Advanced digital platforms have increasingly heightened the shopping experience. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are both technological trends that enhance the buyer’s path to purchase, but they’re not yet ubiquitous among sellers.
Video is… or at least it can be. And, it’s becoming a highly effective tool for optimizing online shopping—from the very beginnings of product research all the way through checkout.
However, there are some “dos and don’ts” to consider when creating content specifically for Amazon’s Sponsored Brands video ads. In fact, Amazon is very inflexible about the technical and creative specifications required and can reject ads if they don’t adhere to those specs.
Here are some best practices sellers should follow, as well as the strict guidelines surrounding file size, video length, video/audio format, and more.
Allow for a Soundless Display
The most important best practice, according to Jeff Bundy, Client Success Director – Enterprise at Ideoclick, is that 70-90% of online videos are viewed with the sound off, so a video ad “should always be understandable on mute.” The videos are inherently designed to auto-play on mute, which solidifies a need to communicate the message via on-screen text.
Mobile presents a bit of a challenge in this regard, with its small display. Amazon’s guidelines recommend using Helvetica or a similar san-serif font at a minimum size of 80 pixels. Amazon also suggests displaying the text in white on top of a black bounding box set to 80% opacity.
Focus on Quality, Creativity (but also Simplicity)
Retailers with massive budgets can easily allocate funds for a highly-produced, “slick” video ad—but doing so doesn’t necessarily garner better performance. Per Bundy, “Anything in motion draws attention to otherwise static sites like Amazon.” Yet, companies should not forget about creativity and quality content. Even simplistic videos need these key components to be successful.
And, don’t forget to actually show your product and keep it prominent throughout. Fading in and out or using other “cinematic” techniques only take away from the short amount of time you have: a maximum 45 seconds, but recommended 30 seconds or less.
Know Your Audience(s)
Who is perusing your products? Consider tailoring the style of your video ad to meet your audience’s needs. While mobile use is up across the board, the younger generations (Millennials, Zoomers) are trending toward almost exclusively mobile over desktop. It’s important to ensure all videos are optimized for mobile, but certain products—ones that appeal to a younger audience—might dictate the video ad’s creative direction.
No matter the target audience, or the product, the end result should be a video that is educational, demonstrative, and product focused.
Adhere to Amazon’s Technical Specifications
While the above best practices are guidelines, Amazon does have some “non-negotiable” specifications. Not adhering to the following will get your video ad rejected.
16:9 aspect ratio1280 x 720px, 1920 x 1080px or 3840 x 2160px23.976, 24, 25, 29.97, 29.98, or 30 fps1 mbps or higher bit rateH.264 or H.265 codec6-45 seconds long500 MB or smallerMP4 or MOV fileMain or baseline profileProgressive scan typeOne video stream only
44.1 kHz or higher sample ratePCM, AAC, or MP3 codec96 kbps or higher bit rateStereo or mono formatNo more than one audio stream
Advance Past the Static
Product videos are not only in more demand among Amazon shoppers, they’re on their way to becoming the norm. If you want to keep up with competitors, it’s time to advance from a static presence to a more engaging, more memorable visual experience.
Learn More about how to drive effective Amazon Advertising campaigns.
About the Author: Brandon Titmus, Director of Marketing, is an ex-Amazonian, Amazon digital marketer, and eCommerce expert helping Ideoclick’s clients develop and implement effective advertising strategies.
Amazon Advertising’s big conference, AdCon 2020, is being held virtually this year on September 30th and October 1st. The event will bring together thousands of advertisers to hear inspiring keynotes, attend educational breakout sessions, and engage with experts. Ideoclick is proud to be a sponsor of this informative Amazon Advertising event. More information can be found on this AdCon 2020 event page.
Adapting Product Innovation Strategies to Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Realities
Retail has always needed to adapt to shifting trends in the marketplace. With the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies of all types have been forced to reassess marketing programs, product offerings, and supply chain strategies in warp-speed. Many companies have learned that product innovation can create wins in connecting with consumers during the new commerce landscape.
At the forefront has been a notion of “essentials versus non-essentials” and how manufacturers and suppliers approach the pandemic-induced transformation of shopping behaviors, manufacturing capabilities, and supply chain disruption.
“Innovation is going to be critically important across the board, as it relates to the essential category. I think there will actually be a push by a lot of retailers to expand offerings in those areas and then make room for that expansion in some of those higher-demand categories.”
Urea also noted that companies will have to “sharpen their pencils” as it relates to non-essential categories. Companies will have to account for progress in areas like differentiation and incremental category growth, as a part of what they are bringing to the table from a product innovation standpoint.
Refocused Product Development, Based on Consumer Needs
In terms of new product development, some companies have refocused their efforts. Sean Riley of Dude Products shared with the panel the example of his company’s Dude Bomb product, which was deemed non-essential throughout the depths of the pandemic. As a pivot, Dude Products launched an at-home bidet attachment to supplement the demands of the toilet paper supply craze that occurred at the beginning of the pandemic.
