Q&A: Fording The Amazon: A Marketing Adventure.

January 16, 2019

How The Basement is leveraging Amazon to disrupt the marketplace.


In his book Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business, author Ken Auletta pulls the curtain back on the sea change taking place in the marketing industry. Data-fueled strategies are driving purchase dynamics in ways never before possible. Targeted, data-informed strategies are engaging consumers farther down the purchase funnel than broad, traditional strategies which, while necessary for awareness and influence, are less motivating when talking consideration, purchase intent and, ultimately, the purchase itself.


Auletta sums things up by positing that Facebook knows what people want to buy, Google knows what people are searching to buy and Amazon knows what people are buying (and through their community and reviews platforms, why). It’s no coincidence that this dynamic lines up perfectly with the purchase funnel. It’s against this background that The Basement builds marketing communications strategies around turning insight into disruptive content that can be measured and optimized, down through the funnel. Among those strategies is our work with Amazon and the myriad marketing and sales opportunities it affords.



Mark Levin, The Basement’s Director of Marketing Platforms and Insights discusses our leveraging of Amazon, the power of the Amazon ecosystem and the successes we’re having in the space.


What’s the first thing you think about when you think “Amazon,” (and we’re not talking about the river).


I actually do think of the river, the expanse of it, the reach of it, the power of it and, just like the river, you have to marvel at it. Amazon is not just one of the world’s great marketplaces. It’s one of the great marketplace innovators.


You don’t think of Amazon necessarily for original content like movies or TV or web series, but they are a force. You don’t think of Amazon as a pure marketing platform, but it’s the fastest growing, taking advertising budgets from other marketing channels like Google and Facebook, as well as retailers like Walmart and The Home Depot.


Interestingly, Amazon is growing as a search platform in and of itself, something we’ve been able to take advantage of. And, when you factor in what’s happening with Amazon’s Alexa platform and the potential that exists in voice search, you quickly see why so many are investing in leveraging the technology.



We’re certainly no exception, with the work we’re doing with Schlage from a content development and search perspective. People are using the product descriptions, the enhanced content and the reviews as support for their purchase decisions, even if they don’t wind up buying on Amazon. But it certainly affords us a great opportunity at a juncture when so many are coming into the sales funnel so close to the actual sale.


And the scope of Amazon’s marketing power doesn’t stop there. Amazon’s web services (AWS) division, alone, is a wellspring of analytics, computing, IoT and robotics tools not to mention a world of applications, blockchain resources, Business Intelligence resources and even augmented and virtual reality technologies.


And rockets, don’t forget rockets. The sheer breadth of services offered by Amazon beyond retail is impressive.


Truly. Satellites, too. We’re hardly scratching the surface. We’re talking everything and the kitchen sink. Literally.”


Bringing things back down to Earth, and given the range of strategies and services available, what types of marketing initiatives are The Basement and Amazon working together on?


Everything, if Amazon offers it and it will benefit our clients, we’re in the know and weighing the benefits. From Sponsored Products to sponsorships and everything in-between, we’ve got a direct line to the Amazon team. Sponsored products and brands. Product support for our clients. Targeted on-site advertising and integrated retargeting strategies. Providing data insights and developing content driving to the Amazon Smart Life Roadshow. The development and distribution of enhanced A+ content, which by itself generates increased conversions – sales – ranging from 3% to 10%. Exciting stuff.



The takeaway seems to be that Amazon is a resource partner with whom we can engage really early in strategic development. Would you say that’s an accurate assessment?


Absolutely. Amazon, strategically, is also a valuable resource even higher up in the funnel. We engage with Amazon on a wide range of strategic initiatives. Business Intelligence on platform engagement and success. Creative and content development in what is quite a specialized channel. Supporting trending initiatives based on targeting data. Digital media. We’ve immersed ourselves in the channel.


As I said, people don’t really look at Amazon as a search platform, but we were one of the early proponents who recognized that the search audience on Amazon was different than that on Google.  People searching on Amazon are farther down the funnel toward actual consideration and purchase so even a broad search on Amazon will deliver results closer to a sale. That’s huge.


It really sounds like The Basement is working with Amazon in a completely different way than one would expect. What’s the significance of that?


The industry is changing, that’s for sure. Constantly learning. Adapting. For The Basement, it’s so beneficial to actually get to be at the table with industry innovators as new data-driven strategies are developed. Right from the start.  Amazon, Google, Facebook ­– they’ve all given us direct access to their people and platforms, working with us as both resource partner and as a media customer.  So we can take advantage of every opportunity a partner like Amazon affords.


For example, we have unprecedented access to Amazon’s search platform and DSP and we are given access to Amazon data that allows us to serve ads outside of their platforms. We were also among the first to be offered a sponsorship for Amazon’s Thursday Night Football for our client Schlage. It’s been a great partnership.



Speaking of Schlage, do you have an example of how you’ve been able to leverage this partnership on their behalf?


At last count, our client partner Schlage had thousands of SKU warehoused by and for sale on Amazon. It’s one of the largest available selections of Schlage door hardware in the world. Everything from padlocks to smart locks. The opportunity for making the most out of Amazon as a marketing platform supporting the brand and maximizing sales is really unprecedented. There are few strategies available to us that we’re NOT taking advantage of.


We’re in the unique position, given our relationships with Amazon and a world-class company like Schlage, to be able to contribute from the outset with data insights and business intelligence but then see that learning through to paid advertising, A+ content, video content for mobile, search – you name it. Supporting Schlage as a sponsored brand and its door hardware as sponsored products opens up a world of possibilities to us from a marketing perspective. And we’re taking advantage of it.


What has been the biggest benefit to come out of this relationship?


By far, whether you’re talking about what we’re doing with Amazon or, really, what we’re doing in general in support of data-informed strategies, the biggest advantage of having an insights-driven marketing communications strategy for our clients is the ability to tie revenue directly to the strategies we’re employing. Advertisers are now able to make a direct correlation between what they invest in marketing and how much they sell, bottom line. In the case of our partner Schlage, their marketing initiatives have been effectively paid for by incremental revenues generated by those programs. By a factor of 3x.


Part art. Part science. That’s the nature of today’s evolving industry, with new tools complementing the traditional in the crafting of strategies, campaigns – and stories – that get results. The Basement’s work with Amazon is just part of a much larger adventure tale.

George Evans
Director of Brand & Content Strategy

I'm a writer by vocation, a marketer by profession and I've been telling brand stories for nearly 40 years. The channels have changed, but the fundamentals of spinning a good yarn are timeless. Our grasp of this is why I joined The Basement in 2016, following 10 years at the helm of my own shop. We have great stories to tell.

Mark Levin
Director of Marketing Platforms and Insights

Mark provides support to the team in the form of data analysis, campaign planning and optimization, as well as research and discovery of tools which can aid in the execution, analysis and/or optimization of any part of the advertising process. He has executed more than  3,500 successful ad campaigns across more than a dozen industry categories.