Amazon Creates Gap In Marketers’ Data Flow Plans

joannaoconnelrevised“Marketer’s Note” is a weekly column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. It is written by Joanna O’Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger Research.  

Amazon’s earnings call late last week held no major surprises, but neither did we in the advertising world hear much about what we’re really interested in: Amazon’s digital advertising and data business.

In my assessment, Amazon is taking a “master of our own domain” approach, which – as someone who writes for marketers – I find both admirable and frustrating.

Amazon’s approach is admirable because it points to the company’s strong (and well placed) belief in the value of its own data and audiences. In an era where, increasingly, publishers are coming to recognize that they must be ACTIVE participants in the management of their own data (lest someone else profit on the backs of their data assets), Amazon took the conservative – but understandable – position that no one controls Amazon’s data but Amazon. No DMPs, no DSPs, no ad networks. Nobody.  (Though does anyone remember the Amazon/Triggit pairing of a couple years ago? A loud bang, then silence.) Marketers and agencies looking for access to those users and audience segments have to work directly with Amazon to get them, whether we’re talking within Amazon’s environments or elsewhere (read: Facebook).

Now here’s where it gets frustrating. We know that the future of marketing is going to be about connected, 1:1 experiences with consumers – the drumbeat in support of that thinking is getting louder and louder. But, as much as no one likes to talk about the unglamorous stuff – this requires that the web of technologies collecting, processing, segmenting and taking action on data (think DMPs, DSPs and ad servers, mobile platforms, on site targeting engines, email systems, call centers, in-store check out systems) are all interconnected.  Right now, it strikes me that Amazon is choosing to sit outside of that web of interconnected systems – an Amazon island of data – which creates a big gap in a marketer’s data flow construction plans.

Today, Amazon benefits from the market’s general lack of progress in constructing such technology frameworks.  Yes, Amazon brings an enormous amount of opportunity to the table (think of the cross device targeting they can do!), but it’s playing the game it wants to play.

My advice for marketers: if you’re currently working with, or considering working with, Amazon – go in with some thinking already done on your holistic data management strategy.  I suspect you have more power to influence the direction the market takes than you think.

Please, marketing community, if you know something about this that I don’t, or have comments or stories to share on your experiences with Amazon, let me know!  I’d love to hear from you.


Follow Joanna O’Connell (@joannaoconnell ) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter. 

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