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Amazon Attribution Explained for Ad Sales

    Almost all valuable data resulting from ad campaigns hinges on good attribution. If you don’t know which ads are effective, any other data pulled is of limited use. Amazon defines attribution as the assigning of success to an ad that a customer was exposed to before taking a desired action, such as a purchase.

    The article will explore the ad types available on Amazon, how attribution can vary depending on ad type and the different reporting functions. It will also explain how to use Amazon Attribution and the need for analytics tools to help deliver analysis and insight.

     

    Types of PPC ads

    For Amazon Seller and Vendor advertisers, there are three main PPC (pay per click) ad types available: Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Display

    Sponsored Products

    Sponsored Products are keyword-related. Typically, you would choose Sponsored Products if your goal is targeted product sales.

    How it works

    You choose keywords to target or let Amazon’s systems target keywords automatically. You control how much you want to spend on your bids. Sponsored Brands are keyword-targeted ads. The ad typically features up to three relevant products and are displayed at the top of search results, on the left-hand rail, and the bottom of page of search results.  

    Sponsored Brands

    Sponsored Brands, like Products, are keyword-related. Brands are typically used for general product sales and building awareness of your brand. It is available for Vendors, agencies and Sellers enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry.

    Sponsored Products are available for Sellers, Vendors and agencies. In order to advertise, products must be in a category that is ads eligible and eligible for the Buy Box.

    How it works

    Sellers use Sponsored Brands for several reasons, from generating awareness of a new product to promoting seasonal items or creating more demand for something selling well. Your keyword strategy can be tailored to your goal. Generic unbranded short-tail keywords can attract new customers, while branded keywords can defend your market share.

    Sponsored Display

    Sponsored Display ads are targeted at buyer behaviour, typically in the form of a banner ad. Sellers use Display ads to build awareness, for general product sales and retargeting.  Like Brands, it is available for Vendors, agencies and Sellers enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry.

     

    How it works

    Sponsored Display is the most recent addition to the Sponsored Ads trio. Unlike Sponsored Products and Brands, Sponsored Display doesn’t target keywords, but customers based on their shopping behaviours and interests. It adds top of funnel capabilities to target shoppers based on product categories, and middle of funnel capabilities to retarget audiences who showed interest in categories related to your promoted product but didn’t buy.

    You can set up these re-engagement campaigns to reach customers browsing on or off Amazon. You can also create competitive campaigns by targeting the detail pages of specific products or product categories on Amazon.

    Amazon DSP

    Like Sponsored Display Amazon demand-side platform (DSP) offers advertising opportunities off-Amazon, as well as on Amazon, helping to drive external traffic. Advertisers can buy display and video ads on sites which have partnered with Amazon. Unlike Amazon ads, DSP has advanced targeting features including on geographical location and demographics, allowing for granular targeting options.

    Within the DSP console is a new function, Amazon Attribution. Still in Beta, Amazon Attribution is specifically aimed at tracking the performance of Amazon ads on non-Amazon channels. It measures page views, purchases, and sales driven by external campaigns. It also captures wider traffic outside Amazon marketing channels, including Facebook ads. An email marketing campaign, for example, could generate traffic that would be captured here — not just ad traffic. For those with higher marketing budgets, Amazon also provides more customization, for example video ads and customized display ads.

    Sponsored Ads is often used alongside DSP by Amazon FBA sellers to help then advertise their products and gain information about how they are performing.

     

    How Amazon attributes ad success 

    If you’re a retailer on Amazon, you’ll want to compare how your PCC ads are performing, including against eachother.

    If your goal is to drive brand awareness, you’ll want to pay close attention to your impressions; this will give you a sense of how much awareness you are driving with your campaigns. If your goal is to drive sales, you’ll look at your conversion rate to see how much of the awareness generated from impressions is converting into sales.

    You’ll also need to pay close attention to your average CPC (Cost-Per-Click). It’s important to understand that your CPC on Sponsored Brands can vary based on different placements: ‘Top of Search’ compared with ‘Other Placements’, for example.

    When a user clicks on one of your ads and buys a product within a certain time period, the “sale” is attributed to that campaign. Amazon uses a last-touch attribution model to try to account for factors such as how the customer interacted with the ad.

