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Interview

Interview: 2022 Cyber 5 Data Search Performance Deep Dive, with Nathan Rigby, Co-founder at Analytic Index

The Cyber 5 Online Shopping Season, from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, is a make-it-or break it moment for many brands, who put on their best show of organic and paid search strategy to capture shoppers before their competitors. How did y’all do this season? Here with the data from the top 2 of Amazon and Walmart is Nathan Rigby, Co-founder at Analytic Index. What happened? Who got it right? Who got it wrong? What does it all mean for next time? Rob Gonzalez and Peter Crosby dug deep into it with Nathan.

Transcript:

Peter Crosby:
Welcome to Unpacking the Digital Shelf, where we explore brand manufacturing in the digital age.
 
 
Hi everyone. Peter Crosby here from The Digital Shelf Institute. The Cyber 5 Online Shopping Season from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday is a make it or break it moment for many brands who put on their best show of organic and paid search strategy to capture shoppers before their competitors. How'd y'all do this season? Here with the data from the top two of Amazon and Walmart is Nathan Rigby, co-founder at Analytic Index. What happened? Who got it right? Who got it wrong? What does it all mean for the next time? Rob and I dug deep into it with Nathan.
 
 
Nathan, so delighted to have you back on the podcast. Trappings through your Analytic Index organic and paid search data is always super fun.
 
Nathan Rigby:
Well, it is great to be here with you both. I can't tell you how impressed I am by the audience you guys have built and the thought leadership you guys drive, so it's a pleasure to be a part of it.
 
Peter Crosby:
Thanks so much. We're having you on because this Cyber 5 season for brands at the big two, Amazon and Walmart, was particularly interesting. How did brands run ads and promotions this year? How did it compare to last year?
 
Nathan Rigby:
Yeah, so fascinating question. Obviously advertising has been on a locomotive engine full steam ahead, and so we saw a tremendous amount of growth across retail media and the different ad types that support retail media on both Amazon and Walmart. But the incubus of all of the holiday shopping season, particularly with Cyber 5, is promotions. Interestingly enough, we saw promotions even higher this year than last, particularly with the recessionary environment being considered. I think a lot of shoppers are very hungry for deals and so promotions this year were a lot higher than last year.
 
Rob Gonzalez:
How does that break down? If you look at the holiday shopping season seems to come earlier and earlier each year. I think there was Christmas decorations in the CVS next to me before Halloween had happened this year. But if you focus on the big weekend of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, is there a notable difference in terms of how the promotions were distributed across that weekend? Or are they normalizing throughout the whole weekend? What are you seeing there?
 
Nathan Rigby:
Yeah, good question. So yeah, we definitely saw a little bit of a variation in terms of Black Friday versus Cyber Monday. Our data shows the fact that across those two different areas you had different executions of the promotions. Now the real, well, I'll get into the breakup of Cyber Monday, but Black Friday, but the real call out is the difference between Amazon and Walmart. You look at the total number of promotions that occur on Amazon, it's a hundred X larger than the likes of Walmart. So to be able to see that many more promotions across the different departments becomes an incredibly important bellwether, in terms of the difference between Walmart and Amazon.
 
Peter Crosby:
When you look at these promotions and there's a hundred X difference between Amazon and Walmart, just for the audience, what specific promotions are you looking at on each site? Is this inclusive of search position ad spending? Or are you just looking at display, conquesting ads, stuff like that? Where's the balance of these things showing up?
 
Nathan Rigby:
So Rob, when we look at promotions, we're looking at any kind of discounted promoted element. For example, on Amazon, we're looking at lightning deals, deal of the day, coupons, anything that really substantiates out that trade spend and the support of the trade environment on Amazon.
 
 
Now on Walmart, we're looking at more things like rollback, or things that are promoted under the banner of a Prime Day deal or a Black Friday deal. So those are the ways that we identify the different types of promoted items on Amazon versus Walmart.
 
 
Now there's a separate section to that, like you identified, is the whole retail media environment, where you can then promote your item even if it's not discounted. There was a tremendous amount of growth in that particular medium as well, on both Amazon and Walmart.
 
Peter Crosby:
So Nathan, how did Amazon and Walmart's discount strategies compare this year?
 
Nathan Rigby:
Yeah, good question. Looking at the two of them, you have on Cyber 5, Black Friday saw fewer deals than Cyber Monday did across the two. And then in terms of the actual discounts on those, you see Amazon being about, let's see what the data here identifies, is most departments saw about 4 to 7% higher promotions on Cyber Monday. Then the discounts is that Amazon was 21% discounted versus traditional price, whereas Walmart was about 16% discount versus the traditional prices that they visualize.
 
