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THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

UnBoxed 2023 Recap: Amazon Unwraps More Ad Power

6 Nov 2023

The Mars Agency’s Ecommerce team provides key takeaways and advertising tips from Amazon Ads’ blockbuster event.

If you’ve never heard of unBoxed, there’s a good chance you don’t work with Amazon Ads. If you have heard of unBoxed, there’s a good chance you either attended the event in New York last month or you’re now trying to catch up on all the news that you missed.

For the uninitiated out there, unBoxed is the annual conference that Amazon Ads hosts for advertising clients and ad tech partners. The company uses the forum to unveil the new ad solutions and innovations it will roll out over the coming year. The event also features a host of training and certification classes for users of Amazon’s various platforms and tools, along with product demonstrations, thought leadership presentations, and the requisite networking events and entertainment.

The Mars Ecommerce team was well represented at unBoxed 2023, our first as an event sponsor as well as attendees. The team showcased our newly enhanced Marilyn Ecommerce Insights Suite, which provides clients with the end-to-end capabilities needed to maximize success through Amazon and elsewhere in the digital commerce ecosystem. They also offered demos of Noctis, a next-gen navigation tool for Amazon Marketing Cloud released through a partnership with Analytic Index.

Mars Ecommerce members were also on hand to deepen their industry-leading understanding of Amazon’s ever-evolving advertising ecosystem to continue helping clients develop best-practice strategies for success. The following report looks at the team’s key takeaways from the event, a few actionable tips for advertisers, and a look at some of Amazon Ads’ most significant new product announcements.

Key Takeaways

1. Amazon rules, but wants help. Amazon remains the undisputed leader in the retail media marketplace. Beyond the unrivaled volume and sophistication of the first-party data it holds, the depth and reach of its audience opportunities go above and beyond what any other network are offering at this time.

But Amazon understands the need for collaboration and partnership, and so continues to make it easier for brands and agencies to activate, optimize, measure — and yes, ultimately spend more — on Amazon.com. To that end, some of the key themes discussed at unBoxed were advanced marketing capabilities, speed to market, full-funnel engagement & conversion, measurement, and collaboration through partnerships with both tech providers and agencies.

2. Partnerships are ripening. Meanwhile, partnerships across advertisers, agencies and SaaS providers are clearly starting to mature. In the educational sessions, advertisers were very open about which agencies and tech partners they’ve chosen to work with, and why. 

3. The answer is in the clouds. Amazon Marketing Cloud is becoming more and more important to Amazon’s ad-selling story, for which advanced and transparent measurement capabilities are leading the way. Many brands and agencies are still struggling, however, to get past the hurdle of generating custom code and therefore aren’t yet getting the insights from AMC needed to gain competitive advantage.

4. Amazon’s toolbox works. Examples of success activating unique Amazon tools were, not surprisingly, abundant. Interactive voice ads on the Alexa platform drove a 33% new-to-brand rate for one brand; advertisers participating in Amazon’s key tentpole events are improving ROAS by 7% on average.

5. AI has arrived. Amazon’s beta-testing of generative AI tools is just the latest and more attention-grabbing example of the way artificial intelligence is enabling and enhancing digital advertising for the people in front of the ads as well as behind them.

Recommendations for Brands

1. Utilize Amazon’s new and advanced ad solutions (including the ones outlined below) to refine your campaign strategies and improve your performance.

2. Consider audio and display opportunities on Alexa to drive conversion through the platform’s “Learn More” and brand store offerings.

3. Leverage Amazon Marketing Cloud to find new insights/signals about your shoppers.

4. Investigate opportunities to get involved with beta testing for some of the newer tools.

5. Seek to align your own tentpole events with Amazon’s calendar, which can help you find additional opportunities beyond your brand’s own key windows.

6. Explore new ways to utilize Amazon’s full ecosystem to reach shoppers outside of your typical audience.

7. Look for ways to leverage generative AI, like developing creative assets for quick-turn search campaigns that previously often had to run without visuals.

Noteworthy New Releases from Amazon Ads

1. Cross-Platform Updates and Upgrades. Complementary capabilities across Amazon DSP, Amazon Ads APIs, and AMC were designed to enhance audience insights; campaign planning, activation, and optimization; and measurement. Among the more notable additions:

  • Cross-Channel Planner within Amazon DSP provides holistic insights and performance related to audiences and product supply across both Amazon and third-party sites and apps. The tool lets advertisers forecast reach by channel based on prior 12-month campaign performance.
  • Improved Amazon DSP activation and optimization capabilities let advertisers build custom audiences using AMC insights once they have allocated their budgets.
  • AMC Audiences now offers a custom lookalike modeling feature that lets advertisers unlock incremental audience reach to meet campaign goals.
  • Predictive modeling is now available in Amazon DSP, along with the ability to optimize campaign bids based on a target KPI such as reach or conversion.
  • Amazon Marketing Stream, a push-based API solution providing hourly campaign metrics (and near-real-time optimization) that’s now available worldwide, has added Amazon DSP metrics alongside the previous Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and Sponsored Display reporting feeds.
  • An expanded new-to-brand metrics suite will help optimize campaigns targeting new customers. The reporting will identify shoppers who haven’t seen an ad, viewed a product page or added to cart in the last 12 months.

2. Sponsored TV. A new self-service ad solution lets U.S. advertisers reach audiences through Amazon’s own Freevee and Twitch streaming services or other third-party platforms through its Fire TV app — without a minimum-spend requirement.

3. Image generation via generative AI. Just launched in beta, the solution will enable brands to produce lifestyle imagery to help improve ad performance — such as turning plain-background product shots into vibrant lifestyle images. Such simple enhancements can improve click-through rates on mobile Sponsored Brands ads by 40%, according to Amazon.

4. Amazon Publisher Cloud is a collaborative clean room environment that enables publishers to plan and activate programmatic deals in Amazon DSP by analyzing their own first-party signals alongside insights from Amazon Ads.

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