Your Quick Hit Playbook for the Holidays on Amazon

If there’s a season that keeps marketers up at night long before it even begins, it is, without a doubt, Holiday. Achieving holiday season success begins by being the best marketer you can be, today (And by today, we actually mean, weeks ago!). It also means having a complete view of opportunities across your channels, and planning for the nuances of each customer expectation and experience through every single one. This year, we expect that many brands and marketers will have an increased focus on Amazon – on its dynamic advertising ecosystem, and on the platform as a whole.

There’s a lot to stay aware of, particularly as it becomes more and more challenging to compete against the dominance of Amazon’s private label brands and other sellers on the platform. But, we heard it best at Advertising Week this week from Christy Kazlo, head of Data Strategy & Activation at Conagra,

“We just have to be there.”

And that’s true for a lot of brands and retailers this season.

Here are some of our top tips and strategic recommendations for those gearing up their programs on Amazon for Holiday 2018:

  1. Get Your Amazon Advertising Program in Gear – Product Promotion + ‘Always-On’ Thinking

As a preface, Amazon recently consolidated its three separate advertising services, AMS, AMG and AAP under one roof, now widely known as Amazon Advertising. With that consolidation, Amazon Advertising now houses all of its ad products, including: Amazon DSP, video ads, display ads, stores, Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands (formerly Headline Search Ads) and measurement solutions.

When it comes to thinking about your holiday advertising program, it’s crucial to identify what items you’re going to be promoting early on, especially if you’re a brand with a large assortment of product. The competition on popular high traffic keywords is going to be heavy in Q4, so consider mixing in low-traffic keywords that may not have as much competition for bids. What’s important here is to consider how your potential customers are going to be searching for, and discovering your products – in simpler terms, are you getting in front of the right shoppers whose searches are a great match for your product?

During Holiday, you’ll want to maintain always-on campaigns; meaning, you should have campaigns running all day, every day throughout the season. There won’t be any lack of customers, so if you have the capacity and opportunity to juice up your budgets, now is the time to do so! At a minimum, ensure that you have an ad running every day, so you can avoid missing an opportunity when a customer is ready and willing to shop. If you’re running Sponsored Brand Ads, you’ll want to have alternative copy at the ready that’s in sync with your holiday offers, like “Holiday savings on X item.”

Holiday may also be the optimal time to evaluate Amazon’s DSP for exclusive offerings, particularly as it allows brands to reach shoppers across Amazon platforms, in addition to the web and in mobile apps. Do you have an exclusive SKU, limited edition or value deal that’s only available during the holidays? Consider using that in your creative, and expand your reach to consumers at different levels of engagement with your brand. You may also consider leveraging Display retargeting through the DSP. Shopping during Holiday is a 24/7 activity for consumers, which makes the case for looking at the Amazon DSP even stronger.

  1. Get (And Stay!) Laser-Focused on Categories

Amazon has endless digital aisles, and the competition has only grown over the last year, across brands, third party sellers and, especially, Amazon private label brands. While it’s a highly competitive ecosystem, there is also huge opportunity to reach consumers shopping across multiple categories. For instance, consider positioning yourself against companion items with cross-category marketing, which could give you more visibility to shoppers who may not immediately notice your product in a crowded category.

  1. Gift Wrap Ready (Digital Shelf Excellence)

Are you taking advantage of every piece of real estate on your product detail pages? Amazon has shared at past events and in conversations that Product Detail Pages (PDPs) should enable customers to add-to-cart without having to read anything. Meaning, the shopper should be able to be converted just by looking at the creative and the quantity and quality of reviews. To make this happen, here’s a mini checklist of what to have:

  • Accurate title that’s optimized for search.
  • Good images: They should be a combination of products shots, “call-out” images of features and product usage/lifestyle shots.
  • Customer reviews and star ratings of 3.5+: Quantity and Quality matter.
  • Product is always in stock and your brand is winning the BuyBox.
  • A+ content: This is where you should be over-telling why you’re better than the rest. Make sure that your content is clearly sharing your value prop.
  1. Keep an Eye on Santa’s New Helper: Alexa

Amazon has been steadily ramping up Alexa products all year, including smart clocks, microwaves, plugs, subwoofers and more. And, you can bet that Amazon is going to be doing a lot of heavy promotion of Voice before, and throughout the entire holiday season. While Voice has been all the rage in the industry, brands should be watching how their customers are (or aren’t) using voice devices to assist in their shopping experiences. At the end of the day, it’s not about statistics – it’s about real consumer behavior. If adoption is showing, you may consider building skills on Alexa that will make it easier for customers to interact with your brand and discover your product this season.

  1. Look at Video for Brand Storytelling Opportunities

Amazon has been testing video ads in mobile search results since Q2 of this year, and we anticipate that this will be rolling out more widely to the market prior to the peek holiday season. While we know Amazon is incredibly strong for product search and discovery, it has also been substantially building up its content and brand experience chops, and this includes video ads. Particularly on a mobile device, where consumers are typically in a less transactional mindset, video can become crucial to getting your customer engaged, and in some cases, guiding the purchase journey from the mobile device to desktop.

As we jump into Holiday, we’ll be keeping clients aware of all the most important opportunities on Amazon this year. Stay tuned, happy Holiday (and don’t have too many nightmares)!

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