“It was important to step back and ask, ‘What is something core that the consumer needs, and how can we do that better?’ It’s almost going back to your roots, simplifying and then innovating your way back. [The bidet] was a way for us to double-down on innovating. We may have to pull back [certain] innovation dollars and redeploy them into what we do best.”
How Product Innovation Helps Connect to Your Consumer Base
One key point, specifically among retail brands, is being conscious of the messaging and content being promoted during the pandemic universe. Ideoclick’s Andrea Leigh referenced the dichotomy between Banana Republic, who was still deploying “work wear” digital advertisements and Anthropolgie, who immediately recognized the risk of appearing tone-deaf and created an entirely new lifestyle section on its website that covered things like working from home, sprucing up your home office, and creating WFH playlists.
“Where the innovation has to come from now is around messaging and content; being more timely and relevant. And, figuring out different ways to engage with customers, even though [companies] may not be in what’s considered an essential category. It’s not necessarily about products, but rather how you’re thinking about the customer and really understanding where they are at.”
Jessica Hauff of L’Oreal echoed Leigh’s sentiments about keeping the customer as the focus—and even redeploying internal resources in order to meet consumers’ needs.
“Hair color was becoming the new toilet paper. So many women were buying at-home hair color for the first time in their lives. But, it can be a very intimidating process. It’s messy, it smells, there’s a four-page pamphlet of instructions and warnings. We really ramped up content—especially digital content—around helping people pick the right shade, helping with their first-time application, how to follow it up.”
L’Oreal also utilized its tech center participants as company ambassadors, since those individuals were no longer able to go into a physical office. “They started creating content, doing live chats, webinars, etceterra with consumers. We just really tried to think about creative ways to connect with consumers and make sure they know we’re still here,” added Hauff.
SKU Rationalization: Keep the Discussion Going
With many retailers (supermarkets, drug stores, some “bigger box” retail players) grappling with the essential versus non-essential argument, session mediator Kevin Coupe of Morning News Beat raised the very pertinent and prudent question about reducing SKU count. All panel members agreed this approach is not simply black-and-white.
Riley proposed that certain suppliers can actually benefit from a bit of diversity, instead of “betting the farm” on two or three big brands—citing the shortage of toilet paper and related items. “I agree about making the selection simpler. But, suppliers that don’t have a lot of diversity in one category—[leads to] why they ran out of toilet paper and flushable wipes. Suppliers that carry more brands were actually able to serve the customer better.”
For retailers that are still very focused on a brick-and-mortar presence, Leigh cautioned they are going to need a reason to draw people back into the stores. “If they really shrunk their assortment, I think they run a risk. You have to do what you have to do, but you also have to be careful about what you’re cutting and why.”
Hauff reinforced this necessary balance, based on customer-centricity and the costs involved with supply chain issues and in-store stocking. “Each [retailer] is going to find this a bit differently. Take Target, which people think of as a place to go and discover new brands; new products. For them, not to offer that breadth of assortment wouldn’t be in line with their positioning in the marketplace. Other retailers that are more of a replenishment mindset, they probably have an opportunity to scale back.”
Message of the Day: Be Quick on Your Feet
As all panel members look to the future, they are cautiously optimistic about pandemic recovery—but are also cognizant a post-pandemic recessionary period is likely inevitable. Ultimately, a company’s ability to nimbly adapt and implement change will determine its continued success in the months, and years, to come.
We have multiple Amazon updates for sellers (both Seller Central and Vendor Central) we wanted to make sure you’re aware of this week.
Although an official date for Amazon Prime Day has not yet been announced, communication from Amazon Vendor Central explains that POs for approved Prime Day deals will begin in August. Our estimation is that Prime Day will be held during the first or second week of October.
For Seller Central clients, plan to start increasing your inventory position on FBA four to six weeks prior to October 1st.
For Vendor Central clients, Amazon stated that you should expect to receive POs for approved deals in two phases starting at the beginning of August.
FFP/SIOC Chargeback Grace Period Extension
Amazon has announced that it will extend its grace period on the SIOC minimum dimensions chargeback. The SIOC exemption rule will now be effective 1/1/2021. For visibility to which ASINs are likely to be eventually affected, you will notice them under “waived” status in Vendor Central chargeback notices. The main point is that the baseline SIOC requirements have not changed, meaning that an ASIN with packaging larger than 18″ x 14″ x 8″ or greater than 20 lbs will require SIOC FFP certification.
Please be aware that in preparation for holiday and due to the COVID pandemic, Amazon intends to apply storage limits to sellers using FBA . The limits are expected to extend to all product categories. Starting today, Amazon is removing its inventory removal fee to accommodate the new standards. This is expected to alleviate some supply chain constraints, but we don’t have information on how long the new inventory regulations will apply.
Seller Central Visibility
Along with other Amazon updates for sellers, the company has announced that U.S. based 3P sellers must now disclose contact information publicly. The decision should help brand manufacturers identify and shut down the sale of counterfeit or unregulated goods as well as identify unauthorized sellers.