Celebrating creativity, innovation, and brand building: 5 insights from 10 award-winning campaigns

December 08, 2023 | By Jeff Cohen, Amazon Ads Tech Evangelist

Amazon Ads Partner Awards

At unBoxed, the annual Amazon Ads conference, we announced the 10 winners of the 2023 Amazon Ads Partner Awards. The Partner Awards is a program that honors and celebrates the bold, creative work that agencies and technology providers continue to deliver for their clients. Recognizing visionary campaigns, the awards highlight Amazon Ads partners’ tactical and technological acumen across our suite of products. I was inspired by the creativity, inventiveness, and precision of the campaigns these partners designed to help their clients—several of which were dealing with challenging situations.

This year’s winners define what it means to go above and beyond, driving the metrics that matter most for brands in categories such as Performance, Challenger, Global Expansion, Technology Innovation, and Creative Brand Building. Their achievements reflect the power of collaboration and commitment in achieving great results for their clients across regions and verticals.

I was curious about what they were doing that worked so well, so I decided to do a bit of digging. Here are some tips that we can learn from.

1. They crafted compelling brand stories.

Several of our winners went past traditional advertising by incorporating documentaries and multimedia content into their campaigns. Through the power of compelling storytelling, these cross-channel additions gave consumers a deeper connection with these brands. For example, iProspect was tasked with promoting a new digital bank account designed to reach the attention of young millennials and adult Gen Zers. To engage ING Group’s customers, the agency used a two-phase campaign. The first focused on a branded documentary they promoted on Prime Video and Twitch. The second phase involved aesthetically similar audiovisuals promoting the bank account itself, directing viewers to a targeted landing page that received over 900,000 views.1

Similarly, VMLY&R Commerce and Stackline came up with a plan designed to help consumers connect the great outdoors with General Mills for Earth Month. They curated nature documentaries on Prime Video before spreading awareness of the campaign with Fire TV ads. For every hour watched, General Mills donated a dollar to the National Park Foundation, and after Amazon matched those donations, the campaign raised $100,000.2

In both cases, the partner’s creative approach helped consumers engage emotionally with the brand’s values before they ever suggested a purchase or commitment of any kind.

2. They mapped strategy to the customer journey.

Isolated campaigns are less cohesive, and less successful, than integrated strategies that start with awareness before moving to consideration and conversion, an approach many Partner Awards winners seemed to embrace. Global Overview offered nut-butter brand Pip & Nut a coordinated strategy: They used Sponsored Brands video and Sponsored Display, for product targeting and audience targeting, respectively. In conjunction with Amazon DSP display campaigns to reach new audiences from category keywords, Pip & Nut brought in new-to-brand (NTB) shoppers during high-traffic seasonal events. This full-funnel approach led to an 871% increase in total ad-attributed NTB customers for their client.3

These orchestrated strategies ensure messaging stays relevant as audiences travel from discovery to purchase. This is how O3M Directional Marketing helped long-established lingerie brand VNH Naidu Hall revamp their online sales strategy, despite the complex challenges of standing out in a crowded marketplace within a limited budget.

To reach a younger adult audience, O3M combined awareness-building Sponsored Display placements with conversion-focused Sponsored Brands ads, using complementary messaging tailored to the consumer journey. The result was a win-win: a 121% increase in NTB orders while also dropping the ACOS by 23%. 4

These are both great examples of how ad products can work in combination with one another to drive the desired result.

3. They identified that localization is key for global expansion.

Companies looking at international expansion need partners who can combine global vision with local execution, tailoring, and fine-tuning campaigns for each country. The Global Expansion Award winner, Podean, used Sponsored Products and Amazon DSP (as well as their own retail-powered media framework) to help their client e.l.f. Cosmetics build sales in the U.K. and Canada.

