All Interviews

What is the secret to successful Amazon Advertising?

What is the secret to successful Amazon Advertising? We hope to find out during the E-commerce Berlin Expo, where Nich Weinheimer, a Vice President of Kenshoo, will share best practices learned from 500+ brands. For now, our interview can play the role of a perfect sneak peek, keeping you in suspense and curiosity for another month!

You are a Vice President of Kenshoo, the leading digital advertising technology platform. What do your responsibilities include? How big is your team and how many marketers do you operate on?

I look after our Ecomm business unit, ensuring our matrix organization of functional groups are aligned in support of our strategic objectives, revenue targets, marketing efforts and client success.  Kenshoo in total is over 600 people globally and the Ecomm team is a fast-growing cylinder of the business at just over 50. Kenshoo Ecomm’s agency and brand clients each have many users – marketers – who log in to Kenshoo on a daily basis to Plan, Forecast and Execute their Amazon Advertising campaigns. We have over 500 brands using the platform, and a few thousand users.

You are a Vice President of Kenshoo, the leading digital advertising technology platform. What do your responsibilities include? How big is your team and how many marketers do you operate on?

Kenshoo_Nich_Weinheimer

I look after our Ecomm business unit, ensuring our matrix organization of functional groups are aligned in support of our strategic objectives, revenue targets, marketing efforts and client success.  

Kenshoo in total is over 600 people globally and the Ecomm team is a fast-growing cylinder of the business at just over 50.  

Kenshoo Ecomm’s agency and brand clients each have many users – marketers – who log in to Kenshoo on a daily basis to Plan, Forecast and Execute their Amazon Advertising campaigns. I’d estimate that number in the few thousands of users.

Referring to your presentation: 500+ brands sound like it is quite a lot! What is the key to success with international operating and gaining new customers?

The Kenshoo Ecomm team is lucky to operate as a startup within a mature organization that brings the benefits of 13 years as a leader in the digital marketing technology space.

 Over that history, we have built great partnerships with all the big 6 agency holding companies, thousands of brand contacts, users, partners etc. that provide us lots of exposure, speed to market and goodwill in our industry as we bring new technologies and channels to the industry.  

Being keen to deliver cutting edge solutions, we saw the opportunity to establish a deep partnership here in Seattle with Amazon Advertising and to pivot over a decade of search technology to the Amazon opportunity.

 Definitely being first to market has its advantages in terms of adoption and demand in a rapidly expanding channel like Amazon.  In terms of international operations, the key is to wake up early and go to bed late ;).

But seriously, ZoomConference, patience, and a willingness to take the middle seat redeye is a good start to success in a global organization.

Let’s focus on Amazon Advertising. For many, is is an unknown land, but we both know there is so much potential in exploring advertising possibilities! When did you start being interested in Amazon Advertising, and what made you get into it?

I began a career in Seattle in venture backed startups about 12 years ago.  The second company I worked for integrated retailers onto the world’s largest marketplaces and shopping channels.

It was through my 3 years there that I really cut my teeth on the backend of Amazon, learned how retailers were being squeezed and brands were on the rise, and was able to marry adtech experience with Amazon operations.

Later, I would start my own Amazon Consulting practice, launch a brand on Amazon of my own, and then work for one of the more forward thinking Amazon Consulting firms, BuyBoxExperts before joining Kenshoo.

It was at BuyBoxExperts that I owned all things Amazon Advertising and saw the need for what Kenshoo was bringing to market to support Amazon.

I consider myself lucky to work with such a humble, passionate and innovative team at Kenshoo – from the CEO all the way through the organization – as we look to position our world class technology as first and best for Amazon Advertising.

The competition in the Amazon is really fierce. What the retailers should do to stay ahead of their competitors?

If I’m understanding the question correctly, Retailers need to think about building out their own owned and operated brands. Find a defensible position from a product perspective and innovate as to how you position your products and talk to your customers.

 If you have innovative and defensible products, advertising will be the gas to throw on the fire.  There are so many great tools, resources and areas of innovation in product development these days that finding unique and exclusive relationships as a retailer or branded manufacturer will allow you to focus on Advertising and winning customers in your category.

 With Amazon cracking down on counterfeits and fake reviews, Advertising remains the key lever that brands have to compete in the market.  Brands who uncover cross channel solutions that drive consideration-phase channels like Facebook to Amazon, for example, will start to edge out the competition.

As more and more large Retailers begin to offer sponsored ad units to the Brand Manufacturer, it is important that brands are prepared to capture that opportunity beyond Amazon.

We at Kenshoo are positioning our technology to support that vision and provide the decisioning, planning and measurement tools to help a senior marketing executive make data-driven decisions about spreading budget across key Retail partners, Amazon and beyond.

Can each and every business benefit from Amazon Advertising? How can Kenshoo help?

We support Agencies and Brands-direct, alike.  Generally speaking, our solution typically serves a larger direct brand, though many agencies leverage our solution to aggregate smaller spenders into one Agency instance of Kenshoo Ecomm.  

So in a sense, yes, every business spending on Amazon Advertising can benefit from Kenshoo.  We provide planning and forecasting tools, automation and optimization technology, flexible and transparent reporting, an open platform for integration, and the ability to manage cross-channel programs in one platform.

We developed Products Manager this year which is a game-changer for Amazon Advertisers.  With operational, organic and other product-level data as well as 3rd party data available to integrate with Kenshoo, the marketer is armed to holistically manage an Amazon Advertising program.

