Amazon Tests Search-Based Retargeting, The First Time Its Search Data Leaves Its Walls

Amazon is testing a program that lets advertisers use search queries to retarget across the web, according to agency executives briefed about the pilot program.

This capability is only available through Amazon’s DSP and it is the first time that Amazon search data is being used off of Amazon’s owned and operated platform.

While Amazon already enabled advertisers to retarget shoppers who had viewed product pages or made a purchase, search-based retargeting lets advertisers capture intent.

Amazon did not respond to request for comment.

“It’s a natural next step from sponsored product listing ads and standard retargeting, but it’s an important step because it shows Amazon is combining its media and data assets more effectively within the DSP,” said one search agency executive briefed on the search-based retargeting test.

Google’s search data, for instance, can influence targeting on YouTube, Gmail and its display ad network partners, the executive said.

Amazon’s search-based retargeting is currently more limited because it tightly controls the campaign parameters.

But eventually, advertisers could have search data fluidly available to self-serve advertisers within the DSP, said another search agency exec approached about the product. The agency chose not to participate in the pilot stage because it can’t apply site blacklists or evaluate inventory for brand safety issues.

“We decided to hold off until we’re able to apply our own DSP controls, but it’s exciting progress,” he said.

This is an opportune time for Amazon to launch new DSP products and up its competition with Google and Facebook, said Cooper Smith, director of market research firm L2’s Amazon practice.

“The backlash around brand safety on all the other social and search channels has impacted brand equity for that media,” Smith said. “We talk to brand marketers who because of that are moving budgets down the funnel and Amazon is the main beneficiary.”

Applying search data for off-platform campaigns shows how much Amazon’s advertising ambitions are reshaping its data policies, he said. Historically, Amazon silos the unique data from its search and Prime groups, such that marketers can’t use data from search and Prime to enhance Amazon brand campaigns.

But Amazon is one of the biggest search advertisers on Google, so the ad tech group fully understands the value of search data, Smith said.

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