Amazon Advertising Software and Services, Positioning Your Brand for Success

Gaining a technological advantage on Amazon requires initiative and curiosity

Connor Folley

The rise of Amazon as a critical retail channel and the accompanying increased focus on deals and promotions has fostered a heightened urgency around key dates like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Prime Day. This dynamic has catalyzed an arms race between consumer brands, seeking out technology and agency partners who can offer them a competitive advantage during these key periods. Brands have enlisted various strategies for managing their Amazon business– some enlist outside agencies and others choose to keep it in house. Whether you partner with an agency or not, brands increasingly recognize the competitive edge provided by software that doesn’t take weekends, vacations, or require sleep, but instead just runs relentlessly, working to drive their business goals, 24/7/365. For this reason, it has become increasingly important that consumer brands explore what Amazon technology is at their disposal and have a firm grasp on the technology working on their behalf. But Amazon is confusing, and the Amazon ad tech space is even more confusing. So, here are a few questions to ask your team to ensure you are partnered for success.

What Amazon Advertising technology are we using?

Amazon agencies can be invaluable partners in aligning strategy, developing creative, providing analysis, and perfecting detail pages, which can really get a brand’s Amazon business humming. But, whether you partner with an agency or manage your Amazon strategy in-house, without advertising technology, your brand will still be at a constant disadvantage, and so it is critical that you not outsource finding the right technology solution. Consider dayparting for example, having the ability to move your ad investment towards periods of the day when clicks are cheaper and conversions are higher provides a very clear competitive advantage versus those advertisers that lack this capability. So whether you manage your Amazon Advertising in-house or through an agency, it’s critical that your team leverages technology to put your brand in the best position to succeed and often the efficiency gains pay for themselves.

At Downstream we partner with, sell to, and love both our agency and brand partners. Brands with agencies regularly engage us and have their agencies use our software on their behalf. In other circumstances, it’s agencies who partner with us to provide a solution to their clients.  We also partner with brands without agency partners to use our technology directly to manage their Amazon advertising investment internally. Downstream’s software can support these various engagements because governance and permissions controls are central to our product, empowering customers to manage multiple Vendor and Seller accounts across the globe with highly customizable permission rules  as that can be tailored to meet their operating structure. Additionally, we developed unique machine learning automation capabilities to assist our customers in achieving a diverse set of brand objectives, providing both agency partners and brands a powerful and diverse tool kit of solutions. Even the most talented account team can’t overcome the competitive advantage machine learning automation achieves due to computational power and basic human limitations, like sleep.

In-house technology? Interesting, say more.

Often times we hear from brands, “my agency has their own in-house tech”. That is great, kudos to them for developing software, building an agency or a software company is an incredibly challenging endeavor in its own right, so accomplishing both is laudable. However, if you as a client do not have access to your agency’s software, it’s worth gaining a better understanding of just what capabilities are being deployed on your behalf. Here are a few questions worth asking:

  • Is your software just an analytics application? If yes, then you, the brand, still have the same competitive disadvantage versus those with campaign management and automation working for them 24/7/365.

  • Does it automate bid and budget optimizations?

  • Does it offer day-parting?

  • Does it offer different automations based on my campaign or category objectives?

  • Does it operate in all the Amazon marketplaces I’m running ads?

It’s also mission critical that your team has their valuable Amazon data at their fingertips, so if you don’t have a log in, request one.

Who develops the technology you use?

I have encountered this situation far too many times; a major brand contacts us and requires that we sign a NDA before we can talk about their Amazon business. We come to find out they are currently using or piloting software hosted and developed by overseas contract developers. Do you have any idea how to enforce an NDA in China or Pakistan? I don’t and I’d rather not be in a position requiring me to figure it out. At Downstream we believe in the future of distributed work, but we hired a U.S. based workforce because we knew our customers valued that security, turns out many don’t know to ask.

It is incumbent on you as the end customer to know who’s building the technology you or your agency is using and who they are employed by. Don’t be shy about checking your software vendor’s LinkedIn. Don’t see any engineers or developers? Well that would make it pretty hard to build software. It is probably a good idea to ask a few questions, because it’s your sensitive data and it’s important to know where it’s hosted and who has access to it. Also, what is your software vendor or agency partner’s infosec policies? If they provide services and sell software, what prevents  the account executive on my competitor’s business from “peeking at my cards”? Knowing your budgets, bids, CTRs, day parting profiles, and priorities is a pretty big advantage, so inquire about firewalls and permissions.

The accelerating pace of e-commerce innovation requires that brands remain curious about emerging technologies, ensuring they benefit first from new technological advantages. Find a technology partner, or resign to the fact that others brands will benefit at your expense. If you have an agency partner, that’s great but your brand may still be technologically vulnerable. And if your agency has tech, familiarize yourself with what they’re using on your behalf. This discovery should be viewed as basic due diligence. In evaluating a technology partner, do your research, really understand who they are as an organization because this is sensitive data and a long-term relationship, the product they have today is only one factor in an enterprise software purchase. The brand leaders of the future will remain curious and seek out solution partners who put them in a position to win.

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