No Cookies, No Problem – Is Amazon Signaling the Future of Advertising?

November 11, 2022 Chuck Kessler

No Cookies, No Problem – Is Amazon Signaling the Future of Advertising?

Advances in AI and Data Modeling are Leading Brands to Take Another Look at a Decidedly Old-School Marketing Strategy - Contextual Targeting! 

The internet in 2023 is a place that’s fraught with uncertainty and suspicion. 

For marketers, it’s been an amazing playground of glass houses without curtains. 

It all comes down to tracking, and targeting. 

I’m not sure that there are too many of you out there who love the idea of being followed around the internet by an increasingly intelligent machine, but, for advertisers trying to save money and only send their ads to browsers ready to make a purchase, 2021 internet was a very good place. 

That’s rapidly coming to an end. 

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Cookies are On Their Way Out as a Marketing Tool

Apple’s launch of iOS 14.5 brought with it a new initiative to return to users control over the way their data is aggregated and used by third-parties for advertising. 

Google is following suit and has indicated that it’s looking to entirely phase out the way that marketers can track their users in their Chrome Browser by 2024. 

Advertisers are less enthusiastic about the apparent demise of these capabilities as marketing tools. 

If it’s not clear by now, I’m talking about cookies. Not the delicious kind, but the small files, or snippets of information that a web server generates and sends to a browser. 

For a long time (in internet terms), cookies have helped advertisers better understand browsing and shopping behavior.  

Cookies give marketers a glimpse into what users might be thinking, and make it possible for websites to personalize the browsing and shopping experience. They give a sort of Xray vision that allow you to see how users move through your websites (or Amazon listings) and ultimately give you a good idea what you should be doing with your advertising campaigns. 

A Next-Level Audience Targeting Strategy

If an advertiser is using Behavioral Targeting, they monitor the user’s browsing behavior, then place ads based on their activity.

Cookies are what make that possible. 

However, clever advertisers are sourcing VERY similar information and doing it without cookies. 

Here’s how. 

Contextual advertising is the practice of placing ads on web pages based on the content of those pages. For example, if someone is browsing a site that advertises running shoes, they might be shown ads that advertise running shorts or a headlamp for those early morning outings.   

Instead of behavioral targeting’s reliance upon cookies, contextual targeting utilizes (accumulated) session data to determine a user’s intent and interest.  

Advances in AI and Data Modeling are Opening the Door to New Contextual Options

Although contextual targeting isn’t a new idea, exponential advances in machine learning, data modeling and artificial intelligence have all combined to supercharge contextual strategies so that they often match those of cookie-based targeting. 

Innovations to image recognition, predictive analytics, natural language processing, and neural networks have made for data sets that dwarf those of previous generations. 

And now, enterprise-scale companies such as Google and Amazon are crafting “data clean rooms,” ecosystems will help marketers distill, and cultivate that data even further. More importantly, they will allow for the continued growth of post-cookie advertising revenue. 

What are Data Clean Rooms?

Data clean rooms are technology services, or software that help content platforms keep first-person user data private when interacting with advertising providers. They provide “aggregated” data from “anonymized” user sets. 

That makes it possible for the clean room to furnish advertisers with valuable (non-identifiable) information allowing them to target a specific demographic or audience. 

What Will Data Clean Rooms Offer eCommerce Sellers? 

To begin with, data clean rooms are an enormous lever that will help advertisers measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts in a cookieless world. 

The combination of data clean rooms and contextual advertising’s new AI-enabled targeting capabilities will give advertisers a much better idea of advertising performance regardless of the specific ad platform they choose to use. 

Data clean rooms will help advertisers to:

  • Target increasingly relevant audiences
  • Optimize the experience of their site users with A/B testing
  • Take advantage of cross-platform strategies
  • Run deeper campaign analysis

Amazon Marketing Cloud Hints at the Future

Meanwhile, Amazon has been constructing their own proprietary clean room. 

Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC) is a secure, privacy-safe, and cloud-based clean room solution in which advertisers can easily perform anonymous analytics signals, including Amazon Ads signals as well as their own inputs. 

Amazon has constructed this on top of their robust Amazon Web Services platform that provides servers, storage, email, networking, remote computing and security to its users. AWS has quickly become a principal profit stream for the eCommerce giant. For example, Netflix alone pays Amazon 19 million A MONTH in fees to use AWS. 

Amazon’s Marketing Cloud dovetails nicely with their existing Attribution capabilities and offers a complementary and comprehensive view of an advertiser’s overall marketing attribution.

Amazon Marketing Stream

First launched for North America (United States, Canada, and Mexico) on June 21, 2022, Amazon Marketing Stream (now in Beta), is a service that delivers Amazon Ads campaign metrics and information to advertisers’ or integrators’ AWS accounts via a push-based model in near real time.

In October of 2022, Amazon updated this release and expanded AMS to all countries currently supported by the Amazon Ads API, with the exception of India. 

Amazon Marketing Stream is an Amazon product that delivers Amazon Ads campaign metrics and information to advertisers’ or integrators’ AWS accounts via a push-based model in near real-time. 

You can subscribe to campaign data sets available on Amazon Marketing Stream using your existing Amazon Ads API token and by providing your AWS account details. Once subscribed, Amazon Marketing Stream will deliver hourly performance metrics, with details such as targeting expression performance by placement and budget consumption messages in near real-time. 

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How CANOPY Management’s Amazon Ad Pros Can Help

One terrific thing about all this new data transparency and leveled-up technology is the accessibility. If there’s a problem with an ad campaign, it’s made it possible for Amazon sellers to “lift the hood” of their Amazon PPC advertising, roll up their sleeves and take a good look inside. 

Unfortunately, that first peek under the hood more often than not results in a lot of very puzzled expressions. 

Automobile engines, with their hybrid technology and twin turbos are not at all like the Volkswagen Westfalia that I could repair with duct tape and bailing wire. Similarly, Amazon advertising campaigns are a completely different animal than they were even 12 months ago. 

It’s one more reason why reaching out to an Amazon PPC Agency expert at CANOPY Management has become the first step for increasing numbers of eCommerce sellers looking to get to the next level. 

CANOPY Management is a full-service marketing agency for Amazon sellers. Our team consists of former Amazonians, multi-million dollar sellers, and award-winning experts. When you consider the many ways that CANOPY Management can help you grow your business, you’ll see why selling on Amazon is much easier “under the Canopy.”

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Chuck Kessler

I'm a western Colorado based trail runner, climber, surfer, and adventurer who loves to write. My focus is on eCommerce and technology as the Content Manager and SEO Strategist at CANOPY Management.