Q&A with Zach Johnson, Director of International Advertising Sales

28 September 2020

Zach Johnson is Amazon Ads Director of Global Verticals and International Advertising Sales. He is based in London and leads our advertising business across UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. A long-term Amazonian, Zach joined Amazon in 2004 at the company’s HQ in Seattle. We asked him to compare his experience of working in advertising across different continents, to tell us about his current priorities and to discuss the role that agencies play in Europe.

Does working in advertising in the EU differ from the US?

Overall, my experience has been that advertising in the EU does not differ that much from in the US. All of our advertisers, regardless of location, want to find, attract and engage with customers. Like us, our advertisers are committed to their customers, and that means providing impactful advertising and business solutions that are relevant at every stage of the decision journey.

However, what was perhaps not so apparent to me before my move here was just how different the process around planning was within each country. There is no “one size fits all” for pan-European campaigns. Every detail is translated and adapted to the individual needs of the brand and culture from which the solutions are activated. This is particularly true when it comes to building brands and driving awareness. These campaigns are about engaging with audiences and sharing messages that will resonate and help form a connection. We work very closely with our advertisers and their agencies to ensure that campaigns have the right tone, context and timbre needed for each country.

What are your current priorities?

One of the main priorities for my team is ensuring that advertisers are fully aware of all our capabilities. It is widely known that Amazon Ads can and does deliver on performance advertising. But we offer so much more. We are working hard to help all of our advertisers understand our full-funnel solutions that can support brand-building and drive connections with customers. This means that we need to double down on educating advertisers and the many functions within their organisation, as well as agencies, on the full suite of our products and services.

We want to help CMOs and VPs understand that Amazon Ads can help them deliver successful campaigns with a proven return on investment (measuring sales lift across all channels). We have to show planners and brands that we understand the shopping journey through our audience solutions. We want to demonstrate to the insights and research teams that our measurement and attribution tools can help them better understand the performance of their full digital media portfolio. And last, but by no means least, we want to demonstrate to creatives that our team of storytellers, design technologists and engineers can develop flagship customer experiences that capture customers’ attention. Amazon is known for delivering a great customer experience, and we take this to heart when building our business with each of our advertising customers.

You have mentioned agencies. Can you share more about your approach to working with them?

Agencies are important and relevant to Amazon Ads and always have been. We continually challenge our thinking in order to come up with new and innovative ways to work together with our agency customers.

We already have accreditation and training programmes in place and regularly spend time educating our agencies on our offerings. We are also working to offer more engagement and insight, so that we are servicing their needs in real time. We found that there is an appetite for additional insight into Amazon’s overall approach and how the retail side of our business works, as well as how to innovate with the many new technologies and customer experiences that are being created throughout Amazon. We are also continuing to better map our team to the common team structure within agencies. This is helping to improve knowledge-sharing and best practice. Moving forward, we are committed to further improving agencies’ understanding of our business and continuing to create success together.

Zach Johnson

    Fast five:

  • What are you watching?
  • Right now, my wife and I are watching The Boys 2 on Prime Video and The Fall on Netflix.

  • Dream holiday?
  • My family and I are currently dreaming of a summertime adventure through the Nordics. We are hoping that we can go next year!

  • Favourite Amazon purchase?
  • I have two recent favourites: firstly, my Apple Watch, which has massively helped me stay fit and active during lockdown. Secondly, I just bought a patio heater so that my family and I can continue to eat in our garden even when the evenings get colder in London.

  • Most listened to playlist?
  • I really like Live Phish on Amazon Music Unlimited.

  • What’s your favourite sport?
  • It has to be baseball. It is not so common here in the UK, but I still love it!