In March, Tinuiti announced the acquisition of Amazon-specialist agency, Ortega Group. The Seattle-based firm of former-Amazonians specializes in strategic account management and operational services for brands like Gerber, Grande Cosmetics, Nulo Pet Food, and Pantone.
The strategic acquisition brings together Tinuiti’s full-funnel Amazon marketing services with Ortega’s insider Amazon HQ tribal knowledge. The combined offering creates the industry’s most robust full-service Amazon and marketplace program.
“Tinuiti with Ortega is where full-service meets full-funnel,” said Zach Morrison, chief executive officer, Tinuiti said. “If we learned anything from the acceleration of eCommerce that started with the pandemic, it’s that clients need strategic and operational support in addition to advertising services to ensure sustained and profitable growth. Commerce brands of the future require a new model that goes deeper than just media and that’s what this acquisition achieves.”
We sat down with Adam Ortega and Phil Stolt, managing partners of Ortega Group to learn more about the recent acquisition, the current state of Amazon, and what we can expect to see from the partnership in the near future.
Q. Who is Ortega Group?
Phil and I are two former Amazonians who co-founded Ortega Group in 2013. Today, Ortega’s capabilities include strategic retail operations, A9 search optimization, negotiating vendor contracts and trade terms, content optimization and catalog evergreening, product white space analysis, demand forecasting, product launches, and in-depth reporting.
Q. As you mentioned, the founders (and more than half your staff) are former Amazon employees. Why did you feel it was important to branch out and start your own agency?
There are a couple of reasons why we left Amazon but the number one reason was our entrepreneurial spirit. We wanted to challenge ourselves to see if we could prosper not only professionally but also financially outside of the Amazon organization.
It became pretty obvious (in our experience working with Amazon) the gaps that existed between what the brands and manufacturers were getting from a support standpoint from Amazon versus what they really needed.
To us, the lowest hanging fruit was the strategic and tactical advice that large brands were missing in their business strategy. Most brands (at the time) didn’t know any better but as former Amazon employees, we could clearly see those gaps. I left Amazon in 2013. At the time, the amount of client interaction or manufacturer brand interaction with someone internally at Amazon was extremely low. The majority of the interaction was based on quick growth and revenue tactics (aka how to convince brands to spend more on marketing) or how to leverage contract negotiations to extract more dollars. Coaching or tactical advice wasn’t being provided to brands just yet. We knew we could provide valuable strategic advice to growing brands. The biggest challenge for us was how to turn our concept into a business and help clients build better brands (from product development to operations to marketing).
Q. What does Ortega specialize in?
Outside of shipping the product and customer service concerns, we specialize in a full-funnel, long-term strategy. From helping clients develop new products to account management to contract negotiations to marketing strategies to operational efficiencies – we do a little bit of everything. Ultimately, our goal is to help our clients identify where the gaps are and find new opportunities. Every brand has different strengths and weaknesses and we identify those unique inputs in each business. Covering all critical inputs consistently leads to scalable long-term growth.
Q. Over the past several years we’ve seen more and more brands heavily investing resources into growing their Amazon program. As a result, there’s been a proliferation of former Amazonian-led agencies pop up to fulfill this demand. How does the marriage of Tinuiti and Ortega break the mold and offer new value propositions to brands?
I get this question a lot. I think it’s a fair question to ask because brands are educated and now they know there are several different agencies to choose from.
Tinuiti–already a leader in Amazon marketing and retail media–is one of the largest Amazon partners with over $400 million in media under management and billions of attributed sales. Tinuiti was cited as having one of the strongest eCommerce offerings in The Forrester Wave™: Performance Marketing Agencies, 2019. In 2014, Tinuiti developed MobiusX, an AI-enabled technology that drives campaign and vendor performance at scale and is one of the most sophisticated marketplaces and retail media technologies on the market.
Few organizations have a true seat at the table with clients and Amazon, and even fewer have the reputation that Tinuiti has. We wanted a partner that could not only offer complementary services to our clients but could also allow our expertise to scale.
This deal further solidifies Tinuiti’s market position as Triopoly leaders. With the support of Tinuiti’s partners, the acquisition marks another step in the company’s strategic growth plan to deepen its expertise in marketplaces and retail media and to continue expanding its service of clients globally on Amazon.
The two businesses complement each other perfectly. Now, we can offer our clients premier technology as well as an omnichannel-based strategy. The lines between Amazon and all other digital marketing channels are starting to blur and brands need to be thinking in terms of strategy across all digital channels versus in silos. And that is just one of the many reasons Tinuiti is a good fit for us and our clients.
The State of Amazon Growth Strategy
Q. Following the pandemic, we saw what happened when existing systems got pushed to the limits (and unfortunately, many businesses did not survive). Why is a holistic approach to Amazon Strategy more valuable now than ever before?
The pandemic obviously had a direct impact on various sectors of the economy. Covid-19 fast-forwarded the need and the adoption of the ecommerce industry 20 to 25 years into the future. Companies that were already future-proofing themselves (from the perspective of logistics, pipeline, shipping, their ability to establish evergreen products and top sellers, sourcing, and keeping products in stock) are winning today.
The companies that were not forward-thinking and only operating based on current sales cycles and traditional brick and mortar way product management are struggling to keep up.
When I think about ecommerce, I think about Amazon. There’s Amazon and then there’s everybody else. There are a lot of companies trying to nip at Amazon’s heels and some are gaining a bit of traction but ultimately Amazon is far ahead of the competition.
More than ever before consumers are in front of their screens. Even if they are not purchasing directly from Amazon, we know they are using Amazon to validate pricing and reviews. Having the right marketing set up on Amazon is absolutely critical today.
Q. What are some of the most common challenges or oversights facing vendors today?
As soon as brands start gaining traction on Amazon, they want to accelerate sales without necessarily investing and spending time improving their Amazon operations/infrastructure. Obviously, on the back end, we have to look at whether these brands are ready to scale and grow. We look at whether they are investing in the right products and if they offer a core evergreen product selection.
Although issues like chargebacks and inventory shortages will not necessarily prevent growth, they will prevent profitability within that growth. The biggest oversight we see is a lack of understanding of what it takes to improve your operational health.
Q. Many brands have tasked their Marketing headcount with growing sales on Amazon. What other roles should be involved in order to maximize their value from the channel?
Marketing is just one input to the overall success of an Amazon business. Product development, customer service, investment in inventory, forecasting, and a strong supply chain (warehouse, import) are critical to support marketing efforts to achieve Amazon’s success.
Q. Any specific tips you can offer on how to prepare for big shopping events such as Prime Day, Back to School, or Holiday Sales in Q4?
A few things are critical here:
- Long-term inventory planning
- Strong promotional plan (Coupons, S&S, price discounts, Ad budget, external traffic drivers)
- Have your content and detail page and brand store flawlessly executed long before big events
- Don’t wait until Prime Day to drive conversion and organic search results. (It’s too late at that point)
To learn more about the recent acquisition, check out Tinuiti’s feature in the Wall Street Journal.