What would you regard as your biggest success with Amazon Advertising? (We hope to see it during Expo!)

Sometimes it is the hard work behind the scenes in Ad Tech that flies under the radar and rarely gets credit that really drives success.  

In the case of Kenshoo’s success this year with Amazon Advertising, I would say that our developers’ hard work on releasing innovative tools while at the same time keeping up with Amazon’s API updates AND providing valuable feedback to Amazon’s product teams is just an outsize effort by a great team.  Hats off to them.

 It is because of their work that our clients achieved record results, especially on key event days like Prime Day and the Cyber 5. With the automated actions they released this year in advance of Prime Day, our clients could set automation rules relative to out of budget signals sent from Amazon.

 When your opportunity is restricted to a 24-48hr period, automation and preparedness are key to success. No advertiser wants to limit their performance because they simply couldn’t keep up with the opportunity.  

It may seem basic, but this and other automation and algorithmic optimization tools allowed our CE vertical to achieve 542% daily sales increase during the Cyber5.

In an interview for SEL, you said that” Attribution and Stores Analytics (launched last year) are to change the game for large sellers and brand manufacturers advertising on the channel”.Why do you think so?

While Amazon Advertising owned marketing headlines in 2018 (and likely will into 2019), signals point to Brand Manufacturers increasing their investment in digital across more than just Amazon.  

They are keen to drive mid and upper-funnel traffic into the Amazon Store or Product Detail page from other key digital channels, and they will want to be early adopters of other mature, API-based Retail Advertising channels (think: Walmart, Target, etc.).  

For all of this, they will want a central management system that has enterprise scale and operability.  We plan to provide that. Stores Analytics and Amazon Attribution represent the tools from inside Amazon that will make those increased investments in digital pointed to Amazon a trackable, optimizable strategy.

Both represent historic shifts in transparency for Amazon, enabling brands with the requisite tracking to confidently invest more in digitalY

You prepared an interesting study – Amazon: The Big E-Commerce Marketing Opportunity for Brands. I was surprised by a few stats, including 26% of people saving products to their wish lists on Amazon, or only 23% Brits looking for sports equipment on Amazon. Where, in your opinion, is Amazon heading? Where can you see it in 5 years?

The tectonic shifts within Amazon’s business are registering on the richter scale and point to a strategic corporate move toward ‘Hands off the Wheel’ and stronger standards around contribution profit guardrails.  

With higher margin business units like AWS and Advertising growing rapidly and putting up stellar contribution profits, Amazon seems to be pivoting the juggernaut and taking relatively small knocks on the chin on top line in their Retail business as they shift the business.

 ‘Platforming-out’ various pieces of their business and automating certain managed services allows them to automate their lower margin businesses while investing human resources and talent in enablement, partnerships and growth on their higher margin BUs (AWS, Advertising).

 In 5 years, I think we see Amazon with on back-end for ‘supply’ and one set of Advertising tools versus Seller Central, Vendor Central and the myriad UIs that support those two models of providing product to Amazon customers.  

Their valuation will begin to increase relative to growing profits versus the years of growth at all-costs.

It has been a great run for owners of Amazon, but also Alibaba. How do you think the fight – or collaboration – between those two will go?

Amazon will face headwinds with efforts to crack into the Chinese market and Alibaba similarly will face challenges doing the same in the US.

 I don’t see either one making material gains in each other’s core market.  Language barriers and political realities will keep the walls up for the near future.

What is the biggest challenge that e-commerce needs to face nowadays?

I think the biggest challenge will be faced by the largest retailers finding critical mass in standing up to Amazon – especially because of the profitability Amazon is starting to prove with their diversification as not only a retail business.  

This will be done by learning from Amazon’s moves, banding together, partnerships with key technology companies and standing up higher margin monetization solutions, like advertising.  

During the presentation, you will say quite a few words about “Amazon Advertising Best Practices Learned from 500+ Clients”. If you were to choose just one practice, what would it be and why?

Leverage our automated actions, bid algos and budget management when you can, but provide the marketer with the levers, transparency and tools to tune the system with the human element.  

AI and ML are hot topics, but we believe that the machine is only powerful when the human element can give it context and manage it as strategically as possible.

 The machine should provide the efficiency, scale and deep learnings, not the entire solution.

Is there anything you can suggest for those who haven’t started yet (except for watching your presentation during E-commerce Berlin Expo ;))?

Find a trusted advisor(s) so you can learn from their mistakes. Don’t reinvent the wheel.  Find technologies that enable and provide transparency and control, not black-boxed solutions.

 Beware the snake oil and black-hat tactics.  Patience and steady, healthy growth of your advertising practice is always better than get-rich-quick schemes that could put your brand/business at risk.

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Nich is one of the speakers during E-commerce Berlin Expo 2019. If you want to see his presentation live, register here for free 

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Nich Weinheimer

Nich brings over a decade of experience in digital advertising, particularly on Amazon, to E-commerce Berlin Expo. Having helped both ad-tech companies to develop their Amazon integrations and brands directly to run their businesses and advertising on Amazon’s Marketplace, Nich has a wealth of experience and knowledge around this ever-growing channel. He has been with Kenshoo since the beginning of 2018 where he now helps lead the E-Commerce / Amazon Advertising business.