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Amazon Marketing Cloud: Flexible Shopping Insights

Amazon continues to innovate and provide advertisers with powerful ways to reach and understand their target audience. One such method is Amazon Flexible Shopping Insights, a feature of  Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC). To better understand this feature and its potential, we spoke with Colin Bashor, the Director of Paid Media at Envision Horizons, who oversees […]
Written By Tristan Williams
Published on April 3, 2024   |7 minute read

Amazon continues to innovate and provide advertisers with powerful ways to reach and understand their target audience. One such method is Amazon Flexible Shopping Insights, a feature of  Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC). To better understand this feature and its potential, we spoke with Colin Bashor, the Director of Paid Media at Envision Horizons, who oversees the advertising department and has been using Flexible Shopping Insights for the past three months.

What is Amazon Marketing Cloud?

Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC) is a suite of analytics tools provided by Amazon to help advertisers gain deeper insights into their advertising campaigns and customer behavior on the Amazon platform. It allows users to securely analyze and combine their own first-party data with Amazon’s insights, enabling them to make more informed decisions about their marketing strategies.

With AMC, advertisers can access and query large datasets using SQL queries, allowing them to uncover valuable information about ad performance, customer journeys, and purchasing patterns. This data can be used to optimize ad targeting, improve campaign efficiency, and enhance the overall effectiveness of their marketing efforts on Amazon.

What is Amazon Flexible Shopping Insights?

Amazon Flexible Shopping Insights is an additional paid data set that provides access to information about organic purchasers, expanding beyond the limitations of Amazon Marketing Cloud, which is focused on paid or ad-attributed customers. As ad expert Colin Bashor explains, “By using Flexible Shopping Insights, we can include organic customer interaction data in our AMC analysis and custom audiences.”

Using Flexible Shopping Insights for Organic Cart Abandonment Retargeting

Flexible Shopping Insights is a powerful tool that allows advertisers to target customers who have organically added products to their cart but have not yet made a purchase. This is a significant advancement from the previous capabilities, which only allowed the targeting of customers who had organically viewed product detail pages without making a purchase. By targeting cart abandoners, advertisers can reach out to customers who are further along in their purchase journey and more likely to convert.

Many brands already employ retargeting tactics on their direct-to-consumer sites or other channels, often in the form of ads or email marketing campaigns aimed at re-engaging customers who have viewed products or added to their cart without making a purchase.

It’s important to note that even without Flexible Shopping Insights, advertisers can target cart abandoners who have been attributed to a sponsored product ad or a DSP ad. However, the real game-changer with Flexible Shopping Insights is the ability to target organic cart abandoners as well. Colin shares that “This expands the targetable audience significantly, reaching customers who (in my opinion) are just as likely to purchase as those who were previously attributed to ads.”

View Re-Marketing With Flexible Shopping Insights

In addition to cart abandonment retargeting, Flexible Shopping Insights also enhances view remarketing capabilities. With Flexible Shopping Insights, advertisers can take view remarketing to the next level by targeting customers who have viewed Amazon product detail pages multiple times. For example, advertisers can choose to target only those customers who have viewed a product page two or more times, or even 3+ times. This level of granularity allows for focusing on a more engaged audience, as there is a significant difference in intent between a customer who has viewed a product once versus multiple times.

Flexible Shopping Insights – Exploring Other Targeting Capabilities

Beyond cart abandonment and view remarketing, Flexible Shopping Insights opens up a wealth of other targeting possibilities. Advertisers can create custom audiences based on various criteria and use them for their DSP campaigns. They can also pull reports to gain deeper insights into customer behavior and engagement.

Colin explains that one exciting targeting option is the ability to reach customers who have searched for specific terms on Amazon. For instance, a makeup brand could target customers who have searched for certain types of foundations. A skincare brand could target customers who have searched for specific ingredients like hyaluronic acid. These customers could then be served ads across various formats, such as streaming TV, online video, or static display ads. By targeting customers who have already shown interest in a particular product category or ingredient, advertisers can reach a warmer, more receptive audience and drive them back to their product detail pages.

“It’s really about improving your overall targeting capabilities. DSP’s targeting capabilities are pretty good, but the way that Flexible Shopping Insights and AMC let you work is even more advanced. You can get a lot more precise with your targeting, and Flexible Shopping Insights moves it from being limited to only people who were attributed to both ad-attributed and organic. Getting that organic customer is really interesting, as well as utilizing that data for lookalike audiences.” – Colin Bashor, Envision Horizons Director of Paid Media

Colin shared another use case for Flexible Shopping Insights- the tool enables advertisers to create lookalike audiences based on their highest-value customers. By identifying the top 15% or 20% of customers based on their spending, advertisers can create a lookalike audience that targets users with similar demographics, shopping behaviors, and other characteristics. This allows for expanding the reach to potential high-value customers who are more likely to be receptive to advertising and make significant purchases.

Amazon Flexible Shopping Insights Access and Limitations

To use Flexible Shopping Insights, advertisers need to have Amazon Marketing Cloud access. Colin emphasizes, “If you have AMC access, I would 100% utilize Flexible Shopping Insights.”

Additionally, to fully utilize Flexible Shopping Insights, advertisers need to have knowledge of SQL, a programming language used to interact with databases. Colin explains that this can be a barrier to entry for some advertisers.  “There are some instructional queries Amazon provides that you can use as a template, where you fill in fields such as your advertiser ID and the ASINs you want to target. Honestly, I think the primary barrier to entry for anybody who wants to start using this is knowing SQL or having somebody on staff who knows SQL to utilize the tool to its fullest extent.” he says.

For those who don’t have in-house SQL expertise, Colin suggests working with a full-service agency like Envision Horizons or a company like Intentwise, which simplifies the data-pulling process and provides additional data visualization.

The Cost of Amazon Flexible Shopping Insights

Amazon Flexible Shopping Insights offers great value for the insights it provides, making it accessible and affordable for most advertisers. For brands already spending on Amazon DSP, the cost of adding Flexible Shopping Insights is relatively low, especially when considering the wealth of valuable organic data it unlocks. With AMC granting access to deeper shopper behavior insights and advanced audience targeting capabilities, the combination of AMC and Flexible Shopping Insights provides a comprehensive and cost-effective solution for optimizing your Amazon advertising strategies.

Colin explained “For Amazon Shopping Insights, when we looked into the price we found it was variable based on the amount of data that you were getting access to. For a brand doing millions of dollars per year, the price was only $300 a month to add the tool. Smaller brands might pay closer to $100 a month, and that’s still for significant amounts of organic data which is really valuable.”

It’s important to note that these prices may change in the future, as the tool is still relatively new.

Closing Thoughts

While the data is still early, Colin and the EH team are already seeing promising results from using Amazon Flexible Shopping Insights. “With add-to-cart customers, we’re seeing a much higher rate of click-through, much higher rate of conversion versus customers who had just viewed”.

As more advertisers begin to use Flexible Shopping Insights and share their knowledge, the potential of this tool will continue to grow. Colin believes that Amazon will also continue to enhance the tool and build more awareness around it. “I think it’s a pretty awesome tool,” he concludes.

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