Building your brand: Q&A with Colleen Aubrey, Vice President of Performance Advertising

October 01, 2020

Today at AdCon 2020, Colleen Aubrey, Vice President of Performance Advertising, is taking the virtual stage. In advance of AdCon, we sat down with Colleen to learn more about what she’s working on, what the phrase “better together” really means, and what’s next for branded shopping experiences.

In yesterday’s blog, you shared one thing you hope advertisers walk away from AdCon remembering—your headline was, “Brand discovery is important to customers.”

For an advertiser who has focused primarily on performance-based tactics, like Sponsored Products, where would you suggest they start as they look to enable discovery, and build more brand awareness?

First, create your brand marketing foundation using Stores, Posts, Follow, and livestreaming with Amazon Live. These are free products that give you the building blocks to tell your brand story with every customer interaction. This is similar to getting your retail fundamentals healthy with product availability, price, and A+ detail pages.

Next, create a Sponsored Brands campaign using video, lifestyle, or Store spotlight creatives. As a shopper, these creative formats are much more compelling to me, and the opportunity to explore the full selection of your Store is so convenient. Video is also working really well. It captures my imagination. And it helps me learn more about brands and products. And this isn’t just the case for me—according to a third-party study, 68% of shoppers say they most prefer to learn about new products or services by watching a short video.1 Customer engagement with video creative is high and is meaningful in informing purchase decisions. This is why one of my favorite advertising products is Sponsored Brands video.

Can you share an example of a customer that has used Sponsored Brands video to help build their brand?

I’ll share two examples, because together, they illustrate how Sponsored Brands video can help you amplify your brand story, and do so in a way that doesn’t require a huge creative budget.

The first is Bizzy Coffee, which was founded in 2015 with the goal of making the best-tasting cold brew coffee in the world. Their story—who they are, what matters to them, and what they are trying to accomplish—is truly what makes them unique, so it’s been critical for them to find ad solutions to help voice that brand story. Sponsored Brands video became one of the key ways they’ve done that, and through their creative, have been able to highlight their catalog with high-quality, enhanced product clips—I can almost smell the coffee through their video. Adding Sponsored Brands video to their current always-on sponsored ads strategy has helped build awareness and boost brand recognition on Amazon.

The other story I’ll share is Genie; Genie were founded in 1923, and pioneered electric and remote-controlled garage door openers. Genie already had creative assets at hand from their display and video marketing campaigns, so using video creative builder, we worked together to turn those older assets into new creatives—this includes creating new cuts of older promo videos, and developing text-based explainer videos. Sponsored Brands video campaigns have helped Genie grow, exceeding their ambitious goals, and they have since added Streaming TV ads, also known as over-the-top (OTT) ads, to continue extending their story to new audiences.

How do performance products, like Sponsored Products, and awareness tactics, like Sponsored Brands video, display, and Streaming TV ads work together?

Sponsored Products does a very good job at reaching customers when they are shopping with a specific intent. Making your product discoverable at this time can be powerful. But customers are not always shopping with this specific intent, and this is where Sponsored Brands, display ads, and Streaming TV ads are able to extend your reach and improve your opportunity to be top of mind.

Focusing solely on converting specific demand using Sponsored Products means you are likely missing out on important opportunities to inform customer decisions and ultimately drive sales. Our products complement one another, so pairing our products together helps ensure brands are engaging customers at every stage in their shopping journey.

Take Osmo, for example—Osmo is a brand looking to meld digital play with physical play. They wanted to illustrate the value of their products within the toy category and promote a wider range of their products to shoppers browsing for learning toys, so they leveraged Sponsored Display. They then coupled Sponsored Display with brand awareness tactics, like Streaming TV ads, to scale reach across new audiences. This is one example of “better together.” Looking at your ad strategy holistically and incorporating tactics that support awareness down to purchase is the most effective way to grow your brand.

If a business is new to advertising and is looking for help creating and managing their marketing strategy, what would you recommend?

We work with a number of agencies and tool providers and are really excited about the work they are doing to support brands and advertisers. These businesses are providing more flexible and customized solutions that span advertising channels, and retail and order management, to name a few. The applications built by tool providers on top of the Amazon Ads API include machine learning and other automation that contribute to campaign performance.

To make it easy for the businesses to identify the right partners, last year, we launched the find-a-partner directory. Whether you need help with planning, developing creative, executing, or optimizing, you can find agencies and tool providers with expertise across a diverse range of advertising specialties. Those included in the directory have demonstrated a high level of engagement and proficiency with one or more Amazon Ads self-service ad products. Their tools and offerings have successfully helped brands manage and optimize campaigns to achieve their business objectives.

During AdCon last year, you talked about some of the foundational branding experiences we’ve designed to connect customers with brands, including Stores and Posts. How have those brand discovery products evolved over the past year?

I am pleased with the way brands are using these content marketing products, and the Stores and Posts teams are working hard to deliver more features, faster. I’m also pleased to see Follow launched. Once a customer "follows" a brand, they gain immediate visibility into updates coming from that brand, including new product launches, deals, new Posts, and when a brand streams via Amazon Live—making sure the customer doesn’t miss a beat.

Can you give us a look under the hood? What’s next for branded shopping experiences?

We’re always looking at ways to enhance the customer shopping experience, and because of customers’ affinity towards video, we’re experimenting with ways to incorporate and expand the way video is used in shopping and entertainment. We also understand how daunting and expensive developing creative can be for many brands, and are improving our creative capabilities, including making it easier to repurpose existing creative assets. Finally, we know how important reporting is to enable brands to optimize advertising investment, and are working on bolstering our video metrics.

It’s still early days here, but we’re excited to continue inventing new shopping experiences for customers.

If you have questions about how Amazon Ads can help you build your brand, reach out to your account executive or visit the Amazon Ads home page to learn more.

1Wyzowl - The State of Video Marketing, Jan 2020