    New-to-brand metrics

    Amazon’s new-to-brand metrics enables Amazon Advertising to provide display, video and Sponsored Brands advertisers the ability to measure and optimise campaigns by determining whether an ad-attributed purchase was made by an existing customer or one buying your product on Amazon for the first time (over the last year). 

    With ‘new-to-brand’, you can access campaign performance metrics such as total new-to-brand purchases and sales, new-to-brand purchase rate, and cost per new-to-brand customer. This tool will help estimate the cost of acquiring new customers on Amazon and identify the most efficient channels and tactics to achieve ”new customer” campaign goals.

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    Halo sales 

    Halo sales are sales that your ads have influenced across your entire brand portfolio — not just the ones you are promoting through PPC. They form part of the sales attributed to a Sponsored Ad campaign and indicate that buyers are purchasing items outside the one that they originally clicked on.

    If included in your figures, halo sales can have a positive effect on your ACoS as Amazon will attribute more sales to your advertising campaign. But while halo sales are an important indicator of whether your ads are making an impact in other areas, you have to take into account how they are attributed and be aware of that in your analysis.

    Limits of attribution

    Unfortunately, Amazon tracks attribution differently depending on the ad types and platform you’re using.

    For Vendors and Sellers, the Sponsored Brands attribution window is 14 days, meaning all transactions made within that time frame, after clicking on an ad, are added to your sales report. For those with API access, however, you can choose 7, 14 or 30 days. For Sponsored Products, the timeframe is 7 days and the advertiser must be the seller of the product in question. If the item is distributed by another retailer, Amazon doesn’t include it in your campaign. 

    Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Display are similar, but the advertiser does not have to be the seller of the item.

    DSP also takes halo sales into account. However, they are not assigned based on ad clicks, but on visual contacts. The attributable period is 14 days.

    Getting at the data

    There are three different dashboards you can use to advertise on Amazon and therefore three different ways you can gather data on your ad’s performance.

    • Seller Central is the dashboard used by third party Sellers.
    • Advertising Console, formerly Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), is the dashboard Vendors use (1P/first party sellers).
    • Amazon DSP, formerly the Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP), run by the Amazon Media Group (AMG) is for larger advertisers.

    The key takeaway is to be careful with your analysis: compare apples-with-apples, as much as possible, over the correct time frame. If you don’t, you can end up comparing one KPI, say advertising cost of sale (AcoS), for campaign types intended for completely different goals over too short a timeframe. 

    For example, brand awareness and conversions are two separate goals with different KPIs, and campaign measurements should take this into account. Amazon even recommends that advertisers have two separate teams or workstreams — one that focuses on top of the sales funnel, and one that deals with bottom of the funnel. 

    Attribution on Amazon highlights that before you build or change your PPC ad strategy, you need to understand the data and how it is generated — especially when applying that to comparisons of CPC product conversion rates, or product profitability. 


    Attribution in a wider context

    Knowing what has been bought is great. Knowing who your customers are and what they are going to buy next is even better. Using Amazon data, you can build a far more detailed picture of who’s buying your products. When cross-referenced with persona categories, you can go beyond simple attribution of sales towards ‘buying trajectories’ and calculating your customer lifetime value (CLV).

    Buying trajectories 

    Buying trajectories show the likely order in which products are purchased based on the persona and initial product of purchase. The challenge is wading through the data provided by Amazon to create a live picture. Trying to manage this with spreadsheets will ultimately fail. The future of such data-driven decisions can only be provided by AI-based analytics tools.

    Customer lifetime value

    If you can use data to understand the lifetime value of a customer, based on the products they are purchasing, the impact is huge. For example, you can look not just at that product’s margin but also at the value of acquiring that new customer and the ads that contributed to building that value. In a competitive marketplace, this can make all the difference. This is a challenge that is only surmountable with analytics tools. 


    Suggested Reading: To learn about customer lifetime value, read our eBook — How to Make Sense of Your Amazon Customer Data.

     

    Digging into the data

    Attribution and data analysis is about finding patterns. By understanding trends, you repeat success and mitigate failure. With enough data, you can even make accurate predictions about the future and take action to stay ahead of the curve. The less time your team needs to spend crunching the numbers, the more time they can spend making strategic decisions and driving traffic through data-driven insights. 

    Interpreting Amazon attribution data is complex and takes time. To stay ahead of the competition, it’s increasingly important to have top-quality analytics tools to help transform your Amazon data into strategy and results. And you need to be able to attribute actions so you can make the right decisions.

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