For marketers, Amazon is a bit like the Australian Outback. The sheer vastness of it all is daunting and while it may appear from the outset that it is a wasteland for brand marketing, dig a bit deeper and you'll find there are vast and growing resources like IMDb Freedive and Amazon Fire TV -- just like the Outback's valuable reserves of gold, silver, uranium and copper. Equally, like the Outback the enticing landscape and sheer scale hides an equal amount of danger -- the "snakes and scorpions" -- for marketers if they don't have the proper guide to get them through.
Enter Travis Johnson, a native Aussie who is President of Sellwin Consulting, Dentsu Aegis Network's U.S.-based marketing consultancy. He is dedicated solely to helping marketers understand and take advantage of all the intricacies of Amazon from a marketing communication, shopper marketing and media perspective. To do this, he has brought together the "best of the best" from all relevant areas at Dentsu Aegis Network, including e-commerce experts who have led teams from R/GA; leaders on businesses like L'Oréal, eBay and Luxottica; media experts from Carat, and data experts from Merkle. As an umbrella organization, Sellwin Consulting can tap into all relevant resources across the Dentsu Aegis Network global organization.
He is the kind of guy who is on 24/7 and has been throughout his career. Johnson and his team are 24/7/365, just like Amazon. They have a passion and drive to bring marketers successful, efficient and future-forward tools to sell product. "I am drawn to trends in the market, building a team and growing that team to beat the competition," Johnson said. With their successes in programmatic, mobile and innovation, make no mistake that they are in it to make sure that their clients win, and win big.
For Johnson, the focus on Amazon actually began in 2017. While in a previous innovation role, he was part of a team working on Miller Coors, which spearheaded an effort allowing consumers in select markets to order beer via Amazon Echo by simply saying "Alexa, get me a beer!" They also created a custom Amazon Dash button that would order and deliver beer with a push of the Dash beer tab on your fridge.
Those experiences, along with Amazon's increasing focus on advertising revenue via the growth of Amazon OTT, including Fire Stick and Instant Video, led to Johnson discussing his idea of an Amazon-focused consultancy with Dentsu Aegis Network's CEO, Nick Brien. Brien was quick to embrace this given the ad agency world very much saw Amazon as the next big advertising platform.
For Johnson, now is the perfect moment for clients to engage with Sellwin Consulting. "Amazon is at an inflection point where it's balancing retail and now advertising," he said. "They are realizing the revenues and opportunities in front of them. Marketers are perplexed and challenged on how to be successful on a platform that has so many facets to it. And, as an agency, we have many parts of our business, such as iProspect in terms of search, Amnet in terms of programmatic and Isobar in terms of content, that have all been touching Amazon without an overarching strategic unit that can pull the right parts to meet client needs. Amazon is very complicated and it's not just advertising or media properties. Clients need help with all of it together, which is why Sellwin Consulting was formed."
Johnson truly believes in the potential of Amazon to build brands and that marketers' budget allocations towards that have been underserved. "A lot of the market still sees Amazon as a retail, transaction, bottom-of-the-funnel advertising platform," he noted. "I talk about their OTT inventory, which is substantial. They have Thursday Night Football for the NFL and they'll continue to partner with content and sporting properties. I don't think many advertisers see them that way."
In addition to brand building, Johnson also believes that few marketers are aware of the tremendous sampling opportunity that Amazon provides. "Advertisers don't see that you can sample your products or have Amazon send, on your behalf, direct mail pieces to the exact right audience via Amazon's data and targeting capabilities," he said. Johnson believes that this lack of exposure to the full capabilities of Amazon marketing has led to an under-investment in the platform.
While Amazon's focus on advertising has increased over the past few years, there is no mistaking where their bread and butter (literally) is, and that makes the role of Sellwin Consulting critically important in managing ideas and expectations on both sides. "There is still a notion of church and state between the advertising and the retail divisions in companies, and between the advertising and the retail divisions at Amazon," Johnson explained. "Our clients need partners that bring these two things together."
Given reports of Amazon reaching out to marketers over the past few weeks with multi-million-dollar advertising proposals, Sellwin Consulting's core focus on Amazon could be a valuable hedge in ensuring that clients optimize the value and impact of the relationship across all aspects of Amazon's offering. Sellwin Consulting's multi-faceted model seems like it brings in many of the necessary components in increasing the value for the marketer. And optimizing value and impact is exactly why Travis Johnson is in this to win it.
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