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    June 3, 2024

    Ross Walker of Acadia: How To Boost Campaign Performance and Profitability With Amazon Marketing Cloud

    Written by: Satta Sarmah Hightower
    "It's super valuable because a lot of it is net new data that helps us make tactical decisions that can improve our performance today." — Ross Walker, Retailer Marketplaces Paid Media Team Lead, Acadia

    Amazon is a fiercely competitive marketplace for brands. In 2023 alone, Capital One Shopping Research reports that Amazon had more than 600 million products for sale.

    In the battle to engage and convert consumers, data is the most critical asset brands can leverage to win on Amazon. But customer data hasn’t always been easy to activate within Amazon's walled garden. That may change now as more brands start capitalizing on Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC).

    Ross Walker, retailer marketplaces paid media team lead at Acadia, a digital agency specializing in retail media and marketplaces, says Amazon Marketing Cloud could help brands boost campaign performance on Amazon — as long as they’re savvy about how they deploy the data the tool provides.

    Walker joined a recent episode of the "Unpacking the Digital Shelf" podcast, "Wringing Performance out of Amazon Marketing Cloud," to share strategies for how brands can effectively harness this valuable source of customer data to improve business outcomes.

    Amazon Marketing Cloud: A New Way To Activate Your Data

    Amazon Marketing Cloud, which launched in 2021, is a secure, cloud-based cleanroom solution that provides holistic advertising insights to sellers on Amazon.

    Brands can use Amazon Marketing Cloud to:

    • Run custom queries related to their Amazon marketing activity;
    • Create custom and look-a-like audiences; and
    • Access cross-media insights that provide more customer journey visibility.  

    Walker says Amazon Marketing Cloud allows brands to access a wealth of customer data that was previously inaccessible within Amazon’s platform.

    "It's an open database," he says. "It's a place where you can ask Amazon questions about the data of your account and complex questions — questions that we haven't been able to ask before — about how your advertising efforts for sponsored products interact with your advertising efforts for DSP [demand-side platform] and programmatic, about how your streaming TV investment later impacts your sponsored product investment."

    "There's a lot of really cool data that's now available to us that never was before."      — Ross Walker, Retailer Marketplaces Paid Media Team Lead, Acadia

    Walker admits it can be both simple and complex to use Amazon Marketing Cloud. While users who can write Structured Query Language (SQL) code to create their queries can get a lot out of the Amazon Marketing Cloud, Amazon also provides a set of templated queries any brand can use to access insights about their advertising performance.

    Amazon is gradually removing human touch points and instead plans to rely on artificial intelligence (AI)-driven automation to provide customer service to sellers. Therefore, brands now have the sole responsibility for managing their growth on the platform.

    The good news, Walker says, is that there are several ways brands can capitalize on Amazon Marketing Cloud to grow their market share and profitability. 

    5 Ways To Use Amazon Marketing Cloud to Your Advantage

    During his podcast appearance, Walker listed five ways brands can use Amazon Marketing Cloud.

    1. Understand Campaign Performance Drivers

    Walker says Amazon Marketing Cloud allows brands to see how investments in one area of their business have a waterfall effect on the performance of other campaigns. For example, ecommerce managers can better understand how spending more on their DSP campaigns affect the performance of their sponsored content campaigns.

    "There's something for the executive that wants to understand which of their products are driving the most new-to-brand customers, so we know where to invest in new product development in the future," Walker says.

    "There's a set of queries that are really great for telling you which of your campaigns are the ones that are helping to drive final conversion and what the path to conversion looks like for your ecommerce manager, so they know where to invest their budget in different tactics," he adds.

    2. Build Custom Audiences

    Brands also can use Amazon Marketing Cloud to build custom audience segments, such as customers who were exposed to a specific campaign but didn’t convert. Brands then can take these audience segments and create follow-up campaigns to move them further down the funnel.

    Walker says this tactic has been really useful for upper-funnel campaigns on streaming TV.

    "For someone who's watching something on their connected TV and they get served a streaming ad, I can now retarget that whole group of people who saw my video ad with a more ecommerce-focused ad," he says. "Those have been really impactful in increasing the ROAS [return on ad spend] of our overall marketing."

    3. Upsell Customers

    Amazon Marketing Cloud provides a range of analytics that enable brands to better understand consumer behavior. Walker says one of the most valuable is the “Ace and Overlap Report for Upselling.” The report gives brands insight into the likelihood a customer will purchase other specific products in their catalog based on their initial purchase.

    "Say you have 20 different products that you're selling — it will tell you after someone buys your hero product, 10% of them are very likely to buy this other product in the assortment, and 2% of them are likely to buy a third product in your assortment," he says. "If I know that data, then I can calculate really clearly what the future total growth of the account could be if we sell more of the first product."

    Acadia has used this data to help its clients create virtual bundles and product assortments that customers are more likely to buy. Other brands can use Amazon Marketing Cloud in similar ways to more effectively market their products and upsell customers.

    4. Get More Out of Amazon DSP

    Amazon Marketing Cloud is essentially a customer data analytics service, while Amazon DSP allows brands to buy display, audio, and video ads and effectively target customers.

    However, brands can leverage Amazon Marketing Cloud to make better use of Amazon DSP. They can upload their own CRM data into Amazon Marketing Cloud. Amazon then anonymizes it to provide more visibility into each audience segment's path to purchase. More importantly, Amazon does all this securely without sharing or compromising each advertiser’s proprietary customer data.

    "It does that with its own databases — [with] its own data about DSP and PPC and Amazon attribution. It pulls all of that [data] and anonymously will tell you this number of users do this action, but not who those users are. It can do the same thing with your own CRM data, as well," Walker says. 

    Brands also can use Amazon Marketing Cloud to understand what time of day consumers convert best or what time of day their ROAS is best. Amazon has unveiled new dayparting features for sponsored ads, so brands can drive better performance for these campaigns with this information.

    5. Better Understand New Customers

    Amazon Marketing Cloud allows brands to understand how some of their current Amazon marketing efforts are performing from a new-to-brand perspective.

    Amazon considers someone who hasn't purchased from the brand in the last 12 months as new-to-brand. Walker says Amazon only previously provided new-to-brand metrics for sponsored brands and sponsored display ads, which only account for 20% of a brand’s Amazon ad investments. However, Amazon has now expanded this metric to search ads, giving brands more insight into how effective this ad type is for driving customer acquisition.

    "I can take a brand that's been spending very little money on a certain campaign type or using keywords that don't perform super well from an ACOS [advertising cost of sales] or ROAS perspective, and I can show them that most of their new-to- brand customers are being driven by this campaign. We can scale it up and see great impact to the revenue of their [Amazon] account," Walker says. 

    Capitalizing on Amazon Marketing Cloud

    To maximize the value of Amazon Marketing Cloud, brands must invest in building their internal capabilities to better understand the unique data the solution provides and how they can set up queries to ask the right marketing questions.

    Walker says some critical initial monthly queries brands can run include tracking the customer path to purchase, new-to-brand metrics for campaigns, and the top products that drive new customer acquisition. He adds that brands can either build these capabilities in-house or lean on their agency partner(s) to keep up to date on what new data and queries are available within Amazon Marketing Cloud.

    "If you're not doing those things, it's likely you're leaving either low-hanging fruit on the table or some great opportunities on the table because those are not hard insights to get at," Walker says. "They're not hard insights to understand and they should just be part of your regular monthly review of your account. So, I would say you've got to have a partner or someone in-house who can do that to make 2024 a great year."

    To hear more of Walker’s insights on Amazon Marketing Cloud, listen to the full episode.