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Full Funnel Advertising for All

23 May 2024

By Corey Buller & Jordan Sagisi, Mars United℠ Commerce

Investments in content, ad tech, and data have not only made Amazon the retail media network to beat in 2024, they may have even put the ecommerce giant into the conversation as the linear or digital video network to beat as well.

What is an Upfront and why did Amazon have one?

Historically, Upfronts were a time when advertising executives could meet with TV network executives to lock in massive ad deals and negotiate exclusive integrations into TV’s hottest programming. As consumer attention moved to digital platforms, online behemoths like YouTube, Meredith, and Hulu launched Digital NewFronts to position themselves similarly to their TV network counterparts. In 2021, with its focus on the Prime Video entertainment platform growing, Amazon launched its first NewFront to announce the company’s big bets in data and digital advertising.

This year, Amazon assertively rebranded the event as an Upfront. With its 2022 acquisition of entertainment studio MGM, the launch of Amazon Prime Video Ads earlier this year, and an average monthly reach of 175 million, the company has become a major force in the entertainment and advertising industries and is positioning itself to gain a substantial share of TV ad dollars as the first, truly full-funnel ad platform.

Held on May 14, the Amazon Upfront featured a variety of announcements while focusing on three key themes:

1. Content, Star Power, and Fandom

Amazon is investing more than ever in its universe of content and relying heavily on the established fandoms for the NFL/Thursday Night Football; NASCAR; video gaming; entertainment franchises like Alex Cross, Tomb Raider, The Lord of the Rings; and big-name stars like Will Ferrell and Reese Witherspoon to drive viewership and engagement, especially among younger consumers.

Tapping into the existing popularity of entertainment franchises or celebrities gives advertisers opportunities to interact with their fandoms and engage with the digitally savvy Millennial and Gen Z shoppers they all crave.

Amazon is also expanding its lineup of Spanish-language content on the Fire TV Channels: En Español app, offering news, entertainment programming, and coverage of Latino culture. This push into Spanish-language solutions aligns with the performance Amazon has previously enjoyed when targeting Spanish-speaking shoppers, along with the demand from advertisers to reach this highly valued demographic.

2. Evolving the Shoppable Living Room

Amazon is pioneering the “C2C,” or “content to commerce,” landscape with three new ad experiences on Prime Video and one on Amazon Live:

Shoppable carousel ads on Prime Video overlay a browsable menu of the advertised brand’s products that can be added directly to the viewer’s Amazon shopping cart right on the screen.

Interactive pause ads on Prime Video improve the ones available on the Peacock streaming platform by overlaying call-to-action buttons to let viewers add products to their Amazon cart or have information sent to an email to further brand engagement.

Interactive brand trivia ads on Prime Video elevate a brand’s storytelling by entertaining viewers with factoids. These ads push the boundaries set by Hulu’s “Choose Your Ads” product by creating an entertaining reason to interact with the ads and potentially drive more add-to-carts.

The Amazon Live channel extends social shopping to the living room à la QVC or HSN. U.S. consumers can “shop the show” while watching on mobile devices alongside their favorite content personalities.

3. AMC as the Ultimate Clean Room

Amazon Marketing Cloud, which has been touted as one of the strongest, most robust data sets for marketers to utilize, is now opening its doors to become the clean room for all brands — large or small, endemic to Amazon or not. Brands like Progressive, GM, and Fidelity can marry their data with Amazon’s to identify growth and loyal audiences and reach them across its growing media landscape.

GM or Progressive, for example, could discover audiences that would be receptive to personalized messages based on the brand and type of automotive parts they buy; Fidelity could deliver high-yield savings messaging to shoppers who predominantly buy on discount.

“It doesn’t matter whether you sell on Amazon or not,” Alan Moss, Vice President of Global Ad Sales at Amazon Ads (at left), told the Upfront audience. “With our clean rooms and other leading ad tech, we can help all advertisers connect awareness and brand objectives directly to sales outcomes and category growth.”

Implications/How to Prepare

1. Brands can no longer think in “media” and “shopper” silos. To win now, they must think in terms of united commerce, taking a full-funnel approach that aligns national and retailer activities at every point possible. Amazon’s newest capabilities for the living room create down-funnel opportunities where good options were not previously available. No advertising should have a dead end; every single activity should lead to the next phase in the shopper journey.

2. Amazon must be strongly considered as part of a brand’s video strategy. With almost 200 million unique monthly viewers (who are mostly “cord cutters”), a growing library of top-rated content, and the ability to drive viewers directly to purchase, Amazon’s importance to a national media mix now rivals any major broadcast television network.

3. Every brand has a reason to work with Amazon. Amazon Marketing Cloud has already provided a wealth of information for endemic advertisers through detailed measurement and sophisticated audience targeting. These prized tools are now available to any brand with first-party data. And all brands now have something to learn.

About the Authors

Corey Buller is Enterprise Media Lead at Mars United℠, where he works across retailer teams to integrate full-funnel media strategies, align measurement frameworks, and uncover the shopper truths hidden in retail media data. In his 12-year career, he has created hundreds of awareness and commerce-driving media plans for many leading food & beverage marketers.

Senior Director of Amazon Commerce Jordan Sagisi helps brands create winning strategies and activations across the Amazon media ecosystem. He has more than 15 years of experience in the digital media industry, leading agency teams in delivering both brand-building and commerce-driving objectives for CPG clients.

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