to police it because obviously it can be considered an infringement –

Mike
– They prefer that brands don't take it into their own hands though. And all of that work is usually done internally the prime day sponsorship placements. 

Steve
Yeah. And as Mike said, the brands that purchase sponsorship packages, they get greater visibility certainly. But in doing that, they also have to adhere to the privilege of having prime days visual standards, not their own. So, think of a brand like Roku or– not Roku, but I don't know, Gillette like he just said, or Hellman's. If they buy a sponsorship package, it has to be a certain color palette type phase. It has to be in line with the prime day global or universal visual design and messaging guidelines which are strict.

And just as I said about Q4 being a heavily scrutinized creative by top leaders, absolutely the same goes for prime day. So, early on, it was the Wild West because we didn't realize just how big it was going to be. And so, we let people co-promote prime day with their own ads. And then, by the next year that had been quashed because it was getting out of control and potentially confusing customers. And then, some people try to rip off the prime day logo by trying to recreate it in a similar type face. 

They get it wrong every time they try to run their ads through say like, pay-per-click, and then they get busted. So it's a double-edged sword with the creative. You don't get to have your brands guidelines employed if you buy the sponsor package, but you're guaranteed big time traffic. So, it's a six in one hand, half dozen, the other, I guess. 

Melissa
And then, we've got time for one more question, which is when launching a new item for your brand, what are the biggest pitfalls or opportunities for the brand that we might not understand from an Amazon perspective?

Steve
Launching a new brand? 

Melissa
Or a new item within your brand?  

Steve

I'll start with this and Mike, I'm sure you have plenty. A lot of times we see people launch new products and do one of two things and sometimes both which is actually really, really kiss of death. Number one, they use the learnings from another unrelated product in their portfolio and its performance and, or launch performance on Amazon as the guide in the bellwether to have this one should be launched with their different products.

There are different customers guaranteed. Number two, Mike mentioned it earlier. It's not a set it and forget it. A lot of people leave, they launched a product and you know, there's a little bit of fanfare and maybe they cuss up a nice eight plus page, but then they just leave it alone. No those that first week, that first two weeks, it's not a daily optimization. 

It could be four or five times a day because you're trying to maximize these are brand new people that may never come back as they've never seen this product before. So, to give yourself the best opportunity to drive, repeat consideration, and hopefully purchase is to have a hyper loop of learnings and tweak those knobs all day for that first week or two. And that goes down to SEO and messaging, but also click through performance in advertising as well as B plus, you know, the side panels next to the hero image up top, if there's been any interaction there. And if you see one, that's just not getting any, do your best to replace it as quickly as possible and learn from that.

Mike
Well, I have a few points to add to that quickly. Not setting clear expectations and that's setting your KPIs properly. So, I mean, depending on what the brand's goals are as to sell products to drive purchase, I mean, obviously it's always a purchase, but if you want to build a brand or do you want to sell some products and making that distinction will determine what type of campaigning you do, what the meeting you buy how you, how you promote the brand, throughout the Amazon universe as well. 

The second point in that is often I see brands launch without listening to the customers, like get a sense of what the customer sentiment is. Read the reviews from your competitors and use those reviews and determine what they're doing wrong and how to make your things right. And, I mean the reviews are like a beautiful untapped source of like feedback, constant feedback that often brands overlook and even like the questions and answers, it's really that I see brains engaging in those community those Q and A sections. 

Steve
So, glad you mentioned that. Anybody else who's watching this, please train or have us come in and help. I mean, this is not a plug, but I'm just saying somebody needs to get the people that manage your search presence to add customer review management to do that as well. Somebody once said years ago, and it gets laughed at, but it's not all that untrue.

Amazon customer reviews were the first social network. So, social network folks social logisticians, and people that manage social accounts for major brands already have that innate ability to then scour customer reviews. Also respond to folks if they have complaints because we all know people are more likely to complain and celebrate online. So, I'm really glad you brought that up Mike. Customer reviews are a treasure trove for brands.

Melissa
Awesome. Well, with that, thanks everyone for joining us. Can't say enough about Mike and Steve. Great partners to work with and lots of Amazon knowledge as you can tell, and I hope you all have a great rest of the week and a great weekend. Thanks guys. Thanks for participating with us.