Monday, March 27, 2017

Is Amazon in the Room?

By: Laura Sigman

This post was originally published on the LightSpeed Research blog.

On a recent earnings call, Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of Lightspeed’s parent company WPP, talked about what keeps him up at night. And no; it’s not (necessarily) his infant daughter – it’s Amazon.

“And I would just mention the rise of Amazon, because in answer to the question, my favorite question is what worries you when you go to bed at night and when you wake up in the morning. It's not a three-month-old child (laughter), it's Amazon, which is a child still, but not three months. And Amazon's penetration of most areas is frightening, if not terrifying to some, and I think there is a battle brewing between Google and Amazon.”


The fear mostly seems to be of the unknown, as Amazon is thought to be quietly pursuing an advertising strategy carefully away from the watchful eyes of Wall Street.

Is Amazon really committed? They are by pure virtue of their strategically evolving business model. By being among the first big players on the e-commerce scene, they cemented their early adapter consumers to them. They’ve grown a multimedia offer around their core competency, and now Amazon knows not only what we read, but what we search for, what we buy, what we watch, what we listen to. I’m an Amazon Prime customer, and I take advantage of all of the bells and whistles that come along with it. So they know what content I’m engaging with, and whether I’m connecting to the content from my PC, smartphone, tablet or Alexa. And they can leverage this vast supply of shopper and behavioral data to sell hyper-targeted advertising to brands who can then speak directly to me.

When you look at it like that, it’s really not much different than how we’ve worked in the panel world. Historically, we have facilitated the conversations brands have with consumers, and have evolved by taking advantage of emerging technologies to help amplify those conversations. And, like Amazon, we grew our business by embracing early on that panelists (consumers) are people, too. 

(Believe it or not, it’s not as obvious to everyone as that sounds!) Today’s consumers want to have meaningful interactions, but they also want to have them when and where is convenient to them. So we meet them on their devices of choice; we always design surveys mobile-first (in fact, Lightspeed has an entire team dedicated to this) and we use data appends to reach the right consumer with the right questions. We invite survey respondents to answer open-ends with video responses – an engaging experience for them resulting in more meaningful data for brands to act on. We’re able to blur the line between quant and qual, intercepting surveys with invites to participate in deeper, on-point conversations. And brands can leverage all of this to create hyper-targeted advertising that speaks directly to their consumers. Which ties back to that Amazon example I shared above.

As Kantar pointed out at their FragmentNation event, the marketplace is splintering -- not with a whimper but with a bang. So while the ad world should fear the Amazon in the room, it should also embrace it. It’s an eye-opening reminder that consumers are advertising’s most valuable assets in a marketplace that is more diverse and fragmented than ever.



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