Written by Bruno Gralpois
With Amazon’s HQ2 investment in Long Island City, just a stone’s throw from Madison Avenue, many are paying attention to how this will impact the company’s advertising footprint. While still significantly smaller than peer industry heavyweights Facebook and Google, the e-commerce and digital-marketing giant is expected to generate up to $19 billion in ad revenue by 2020.
With such a large share of e-commerce transactions going through Amazon, it’s hard for anyone in advertising to resist the temptation to be active on the platform and advertisers and agencies alike are frantically working to navigate the offering. To address these challenges and any future growth prohibitors, Amazon recently unified its disparate ad-business units—Amazon Media Group, Amazon Marketing Services and Amazon Advertising Platform—under one brand, Amazon Advertising.
But in Seattle, we’re fortunate enough to have advertising industry expertise that is enabling our ability to become the next advertising industry nerve center, mostly fueled by Amazon’s rapid and powerful entry into the advertising business.
With strong and specialized skill sets dedicated to working with Amazon products and services, agencies now are focused on Amazon centers of excellence and opening offices in Seattle. Some of these agencies offer media planning and buying, e-commerce optimization of display advertising, sponsorship, paid search, or data and analytics services, which rely heavily on an intimate, technical knowledge of the Amazon offering.
For example, with a roster of more than 40 Amazon-trained and approved agencies and tools developers, a brand looking to build “skills” on Amazon’s Alexa voice technology can now tap into these valuable and experienced resources like Seattle-based Rain, which combines creative, strategy and engineering. It means that advertisers can rely on partners with the strategic and technical know-how to truly execute successful campaigns. From there, the brand has an easy pathway to enhance its go-to-market strategies and flex its new “Alexa skills” through both endemic and non-endemic paid advertising.
Many Amazon-only agencies and consultancies have established offices in the city to best serve clients on the Amazon platform, such as WPP-owned agencies Possible and Marketplace Ignition, part of the Wunderman Commerce company and its family of specialized commerce agencies. Advertisers should expect to see more agencies setting up shop in the Emerald City. They’ll follow firms like WONGDOODY, GreenRubinom Hunt Marketing Group, The Garrigan Lyman Group and others who eagerly made Seattle their home.
Bottom line: Expect to see large brands building the necessary talent and relying on their internal teams to independently pursue these advertising opportunities with tech players. The Amazon advertising phenomenon will fuel tremendous talent growth in the Seattle area in the future, as it did for the largest ad tech players —Adobe, Facebook and Google—in Silicon Valley.
Advertising is an incredibly dynamic, fast-moving industry, with new entrepreneurial concepts and indie shops opening every day in tech or cultural hubs like Paris, London, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles. Thanks to Amazon’s trend of working directly with brands on advertising deals, cutting out the middleman in the process, expect increasingly to see Seattle on that list in years to come.
Bruno Gralpois is the principal and co-founder of Agency Mania Solutions and author ofAgency Mania 2nd Edition: Harnessing the Madness of Client/Agency Relations for High-Impact Results, due out in early 2019. Gralpois is recognized as a client/agency relationship guru and advisor.