Advertisers looking to reach an engaged audience are facing a twofold challenge as we move into 2024.
On the one hand, the vast web of online and offline touchpoints incorporated in a single purchase journey have made it increasingly complex for brands to develop a single view of customers.
And at the same time, the deprecation of third-party cookies means that advertisers need to reconfigure their approach to connect and resonate with audiences.
“The industry is evolving at a rapid rate of knots,” said Frazer Locke, director of EU adtech sales at Amazon Ads, speaking at Econsultancy Live on November 16. “Ad addressability is front of mind, but so is how customers are shopping and how they’re exploring different websites from a path to purchase perspective. It’s making serving ads as well as measuring them more complicated.”
Already the capacity to measure ROI seems to be affected, with just 13% of brands currently investing in ongoing tracking of marketing effectiveness metrics, according to Marketing Week’s own Language of Effectiveness survey. Seven per cent say they aren’t measuring effectiveness at all.
“Even for the clients that we work with that have made huge strides in their preparation for a cookieless future, a lot still don’t have a holistic solution in place,” pointed out Betsy Ray, associate vice president of technology and analytics for Kepler EMEA, speaking alongside Locke at Econsultancy Live. That creates a real need in the near future to “make sure that marketers have a full toolbox that addresses these changes”.
Facing the new frontier with data clean rooms
While both Locke and Ray caveat that there’s no silver bullet, they agree that ‘data clean rooms’ (DCRs) are a solution that can help marketers navigate this new frontier with confidence. With an anonymised and secure way to share insights, DCRs provide advertisers with access to the information they need to deliver more effective campaigns while simultaneously protecting customer privacy. Amazon Ads own solution, for instance, Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC), only accepts encrypted datasets and supplies advertisers with anonymous and aggregated outputs. In short, with DCRs advertisers can model customer behaviour, build unique audience segments and analyse ROI – all without impinging on privacy.
For this reason, DCRs are “literally a solution designed to address the problems that marketers are facing today – they’re privacy safe by design” explained Ray. “When we think about all of the available signals – from browsing and shopping behaviour, to mobile ad IDs or IP addresses – data clean rooms are going to be one of the primary ways for us to take advantage of that information in a safe and secure way.”
That makes DCRs a potentially invaluable tool for marketers looking to leverage opportunities like ad addressability, said Locke. That’s because “not only does Amazon Marketing Cloud allow you to build out your audiences to start campaigns, but you can also then utilise them in real time and adjust accordingly based on who’s interacting with the adverts you’re serving”.
For one domestic appliance brand looking to improve the efficiency of their advertising spend, DCRs proved a gamechanger. The brand tapped into the Kepler Intelligence Platform (KIP) dashboard that makes AMC analyses available anytime to identify trends faster – enabling them to see when customers were most likely to engage with their adverts. They found that while early mornings saw far less efficient conversions, the same activity was far more likely to engage audiences later in the day.
With this insight, the brand used a custom tool developed by Kepler, the KIP Amazon Ads Bid Scheduler, to automate bid changes and implement dayparting – increasing bids and displaying ads only at those times that were most likely to see results. By making these changes, the brand saw a significant knock-on impact on sales, including a 46% increase in orders, 66% increase in sales and 15% increase in ROI.
Empowering advertisers to take the driving seat
It isn’t as complicated as it might seem for brands to get started with DCRs either, according to Ray, with solutions like the one from Amazon Ads helping to simplify the process and put advertisers in the driving seat. With AMC, for example, teams can now begin with simpler, instructional queries and templates that are already available on the platform.
“That makes a really big difference,” she said. “Often there’s a barrier to entry with clean room technology because you have to get data by writing queries in [programming language] SQL and not everyone has those capabilities. But with the templates that Amazon has made available it means that any advertiser can get started really quickly.”
Then, once brands have developed those foundations, there are all sorts of more advanced and custom queries marketers they can run, particularly where they’ve built up a solid stream of their own first-party data to use in combination. On Amazon Ads, for example, they can bring their first-party data into AMC and then combine it with Amazon Ads signals to get even more valuable insights and analyses.
This could include understanding how media spend with Amazon Ads is impacting offline conversions in stores, for example. This was the aim for one senior care brand that wanted to understand how online media was driving conversions via its call centres. By uploading its own first-party data to AMC and developing a custom query to connect this to online activity, the brand was able to see exactly how strong the connection between the two was, and increased its allocated budget for online ads by 15% as a result.
“For me, clean rooms are about empowering marketeers,” said Locke. “You get out of it what you put in, and the tools that we’re building are helping to standardise and democratise access to Amazon Marketing Cloud. Instead of ‘one size fits all’, it gives you the ability to customise against your campaign needs, your advertiser needs, and utilise that at scale.”
By doing so the aim is to make “marketers’ lives a lot easier”, he said, at a time when that has rarely been more critical.