As 2021 comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on what has changed in the e-commerce landscape this year.
In this post, we’ll run through some of the most important updates affecting Amazon sellers, vendors, and advertisers in 2021 — so you can stay ahead of the curve as we enter 2022.
1. Rising CPCs
In 2021, cost-per-click (CPC) advertising on Amazon became more expensive and competitive. CPCs increased across all ad types, including Sponsored Ads, Sponsored Product, Sponsored Brands, and Sponsored Display. We expect that these CPCs will continue to rise in 2022.
What does this mean for brands and advertisers?
The value of Amazon advertising is also increasing. To take advantage of these increases, brands must understand the interplay between paid and earned media.
“The dynamic between paid and earned media – that’s precisely what we’ve been obsessing over and doing for our brand clients,” Pat Petriello, Director of Amazon Strategy at Tinuiti says.
2. Amazon Ads rebrand
Earlier this year, Amazon rolled out a rebrand of their Amazon Advertising products, now called Amazon Ads.
The new site and packaging for Amazon Ads new features three categories:
- Ad products: Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, Sponsored Display, Video ads, Audio ads, and Custom advertising solutions.
- Brand shopping experiences: Stores, Posts, and Amazon Live.
- Ad Tech: Amazon DSP, Amazon Attribution, Amazon Marketing Cloud, and Sizmek Ad Suite.
According to Amazon, the offerings in these categories “work together as your comprehensive advertising partner.”
“It’s a pretty significant update on their end,” says Petriello.
3. New “Manage Your Customer Engagement” tool
In early 2021, Amazon announced the rollout of a new tool, “Manage Your Customer Engagement“. This tool allows brands to send email marketing campaigns directly to existing customers and followers.
According to Amazon, Manage Your Customer Engagement allows sellers to:
- Market directly to Amazon customers who follow your brand
- Helps build loyal relationships with Amazon customers
- Increase the visibility of new products via email
“Amazon’s newly released customer engagement tool is an additional lever brands should utilize to drive engagement with existing customers to build a relationship and increase retention,” explains Emily Leung, Amazon Marketplace Operations Associate at Tinuiti.
Here’s how to create an email campaign with this new tool:
- Upload a horizontal brand logo.
- Add a new product. This product must have been launched on Amazon within the last six months to be eligible.
- Select a supporting image that shows the product in use or explains its benefit.
- Schedule your campaign.
Once you create your campaign, Amazon’s moderation team will take a minimum of 72 hours to review your image assets.
Manage Your Customer Engagement is available to registered brands that have an Amazon Stores page with followers.
4. The launch of Amazon Posts
Like the Manage Your Customer Engagement tool, Amazon Posts are a feature designed for brand building and customer engagement.
It’s historically been difficult for brands to build loyalty on Amazon, where price and speed of delivery take precedent. Shoppers might buy one item from your brand without realizing you have a full product catalog available for purchase. Amazon Posts make
“Simply put, Posts are Amazon’s version of Instagram,” explains Petriello. “What’s improved about Posts and what can make them even more valuable moving forward is that they can now be scheduled to support product launches, brand campaigns, and other social initiatives. So, instead of saying ‘I have to set up a post and launch right now’ – you can build posts and set them to run in the future.”
Brands can now schedule and publish a stream of posts that are curated and controlled by the brand itself. Users can follow brands and discover products through their posts.
“Amazon has continued to invest in their brand store products including customers ability to ‘follow’ brands, the expansion of Amazon Posts, and the ability to retarget store viewers and purchasers in order to engage with customers at all stages of the funnel.” – Jordan Gisch, Sr. Strategist, Marketplaces, Tinuiti
The feature is still in its early stages. Brands that take advantage and start incorporating Amazon Posts into their Amazon marketing strategy early in 2022 will be ahead of the curve when it comes to customer engagement and brand loyalty.
5. Amazon OTT Advertising gaining momentum
Over-the-top (OTT) advertising refers to ads delivered directly to viewers over the internet through streaming video services or devices, such as smart or connected TVs.
The term “over-the-top” comes from the ability to bypass the broadcast schedules, media distribution, and geographic restrictions of advertising through traditional TV providers. With OTT, advertisers can reach their target audiences more directly and affordably.
