As Amazon’s Influence Grows, Marketers Scramble to Tailor Strategies

Dooley Tombras, the firm’s executive vice president, said the group sends products to influential Amazon reviewers in hopes of soliciting positive feedback and conducts “guerrilla sampling,” like holding events “where we’re handing out a product and we’ve got teams there with iPads and we’re encouraging people to write reviews of a product on the spot.” There are more than 14,000 reviews of the powder.

The page also has more than a dozen images of the powder taken from “multiple angles” against a light background to look clean and professional, Mr. Tombras said, along with short videos extolling the powder. Brands can pay Amazon to customize the middle of pages with large advertorial images and information — which in the protein powder’s case included photos of men working out; a recipe for “birthday cake pancakes” made with the chocolate-flavored whey; and a chart featuring six of its other products, like Micronized Creatine Powder, explaining when and how they should be consumed.

His firm is even working on a feature for Echo devices that will provide recipes from Optimum Nutrition. “If you find a recipe you like and happen to not have that flavor or item, you can go ahead and make that purchase,” he said, “which is pretty cool.”

Amazon has long been an online shopping behemoth, but marketers now know it is playing an increasingly important role in how people discover and learn about their goods.

“E-commerce is nothing new, it’s been going on for decades, and Amazon is nothing new, it’s been successful for decades — but now they are becoming much more of a dominant force in brand discovery,” said Sarah Hofstetter, the chief executive of the digital agency 360i.

Its quick success in categories like apparel and the popularity of voice search emphasized that, she said, adding, “Amazon is the new shelf space, and if you’re not on it, you may be rendered invisible.”

Mindshare and Possible, two agencies under the ad giant WPP, recently announced a service to help companies spend their advertising dollars across “the Amazon ecosystem.” (Possible caught the industry’s attention this year when it acquired Marketplace Ignition, an Amazon-focused consulting firm.)

The agencies said in the release that more than half of United States consumers now start online product searches on Amazon, compared with 28 percent on search engines and 16 percent on retailer…

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