 
So in terms of who won the discount war and the promoted space, Amazon completely overwhelm the market in terms of the number of items that were on promotion, as well as the discounts themselves being about five percentage points higher than Walmart was.
 
Rob Gonzalez:
Given that Amazon covers every single product category that there is as the everything store, does that Amazon crushing everybody, in terms of the sheer volume and amount of promotions, fall across product categories? Or are there specific departments and product categories that are getting even more attention promotion than others?
 
Nathan Rigby:
The primary areas that we saw the biggest discounts on Amazon were clothing and jewelry, sports and outdoors, and then, let's see here. So sports and outdoors saw about 25%, clothing and jewelry, 24% discount. You get, beauty and personal care saw 26% discount versus traditional amounts. So that's the three highlighted areas that I would say saw the most engagement this year, were definitely those three.
 
Peter Crosby:
Nathan, how did you see on their flagship products? Did you see any differences in how the retailers promoted those?
 
Nathan Rigby:
It's fascinating to look at the actual products in terms of what were the top performing products by retailer site. There was some very consistent areas, like the Apple AirPods 2nd generation was consistent as a top, both a top performing item on both Amazon and Walmart. They had like to like price points on both of the sites in terms of the promoted elements.
 
 
So you see that there was some consistency there, where you saw Amazon start to break out and becoming the predominant toy destination for the holiday. They had some great success with the LEGO Star Wars, the child building set. They had some great success in the video game space with Pokémon and the Nintendo Switch. And then they had some additional success in the beauty space with what I thought was one of the most impressive launches, is the Burt's Bees Christmas gifts. It was five stocking stuffer products, everyday essentials of lip balm, a deep cleansing cream, hand salve and body lotion and foot cream, all in travel size components that were built for a stocking stuffer. Once again, Amazon delivered on that in a way that it was one of its top 10 performing items across that Cyber 5 environment.
 
 
Now, one of the things that I wanted to call out on this particular thing is that, first of all, I think one of the highlights is, it's shocking to see that there's not been a tremendous amount of product innovation for this particular holiday season. If we're looking at Apple AirPods 2nd generation being the top performing items, it really speaks to the impact that COVID had on innovation and product development. A decade ago, Rob and I, I remember, talking about at a conference the rise of Instant Pot and the explosion of so many different product categories over the years, that this year's holiday season doesn't seem to reflect any real product innovation.
 
 
Then the second point that I wanted to call out on this particular area is going to that Burt's Bees, is that the Clorox Company did an amazing job making that into a unique item for stocking stuffers on Amazon. But then that same product, while available on Walmart, did not deliver any element of similar success across search or sales. So it speaks to the segmentation of many of these e-commerce channels that may be really well attuned to be able to drive Amazon, but are not delivering the same type of success in the Walmart or Target or Kroger environments. So two talking points that I think were real high for those top performing items on both Amazon and Walmart.
 
Rob Gonzalez:
Yeah, it's interesting. When you look at the hot new item, hot new product category, I hadn't thought about that until just now, but my shopping list for this year does not really have anything that is new this year. I think the newest thing I've got on there is from Meter, it's like that Bluetooth enabled meat thermometer. But that's been around for a few years now.
 
Peter Crosby:
Mm-hmm. Am I right in guessing that the oldest one is the Agatha Christie Christmas mystery?
 
Rob Gonzalez:
Oh, yeah. Well, I am reading The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, which is a set of Christmas short stories from Agatha Christie, and it is absolutely fabulous. Should go on everybody's Christmas list.
 
Peter Crosby:
There you go, audience.
 
Rob Gonzalez:
We've looked at the specific products and categories that are doing well. How about the brands? If you look at the promotions and you look at sales through the different platforms, what are the brands that seem to be taking off ahead so far this year?
 
Nathan Rigby:
Yeah. This is an area that we see that goes hand in glove with some of the promoted elements of Cyber Monday and Black Friday. Really strong brands like Apple and LEGO and Nintendo and BISSELL, they do have both sponsored advertisements as well as promoted elements to their products. But the discount amount is not nearly the size or the large S that other brands have to compete with.
 
 
So really well executed brands, like I mentioned earlier, of Apple and Barbie and Nintendo and Microsoft, have all been able to really be able to succeed both in the Amazon and Walmart ecosystem. Where I would say is that Walmart lends itself really well to established enterprise level brands. The clear connection with their omnichannel and brick and mortar environments is an obvious reason why those types of brands are able to scale and really expand their digital offering and success in that Walmart ecosystem.
 