“OTT is one of the best channels for initial consideration,” explains Joseph Elmquist, Marketplace Programmatic Analyst at Tinuiti. “It’s highly impactful, and having it being targeted through programmatic buying allows you to hit your consumer at the right time. Right place, right time is the story of programmatic and OTT takes this to the consumer’s TV.”
Amazon OTT advertising, which launched in 2019, refers to video advertising placements across streaming TV and movies over Amazon’s DSP network.
The non-skippable, full-screen ads served through Amazon OTT let advertisers reach millions of people across Fire TV’s growing inventory. Advertisers can target specific Amazon audiences; however, OTT ads are not clickable, so they should be a tool for brand awareness rather than direct conversions.
“OTT ads are compelling, they’re eye-catching, and they allow advertisers the ability to scale their reach, and really showcase their brand. OTT ads are full-screen with sound, non-skippable, and have an average completion rate of 97%,” says Karen Hopkins, Strategist, Programmatic, Tinuiti.
Amazon OTT advertising also lets advertisers leverage the programmatic advertising and audience targeting features of Amazon DSP — with full-screen video ads.
Amazon OTT has continued to garner notice and gain momentum throughout 2021, and as we move into 2022, streaming TV opportunities will only expand further.
“This will increase the number of available ad placements and hopefully help close the gap with attribution, allowing data to all live on the same platform. With integrations into Alexa, this also increases the potential for expanding into audio streaming advertising, allowing for a more integrated full-funnel advertising approach,” Hopkins says.
6. Global supply chain disruption
Unfortunately, not all changes in 2021 have been positive. Even before the holiday rush, this year has been plagued with supply chain issues, from container ships stuck in ports to factory closures caused by COVID-19 outbreaks. America is also facing a truck driver shortage, making it difficult for ordered products to get into customers’ hands.
Among Tinuiti advertisers, These supply chain issues have impacted brands’ abilities to market their products in a variety of ways:
- Products that require microchips, such as home appliances, are running into shortages.
- Some CPG companies are awaiting product packaging that’s stuck at ports, delaying their ability to ship new SKUs.
- Apparel brands are running out of key sizes and products as factory shutdowns have delayed production.
In Q4, this global supply chain disruption is impacting advertisers’ plans, with some brands adjusting ads to reflect the fact that they won’t have enough inventory to support peak-season promotions.
“Advertisers experiencing limited inventory concerns are responding in a few different ways this year. In rare cases, brands are planning a full advertising pause once key items have been sold through. Others aren’t pausing completely, but are reducing spend in some areas, and/or have decided to continue advertising for visibility, but are going non-promotional, with no major price reductions or sales.”
– Josh Brisco, VP, Growth Media at Tinuiti
For Amazon sellers, these difficulties require more focus on inventory management. Megan King, Senior Account Manager, Retail Operations at Tinuiti, recommends mastering inventory management with a multi-channel approach:
“If you’re only using one channel for inventory management, you’re behind. With warehouse capacity constraints, staffing shortages, and COVID protocols, the timeline to receive inventory has increased significantly. For some of our clients on Amazon, the receipt timeline has jumped from 7 to at least 21 days! It’s vital to use a multi-channel approach to ensure sufficient inventory coverage.”
7. Amazon unBoxed
At the end of October, Amazon hosted unBoxed 2021, their first annual virtual event “open to businesses of all sizes and marketers of every level of expertise interested in learning how Amazon is helping brands grow their business through creativity and innovation.”
The event featured on-demand content from 40+ speakers, including keynotes, breakout sessions, and lightning talks. Amazon also gave advertisers a first look at new products and custom insights to make the most of their Amazon advertising strategies.
Here are a few of the topics covered at this year’s unBoxed:
- Engaging customers with interactive OTT and audio ads
- Campaign measurement and optimization techniques
- Making the most of Sponsored Display and Sponsored Products
- Connecting with customers through Brand Content Solutions and Brand Advertising
Like so much of what we’ve discussed in this article – Amazon Posts, the “Manage Your Customer Engagement” tool, and the Amazon Ads rebrand – many of the solutions discussed at unBoxed 2021 focused on helping brands connect with their customers and drive engagement throughout the customer journey.
If you couldn’t make it to unBoxed 2021, check out this complete recap and expert takeaways from the event.