Their work highlights how investing in thoughtful localization and optimization can allow brands to successfully navigate local complexities to expand in international marketplaces—and how growth in a new country doesn’t have to diminish sales energy in an established one. During this campaign, Canadian sales grew 131% YoY, U.K. sales grew 60%, and U.S. sales, which weren’t even the focus of the campaign, increased by 97%.5

4. They fostered a testing culture.

With Amazon Ads regularly launching new features and capabilities, innovative partners who are willing to experiment with emerging formats and placements can see success. Award winners regularly exhibited creatively integrating origination while measuring effectiveness—committing to ongoing improvement through testing, tweaking, monitoring, and revising based on insights. The winner of the Technology Innovation Award, Xmars, powered by SparkXGlobal, most obviously exemplified technological optimization. They used their sophisticated and user-friendly AI tools to automate campaign creation and monitoring for their client Sunnydaze Decor, netting the home decor brand a 408% increase in ad-attributable sales in just two months. 6

But optimization doesn’t always require automation. For instance, Adbrew’s meticulous inventory segmentation for lingerie brand Clovia enhanced targeting and made a significant difference to the lingerie brand’s reach despite a robust array of existing options for customers. By niching down, they went big, incorporating high-value product characteristics into Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Products campaigns.7 In addition, Venture Forge tied ZENB’s ads closely to their hero product’s unique attributes and benefits and managed to make a yellow-pea pasta the second-best-selling pasta brand on Amazon during the campaign period.8

5. They strategically allocated resources.

When brands have a limited budget, they will typically focus on performance-based campaigns. For example, despite the limitations imposed by a small budget, Lab 916 concentrated their client KOBO’s Sponsored Brands ads on terms and products, ensuring the highest likelihood of KOBO candle sales. This allowed them to concentrate on getting the best possible ROI.9

Supplement brand Tru Niagen turned to Ad Advance to help them grow their subscriptions with a special emphasis on NTB sales. Their dual appearances on a Deal of the Day and a homepage takeover paid off with the brand’s most successful sales quarter ever, thanks to Ad Advance’s capitalizing on insights gained through Amazon Marketing Cloud to optimize their sales approach. 10

My take? These Amazon partners showcased the power of creative, customized, and metrics-driven strategies. The award-winning campaigns illustrate the power of blended strategies: combining creativity and storytelling with localization, technology-enabled optimization, integrated funnel planning, strategic budgeting, sophisticated targeting, innovation, and a laser focus on sales growth.

Here are my questions for you: What can you learn from these partners? How can you apply these insights to your business?

I can’t wait to see how technology providers, agencies, and brands continue to raise the bar with Amazon Ads.

The 2023 Partner Awards winners photographed in New York City on October 23rd

The 2023 Partner Awards winners photographed at the Partner Awards gala in New York City on October 23, 2023

The case studies, insights, figures, results, and other data presented here were based on the extraordinary performance of the winning campaigns featured in the 2023 Amazon Ads Partner Awards. The information provided is intended as observation and commentary, not as a recommendation or advice. Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance.

1 iProspect, ES, Sept 5–Nov 20, 2022; n=98% unique reach
2 VMLY&R Commerce and Stackline, US, April 1–26, 2023; n=impressions: >500M; NTB: >55%, $100K donation from General Mills to National Park Foundation
3 Global Overview, US, July 1–Oct 31, 2022; n=sponsored ads; impressions: 53,162,546; clicks: 201,984; DSP impressions: 91,707,458; cumulative reach: 2,403,817; clicks: 172,248
4 O3M Directional Marketing, IN, March 1–30, 2023; n=9,190 clicks
5 Podean, US, UK, CA, May 1, 2022–April 28, 2023; n=167% YoY impressions
6 Xmars, US, March 1–April 30, 2023; n=impressions: 288,111,926 (SA+DSP); clicks: 859,088; DSP cumulative reach: 1,361,296
7 Adbrew, IN, Nov 1, 2022–April 30, 2023; n=988,674,600 impressions, 99% increase in NTB sales
8 Venture Forge, UK, June 1, 2022–April 30, 2023; n=79,000,000 impressions and 159,000 page views
9 Lab 916, US, Nov 1, 2022–April 30, 2023; n=2,557,258 impressions and 6,073 clicks
10 Ad Advance, US, Jan 1–March 31, 2023; n=225,530,090 impressions; 24,346,102 unique reach