 
Where it's fascinating to see is what brands are missing from some of these different areas that you and I would both naturally think that they would be an obvious win, but at the same time, for whatever reason, weren't able to be able to deliver on the success of Cyber Monday and Black Friday on either of Walmart or Target. So we could jump into some of those, but it's a fascinating play.
 
 
Then the last part that I would say, in terms of which brands are succeeding, is to see how Amazon and Walmart private brands execute their holiday strategies. They're very different, with Amazon leading heavily into its electronics, whereas Walmart leans heavily into its home and furniture offerings, in terms of the way that they discount and provide really compelling offers to be able to drive the mindshare of shoppers during this timeframe.
 
Peter Crosby:
Nathan, when you take all of this data and you're stepping back, for our audience that wants to be able to read the tea leaves in between all this data and plan their next commerce season event, what are some big takeaways that, if you were sitting in our listeners' chairs, how would you shift your organic and paid strategies?
 
Nathan Rigby:
Yeah. I always believe the idea of the NBC when I was a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons, is that star comes across and the more you know became an anthem to all of us young kids growing up in the '80s and '90s. I think that's the same in this e-commerce environment. The more you know about yourself and your competitors in your category, the better, more efficient and effective you will be at being able to deploy strategic assortment, pricing, promotions, organic search performance, and then retail media effectiveness on both Amazon and Walmart and Target, and any other e-commerce platform. So I'm a strong advocate of being able to be able to understand where you're at and where you're going. And if you don't know where those two foundations are, then that's the primary place to start. What are the items that you perform best on and why? What are the organic terms that drove your success?
 
 
Going back to that Burt's Bees example, on Amazon, they were indexing for over 600 organic keyword terms for that particular item that then they promoted several more across their retail media spend in that capacity. But then on Walmart, they were only indexing for one item in that particular environment.
 
 
So it really speaks to being able to be able to get all of the basics of what are the right keyword terms that you should be promoting? How do you optimize those organically? Which ones do you choose to promote in a retail media environment? And then the next step is, particularly with what 2023 will represent with the economic environment, is how do you leverage retail media in conjunction with promotions to be able to drive that mindshare and then translate that into a broader appeal for your search performance on not only individual items, but the larger brand that you manage across the different categories and keyword terms that you're foundationally needed to win on?
 
 
So those are some of the things that I believe are the top of mind is, first of all, knowing your data better than your competitors, and then being able to leverage the right types of keyword terms by retailer, by category, by item, and then leveraging your organic and paid media to drive those in an incremental fashion. And then last but not least, is being able to measure and track your promotional effectiveness so that you can drive increased traffic visibility across individual items and the larger brand portfolio of products.
 
Peter Crosby:
It really does seem like some of the investment opportunities, as the retailers might call it for brands these days, can build a stronger program that's working more intensely together than maybe what you were able to do prior. Does that make sense? Does that resonate with you?
 
Nathan Rigby:
Yeah. Yeah, I think that, kudos to the retail media, the retailers themselves, that they are providing more leverage to pull, as well as data. It might be on a drip, where we're all wanting it on a flow, but that is an important way of being able to differentiate how you can compete, particularly with third-party players, as well as your competitive enterprise brands. I believe that that data position and the leverage you can pull through data then become the way that you can win in 2023.
 
Peter Crosby:
Well, Nathan, thank you so much for pulling this data out of your vault so quickly and sharing it with our audience. We really appreciate it.
 
Nathan Rigby:
Well, Peter, I would say if anyone in your audience would like to be able to dive down into the specifics of their brand, their category, their keyword terms, we are happy to provide free access into the platform to get that data as it relates to Cyber Monday and Black Friday. We are very much focused on being able to provide the best data to make the best decisions possible across retailers throughout the world. So if anyone listening to this podcast wants to get into the details of their brand, please don't hesitate to refer them to our website, or have them reach out to me via LinkedIn, and we'll get that data for them.
 
Peter Crosby:
That's really generous, Nathan. Thank you so much. We really appreciate it.
 
Nathan Rigby:
Well, I appreciate the time and the opportunity to share the highlights of Cyber 5.
 
Peter Crosby:
Thanks again to Nathan for all the info. Keep up to date with everything we've got going on by becoming a member at digitalshelfinstitute.org. Thanks for being part of our community.