"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Kacie McKee, head of ecommerce at Wavemaker US.
Marketers may have missed the new features Amazon added to their site around the end of 2019 to help boost brands more organically. The latest push feels like an effort to combat competition from social commerce platforms and prove that it can be a discovery site as well as a shopping site.
While the new announcements are a departure from the purely transactional feel of Amazon, it forces brands to consider how the changes may affect the algorithm and flywheel effect they were just getting used to.
For many brands, the need to produce online content that is relevant, fresh and scalable continues to weigh heavily on P&Ls. While upper-funnel activities have always demanded thoughtful creative, the scale and size of the online ecosystem potentially triples creative and production costs for brands. This reality creates a content conundrum: To produce content that is all things to all channels is costly, but so too is failing to identify content-priority areas.
At the start, Amazon’s product pages, whether it was above-the-fold basic content or the more recently added A+ enhanced below-the-fold content, were designed to have a critical effect on a brand’s organic product ranking and sales. For the first time, traditional manufacturers had to consider how to take offline content and pivot to deliver the right content online – or possibly lose both sales and visibility.
As the Amazon model was adopted across the retail landscape, brands with large sets of SKUs listed online were put in a tough position and forced to make decisions about increasing budgets, internal or outsourced models, or opting to strategically deprioritize content against some SKUs.
As brands started to find a rhythm for product page development, retail shopper media and social commerce began to take off, forcing content to the top of brand’s strategic planning conversations once again. Which of these channels would deliver not only against key audiences, but would ultimately lead to conversions? How do brands develop content that is consistent and clearly demonstrates the brand ethos no matter where a shopper interacts?
Amazon’s new functionality mimics socially accepted engagement flows but takes it further by leveraging what Amazon does best and algorithmically tying it to brand share of voice on the site. If site conversions are linked to onsite visibility – and Amazon is changing how that visibility is won and layering content requirements on top – brands should be sitting up and paying attention.
Posts (posts.amazon.com), much like a Facebook post, will consist of curated content in a feed related to activities or moments that are associated with the brand. These posts can drive organic rank and visibility based on the “freshness” of the content. While the term freshness is conveniently vague, it’s safe to assume that some level of consistent updating is needed to fuel organic rank in the future.
Live Stream (Amazon.com/livestream) is currently an experimental play, free for any brand to participate. It aims to replicate the feel of “stories,” where brands or influencers can share live or taped video content, with which shoppers are free to interact. Placement is not guaranteed and based on engagement levels, pushing the content in the videos to be relevant in order to be successful.
The Follow button allows shoppers to follow brand stores, posts and livestream videos, like popular social platforms. If a shopper follows specific brands, the content would eventually become highly personalized to that shopper. This will open unique deals and advertising inventory for those brands with a large following and customized consumer experience.
Lastly, the effort to create successful interaction with Brand Stores continues. If consumers search a specific category and scroll to the bottom, they will see a widget that prompts them to search by brand. Clicking on it will take them straight to a brand page. A search by brand instead of category leads to a scroll to the bottom of the page that lets them search by product.
Brands ought to be seriously discussing content strategy and where it’s important to win. They would be well-served to build a long-term digital content strategy now, as Amazon and other players continue to evolve their offerings and play an even more essential role in their businesses.