March 12, 2021
How Taking Advantage of ALL Holidays Will Help Your 2021 Amazon Performance
At Metric Theory, the holiday shopping season is winding down, the days are shorter, and we’re close to figuring out how we’re going to re-gift all of the least desired white elephant presents. It’s a time to catch our breath and reflect on how far we’ve come in 2019, but also to figure out how it’s possible that we still can’t see individual conversion event timestamps in Google Ads??? Anyway…
This year, we connected with our subject matter experts across all our office locations for a new year-end series to find out their wishlists, predictions, and resolutions for 2020. We’re leading off with everyone’s favorite performance ad channels today, but stay tuned in the days leading up to 2020 for other topics! Read the whole thing or click on the subjects you care about most to jump straight to them.
Contributor: Sarunas Kvederys, Associate Director, Paid Search
Seeing the direction Google and others have gone toward automation and machine learning, 2020 will be all about getting cozy with The Machines. While we might not yet be in the PPC version of The Matrix, where machines take over everything, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that they’re getting really, really good. Yesterday’s best practices are now constantly challenged (looking at you, broad match keywords) as algorithms identify better quality placements to reach the right audience at the right time.
So what’s an SEM-er to do? More than ever on the testing front. Winners will be decided by those that find the best automation recipe for each business use case to maximize returns. While new products like Smart Shopping and Responsive Search Ads make some previous optimization activities irrelevant, marketers still can influence results by improving the inputs of audience, conversion data and KPI metrics, creative choices, and priming the algorithm on expected swings. Learning the right mix of automation and manual control is a must if you want to grow next year.
Contributor: Briana Livingston, Senior Manager, Paid Social
It seems everyone is complaining about how expensive Facebook advertising is getting. Want to be able to afford Facebook advertising in 2020? Work on your mobile-first and video-first advertising strategy. As Millenials crowd out Gen Xers in the US workforce and Gen Zers ramp up their buying power, platforms like Instagram, and Instagram Stories, will be increasingly important to all marketers, spanning B2C and B2B, brand awareness and direct response. Expect Stories to replace more and more of the newsfeed experience, and for Facebook to continue developing ad formats and features for it on all networks. Redeveloping your strategy to reach and appeal to audiences on Stories will be critical, and that means video.
Also, embracing automation and machine learning will be a key component of winning on Facebook in 2020 and beyond. Facebook continues to improve its algorithm and promote trust in it for advertiser success, recommending broader targeting than ever before. While I don’t think you can just throw up some ads to everyone and watch the money roll in, there’s no denying that Facebook’s algorithm is getting smarter. So testing to understand when to let Facebook take the wheel versus when you should be behind it will be key to staying competitive in 2020. (Did you peek at my notes, Sarunas?)
One final note on Dynamic Ads: With browsers and regulation putting cross-site cookie tracking in jeopardy to a degree, advertisers relying heavily on these for purchases would be smart to begin finding other recipes for success as a backup plan. If performance begins to slip, you’ll need to replace those lost sales in other campaigns, or other ad channels.
I have one item on my wishlist. Facebook, if you’re out there: How do bid modifiers not exist yet?! It’s almost 2020!
Contributor: Trey Buchanan, Senior Manager, Paid Social
With another year in B2B paid social come and gone, a lot has changed. ABM strategies have stolen even more space in the hearts and minds of marketers, Intent Data is the coolest kid in school, and cost continues to rise as businesses understand more of the impact this advertising can have beyond last-click leads and customers.
On the note of costs rising, my biggest prediction for 2020 is that more platforms will offer proprietary attribution tools to shed light on the total value they’re delivering. And on my wishlist, however unlikely, is for the big ad networks to start playing nice and work together for marketers to get the attribution data they need. Asking too much? Probably.
If I can’t have that, my backup request is to be able to run video and static image ads in the same campaign on LinkedIn. Hopefully my wish will come true this year.
Contributor: Adam VanBaale, Senior Manager of Ecommerce
Amazon now represents 60% of product searches and 40 cents for every dollar spent on stuff online, and that’s likely only going up in 2020. Unless you’re Nike or you feel really confident you can deliver a better experience without Amazon, retailers need to factor in spending more on Amazon Advertising and Amazon Promotions in 2020. Competition will increase to be sure, but most also expect fee increases like the accrual percentages required from brands to sell in their marketplace.
To remain competitive, retailers will have to prioritize brand experience and control. More brands will move from Amazon’s Vendor Central to Seller Central for more pricing control across all online retail and brick-and-mortar to maximize profitable sales. They’ll have to reconsider how resellers fit, and whether to either shut them down or strengthen brand policies with them to create more reliable revenue. Getting into programs like Brand Registry, Project Zero, and Transparency should be top priorities for even more control over your outcomes.
All Amazon retailers should also plan now for testing out Walmart’s advertising platform that will go live in January 2020. Walmart is one of the few companies that has the resources to compete with Amazon, and their work the last few years is paying off. While their piece of the pie is smaller, being active early can help blunt the impact of Amazon’s increasing competition on sales. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re talking about Wal-Mart’s marketplace as a necessary part of overall ecommerce strategy by this time next year.
Contributor: Andrew Cooper, Associate Director of Ecommerce
In 2019, Google Smart Shopping took off and won over many marketers. Even though it’s a black box, marketers could overlook the loss in control and insight because of the strong results it drives. In 2020, I have two wishes on my list for Smart Shopping and one resolution.
Wishlist Item #1: Placements Insight. I would love to know what placements, audiences, and searches are driving these Smart Shopping results. Google may be hesitant to allow insight into Smart Shopping placements for fear that marketers would rebel against what they see. However, I believe marketers would use this insight not to discredit the results of Smart Shopping but to advance their techniques in other areas, like taking best performing audiences from Smart Shopping and expanding them into dedicated YouTube campaigns.
Wishlist Item #2: Segmenting New & Returning Customers. Many businesses are willing to spend more to acquire a first-time customer in order to prioritize growth, but it’s not possible to control a new customer acquisition (NCA) strategy with Smart Shopping. Allowing for a separate ROAS goal or separate campaign type to acquire new customers would be extremely valuable.
In 2019, I was skeptical of Smart Shopping like many were. But I regret not testing it earlier, because it turned out to be a great improvement in so many ways to more manual Google Shopping. So, in 2020, I resolve to try more Shopping tools as soon as they are available.
Contributor: Alyssa Codd, Associate Director, Search & Video
Over the past few years, one of the most frequently used stats about video advertising that I’ve seen has been “By 2020, 80% of all internet traffic will be video.” Well, 2020 is almost here, and I’m not so sure that will bear out. However, there’s no doubt that web video consumption is still on the rise, and it comes with a need for more sophisticated measurement and clearer visibility into the impact that video advertising has on a company’s bottom line.
At the top of my wishlist is to see Google step up their measurement tools for YouTube, especially after they’ve improved direct response results through products like TrueView for Action and custom intent audiences. The thing that has the most potential to really change the game with YouTube is to include it in position-based or data-driven attribution models and allow us to see YouTube’s positional role in the path to conversion. Having that information at our fingertips will allow us video true believers to more easily build a case for its business impact.
That’s it for this installment! To get the rest of this series and other great performance marketing news and tips to your inbox all next year, join our email community.
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