Ecommerce holiday sales struggleAs we enter the new year and begin to analyze the 2016 holiday season, many of us are in a perplexed state as we read the headlines.  Sales are up, stores are closing?

According to Slice Intelligence, online sales grew by 20% as compared to 2015 and naturally Amazon dominated the ecommerce landscape. The headline from our friends over at Marketing Land sums it up best, “Amazon made 10x more money than any other e-commerce site during 2016 holidays.”

Amazon Made 10x More Money

Online Holiday market share

If that isn’t enough to convince you now is the time to invest a portion of your marketing dollars to test this platform, let us share a 2016 client holiday success. From Black Friday through the New Year we helped a retail client launch a test to market products through Seller Central. The client is established in Amazon through vendor central, but wasn’t engaged as a seller on their marketing platform. At the end of the holiday season we reported Amazon producing sales at ~130% less cost than the average of all other platforms, including Google, Bing, and Facebook.

Amazon published a clever press release on December 27th that gives us even more reason to raise an eyebrow and our marketing budgets.  A few points of interest are as follows:Hanapin team Christmas photo

  • More than 1 billion purchases were fulfilled by Amazon this holiday season
  • Upwards of 72% shopped from a mobile device
  • The use of the Amazon app to make purchases increased by 56%
  • Enough ugly Christmas sweaters were purchased on Amazon for every seat at all three NCAA College Football Playoff games (we’re pretty sure more than 1 Hanapin employee contributed to this fun fact).

What Does Amazon Marketing Services Offer?

First and foremost they offer you access to their 144 million shoppers, but they also offer a variety of ways to reach those customers.

  • Sponsored Products – Target by keyword appears below search results
  • Headline Search Ads – Target by keyword appears above search results
  • Product Display Ads – Target by competitive or similar products or by interest and appears on product detail pages

Sponsored Products

Sponsored product ads
Display your ads to shoppers on search results using keyword targeting and product detail pages. This method offers an automatic and manual keyword target selection.  This type of advertising also offers the option to take advantage of Amazon’s Bid+ feature that increases the likelihood your ads will show at the top of search results by increasing the default bid by up to 50%.

Headline Search Ads

Keyword targeted headline search ads
As mentioned above, these are keyword-targeted ads that appear above search results. What sets headline ads apart from sponsored or product display ads is the ability to showcase multiple products within one ad, as well as customize the creative.  This ad type uses an auction-based pricing model and runs continuously.

Product Display Ads

Product display ads for upselling and cross selling
This method is perfect for up-selling and cross-selling appearing on detail pages of similar products.  These ads appear in categories or interest groups you select and run across desktop and mobile detail pages. Ads run on a cost per click model and allow for creative customization of headlines.  Amazon also offers coupon and vendor power coupons as a way to advertise your unique selling position to potential new customers.

Amazon Is Enhancing The Marketer’s Toolbox

So you tried Amazon and it just didn’t offer what you needed?  That was the claim we heard from the client above who racked up a few holiday sales at ~130% less cost than the average of all other platforms, including Google, Bing, and Facebook.

Gearing up for the holiday rush we noticed Amazon quietly rolled out a better UI experience for marketers. They also slipped in a nice add-on, Enhanced Brand Content, which is leveling the field for 3rd party sellers.  The EBC tool is available in Seller Central and allows marketers to add images, paragraphs, headers, bolded text, italic text, and bullets to product description, creating ads that look similar to Amazon’s own product listings.

Amazon Marketing Services Is Worth A Test

Now is the time to consider partnering with Amazon to advertise on their marketing services platform. Between the volume of product moved this 2016 holiday season to their domination year over year among ecommerce sites, it’s become difficult to ignore the continued success of this platform. Stay tuned as we continue this series and dive deeper into how to set up ads, differences between vendor and seller central, and what’s up with the buy box.