Amazon on Monday quietly launched a self-serve platform called Advertiser Audiences, which lets advertisers upload their audience lists and CRM information, enabling tactics like audience matching and lookalike modeling.
Advertiser Audiences is similar to solutions Facebook and Google released earlier, though Amazon’s tool has some key differences.
The biggest strength, said Wunderman North America Chief Strategy Officer Matt Tepper, is Amazon’s insight into the consumer path to purchase. The tool also provides access to Amazon’s long-coveted audience data.
“There’s no better platform that can engage consumers deep in consideration or already at the purchase phase [than Amazon],” he said. “Whereas Facebook is going to play a more critical role in creating awareness and consideration.”
Merkle Chief Media Officer Coleen Kuehn said the combination of consumer purchase and behavioral browsing data can fuel marketers’ ability to deliver more relevant ads and boost their return on ad spend across the funnel.
Advertiser Audiences also addresses two major complaints advertisers historically had with Amazon, said Rob Griffin, chief innovation officer for indie agency Almighty.
First, marketers can finally do audience extension off the Amazon platform through its self-serve platform.
The audience extension component lets advertisers build an audience segment based on Amazon data and target it elsewhere. However, Amazon’s audience segments are only available to advertisers placing buys directly with or through Amazon, and can’t be activated within third-party ad platforms.
It’s also important to note that advertisers who upload an audience list must either submit lists that have been previously hashed (anonymized) or use Amazon’s self-serve tool to hash those IDs directly within the browser.
And, similar to other walled-garden audience solutions, it’s data in – not out.
The second benefit is that advertisers finally get a self-serve offering from Amazon.
Typically, advertisers who wanted a custom model had to engage with Amazon’s managed services, which, according to Merkle’s Kuehn, sometimes requires more resources and time.
Despite the availability of a self-serve platform, however, advertisers who want to use it may experience a steep learning curve, since the system isn’t exactly a set-it-and-forget-it.
“Just because I can do it myself, it doesn’t mean I can do it well, [and] few [people] have real hands-on experience doing this,” Griffin said.
In other words, the system doesn’t run simply by turning on a switch. And advertisers without deep in-house expertise are unlikely to be able to efficiently operate Advertiser Audiences without assistance from an agency or programmatic consultancy.
In addition, not all data is available via self-serve, according to Kuehn, so certain data sets will require advertisers to work with Amazon managed services for access.
Yet, Kuehn and other agency execs agree that Amazon’s audience-matching system could reduce inefficiencies and improves media quality within the walled garden.
“What we are seeing is a major shift to audience-driven advertising, where brands start with the audience they want to impact and then find the right away to reach and motivate them – even within the walled gardens,” Tepper said.
In addition, Advertiser Audiences also helps streamline and simplify how advertisers onboard audience files. What would typically take “weeks to deliver and match audiences with Amazon, now may take a few hours,” according to Kuehn.
This improvement enables advertisers to update audiences more frequently, as well as encourages them to test multiple audience segments out, she added.
Amazon declined an interview for this story.