Marketers, Let's Face the Amazon Skills Gap

April 11, 2019

This article originally appeared in MediaPost.

Amazon is quickly becoming the third advertising pillar that will effectively disrupt the established dynamic of the Google and Facebook duopoly. This is hardly a surprise, given that Amazon’s platform serves as a homepage for internet users.

But marketers are not necessarily prepared for the intricacies involved with advertising on Amazon — in fact, a recent Digital Marketing Institute study highlighted a growing level of concern among marketing professionals. Nearly three out of four professionals surveyed said they were concerned about a digital skills shortage in the industry, and 71% are experiencing that skills gap within eCommerce marketplace selling (e.g., Amazon).

So what makes Amazon advertising so different from the methods employed with Google and Facebook ads, and how can marketers ensure they have the specific skills set to build these campaigns?

What gives Amazon an edge at capturing ad dollars is the fact that the conversion — the sale of product — occurs right there on the Amazon platform after the user clicks on the ad, while Google and Facebook only direct traffic to the advertiser’s website where the conversion later takes place. (Sidebar: Google has tried to course-correct with Shopping Actions recently.) This shortcut makes advertising on Amazon extremely attractive to many direct-response advertisers, especially those in the retail vertical.

With growing interest in Amazon advertising, marketers who are equipped to efficiently manage every aspect of ad campaigns on Amazon are in high demand. Finding the right people to hire, however, proves to be a challenging task.

Amazon advertising is still new to the market — the official learning console was launched as recently as Q4 2018. Much like Google Academy for Ads and Facebook Blueprint, the learning console offers courses of study materials about Amazon advertising and an accreditation program where marketers can take a test and earn a certification. As a result, the recruitment pool for candidates with Amazon advertising experience is very small.

To combat this industrywide skills gap, brands and agencies should groom existing digital marketing personnel to fill the role.

Amazon advertising shares a number of similarities with tried-and true digital advertising disciplines. Marketers with display advertising experience are likely to ramp up with little trouble on Amazon’s programmatic ad-buying solution, Amazon DSP, while search marketers should be able to quickly learn Amazon Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands.

For these two Amazon ad types, products need to be assigned to campaigns in addition to keywords, so those who are experienced in product feed management and in Google Shopping or Facebook Dynamic Product Ads have already acquired relevant knowledge that can be used as a base for success.

Still, there are some added layers unique to Amazon Advertising, such as Retail Readiness, in which marketers have to make sure that inventory, customer ratings and reviews are high enough for the products to get listed. This requires marketers to be trained from the ground up.

While every organization has limited time and resources to train their employees — regardless of whether they’re new hires or existing ones — making Amazon advertising a priority can pay off big time.

Warut Yompool

Marin Software
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