Brands are hiring specialists to run Amazon campaigns

Advertisers want to take management of their Amazon ad campaigns in-house, and they’re looking to hire people who can navigate Amazon’s sprawling ad business. These companies don’t want to do the buying themselves, but want to set strategies so that their agencies can handle the execution just like they do for search ads on Google and posts on Facebook. The likes of Vodafone and eBay have search managers running Google ad campaigns, while Philips and Nissan do the same for Facebook.

Reckitt Benckiser is looking for people who can manage its search campaigns on the site, per a job post. The post makes it clear that the consumer goods business views Amazon as a giant supermarket and plans to use search managers to help promote its products online.

Fashion retailer G-Star is another advertiser looking to in-house that talent. It is hiring e-commerce managers specifically for selling its products on Amazon, also according to a job post. Unlike other e-commerce-focused roles, this one requires the candidate to use their expertise to steer G-Star’s advertising agencies. Indeed, the job post makes a point to highlight the importance of using ads to raise awareness of the brand on the site, not just shifting product. G-Star and Reckitt Benckiser didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“We’re starting to see brands hire Amazon ‘experts’ in-house,” said Amazon advertising and marketing consultant Daniel Tejada, who previously worked at performance agency Quiverr. “Frequently, these marketers manage the direction of the brand on Amazon and will rely on an agency or have a small internal team to manage the implementation.”

Marketers’ appetite for this expertise has been stoked by the direct relationships Amazon already has with other parts of their businesses. Smaller boutique agencies have usually managed ads on Amazon for their clients because the larger networks haven’t known enough about the platform. But now Amazon is aggressively pushing its offer, particularly since it simplified the convoluted offer in the summer, more marketers are starting to think twice about an internal expert. This trend is clearest in the amount of interest Tejada has seen for Amazon’s demand-side platform among brands.

“Amazon was pushing its DSP to the advertising agencies specifically but now a decent number of brands themselves are starting to learn about DSP even existing,” said Tejada.

A recent report by Advertising Perceptions found that Amazon’s DSP is the most used by advertisers ahead of Google. About 41 percent of advertisers were using Amazon’s DSP as of July this year, putting it ahead of other DSPs.

One large consumer electronics brand that recently started working with ad platform Downstream wants to run its own Amazon ads because it’s not confident its agency understands how the sales and advertising aspects of the platform came together for advertising, said Downstream founder and former Amazon executive Connor Folley.

“Just as we have seen the rise of Amazon as a critical channel drive an industry of ‘endemic’ Amazon agencies, we are now observing a trend where brands are beginning to build these capabilities in-house and split with their agencies,” said Folley.

Agencies are trying to close that knowledge gap.

Both Ogilvy and Beamly are looking for senior executives with knowledge of Amazon’s ad business, per job posts. The danger is there may not be enough talent to go around. Amazon’s ad business is young and there are many ad executives still getting to grips with how it works to be considered experts. The likes of Reckitt Benckiser and G-Star could end up competing with their own agencies for talent, not just their rivals.

“There’s definitely a talent war between both clients and agencies,” said Yulia Livne, e-commerce lead at Mindshare U.K. “It’s almost impossible to find the specialist with experience in both — media and e-commerce, while commercial, consulting and analytical experiences are other useful layers to have.”

Being an Amazon expert is no mean feat. Firstly, they need a strong grasp of Amazon’s search algorithm and online shopping behavior given nearly half of product searches start on Amazon, according to research company Survata. Next, the expert must be able to navigate Amazon’s display business, which the marketplace is positioning to grab larger brand building budgets as well in programmatic. Then, the expert has to be able to manage product pages, customer reviews and stock levels — all of which are important conversion drivers that impact the return on advertising sales. Finally, the specialist must be able to make calls on the right pricing and promotion strategies as well as come up with a way to work with third-party sellers they may end up competing with by selling the same goods.

“Understanding how media works on Amazon on its own is not enough to guarantee success,” said Livne.

The war for talent is set to intensify as more money is spent on Amazon’s ads.

A recent Digiday study, found that more than 73 percent of ad buyers plan to increase their spending on Amazon next year. IProspect more than doubled its spending on Amazon in 2018 and plans to increase spending again in 2019, for example.

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