DMEXCO: ‘Customers Don’t Get Excited About Ad Products, They Get Excited About Experiences’

DanWrightAn emerging theme at the Digital Marketing Exposition & Conference (DMEXCO) in Cologne, Germany – where 30,000 digital marketers are convening – is building for future cross-channel experiences.

Amazon is no stranger to the concept. Although the ecommerce giant has, of late, been reportedly developing an ad platform to rival Google’s, the company maintains a maniacal focus on its shopper experience.

“When you think about all of the different points at which Amazon engages with customers – from sites to devices to delivery – the ways in which we can integrate advertisers across those touch points can take many different forms,” said Dan Wright, director of Amazon Media Group, Europe.

Ad formats that provide a call to action in the form of an actual utility, such as “add to wish list” or “subscribe and save,” perform on average 20-30% better than standard banners on Amazon.

Wright expanded on Amazon Media Group’s priorities for marketers globally.

AdExchanger: Gearing up for DMEXCO 2014, what has been the top priority for marketers and brand advertisers in EMEA?

DAN WRIGHT: This year, there’s been a lot of discussion about “disruption,” “cutting through the clutter” – here at DMEXCO the theme is “Entering New Dimensions.” Digital is an extremely dynamic space. But marketers’ fundamental goals are fairly constant. They want to drive meaningful, actionable customer engagements that foster enduring relationships with their brands. At Amazon, we believe the best way to do that is through great customer experiences. So that’s where we focus with our advertisers.

Which Amazon formats are getting the most traction?

We’ve seen great growth in adoption of our Ecommerce Ads. These units have Amazon shopping features embedded within IAB standard banners. We started with options like “add to cart” buttons and customer reviews, and have since significantly expanded that selection – both through adding more feature options and focusing on global parity. Today, our EU advertisers can integrate features like “add to wish list” and “subscribe and save” buttons, customer ratings and reviews, video or combinations of these. On average, we see Ecommerce Ads perform 20 to 30% better than standard ad units across key metrics, which tells us they’re driving value for both customers and advertisers. Last year, the number of advertisers choosing to use Ecommerce Ad units vs. standard banners for their Q4 Amazon campaigns was up more than 400% year on year worldwide.

Finally, I mentioned global parity. That’s also very important. We’re a global platform, and we work with several global brands.  So driving scale and product parity in every country we serve is a priority.

Amazon said video would be an emphasis at last year’s show – with the roll-out of the Fire Phone and Amazon’s acquisition of Twitch. What’s been most compelling to you on the ad product side?

We’re willing to experiment and learn, so we love it when marketers are passionate about exploring these “first-time” opportunities. We’ve had some very successful programs result from marketers expanding their view of how to leverage our ecommerce platform, be it in ways that are big and “impactful,” or small and simple.

From an ad strategy perspective, how are you prioritizing cross-screen media vs. ecommerce?

We prioritize customer experience. We start with the customer in everything we do – whether it’s retail, devices, content or advertising. Customer focus drives our advertising strategy, and that means we often approach things differently. Customers don’t get excited about ad products – they get excited about great experiences. So we don’t think about where or how we can put an ad on a page or device; we think about where and how we can work with advertisers to delight our retail customers. And in doing that, we also drive better results for our advertisers.

What is the future of cross-screen advertising? Will broadcasters and publishers own the pipes (much like Comcast/FreeWheel)? 

I wouldn’t want to speculate. Again, this is a very dynamic space and it’s still early days. From Amazon’s perspective, I can say generally that customers don’t have a device strategy – they have shopping (or viewing) strategy. They use devices interchangeably based on what’s most convenient for them at the time. So we encourage our advertisers to think the same way – to think about creating holistic experiences and campaigns vs. device-specific programs.

Many have drawn comparisons between Amazon and Google in your build-out of an ad network, Sponsored Links, etc. Although Amazon already developed AAP, a self-serve platform, what do your developments of late say about Amazon’s advertising purview?

We have a long-standing practice on not commenting on speculation about future plans. I can tell you we’re excited about how our business has evolved, and we think there’s still a ton of room for innovation in digital. Our goal is to always bridge between customer and advertiser experiences; we want to be the most effective platform for our advertisers, through programs that delight our retail customers and make display advertising something that truly adds to the online experience.

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