Is Amazon in the Room?

By: Laura Sigman

This post was
originally published on the LightSpeed Research blog.

On a recent
earnings call
, Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of Lightspeed’s parent company WPP, talked
about what keeps him up at night. And no; it’s not (necessarily) his infant
daughter ‘ it’s Amazon.
‘And I would just mention the rise of Amazon, because in
answer to the question, my favorite question is what worries you when you go to
bed at night and when you wake up in the morning. It’s not a three-month-old
child (laughter), it’s Amazon, which is a child still, but not three months.
And Amazon’s penetration of most areas is frightening, if not terrifying to
some, and I think there is a battle brewing between Google and Amazon.’
The fear mostly seems to be of the unknown, as Amazon is
thought to be quietly
pursuing an advertising strategy
 carefully away from the watchful eyes
of Wall
Street
.
Is Amazon really committed? They are by pure virtue of their
strategically evolving business model. By being among the first big players on
the e-commerce scene, they cemented their early adapter consumers to them.
They’ve grown a multimedia offer around their core competency, and now Amazon
knows not only what we read, but what we search for, what we buy, what we
watch, what we listen to. I’m an Amazon Prime customer, and I take advantage of
all of the bells and whistles that come along with it. So they know what
content I’m engaging with, and whether I’m connecting to the content from my
PC, smartphone, tablet or Alexa. And they can leverage this vast supply of
shopper and behavioral data to sell hyper-targeted advertising to brands who
can then speak directly to me.
When you look at it like that, it’s really not much
different than how we’ve worked in the panel world. Historically, we have facilitated
the conversations brands have with consumers, and have evolved by taking
advantage of emerging technologies to help amplify those conversations. And,
like Amazon, we grew our business by embracing early on that panelists
(consumers) are people, too. 
(Believe it or not, it’s not as obvious to
everyone as that sounds!) Today’s consumers want to have meaningful
interactions, but they also want to have them when and where is convenient to
them. So we meet them on their devices of choice; we always design surveys
mobile-first (in fact, Lightspeed has an
entire team dedicated to this
) and we use
data appends
 to reach the right consumer with the right questions. We
invite survey respondents to answer open-ends with video
responses
 ‘ an engaging experience for them resulting in more
meaningful data for brands to act on. We’re able to blur the line between quant
and qual, intercepting surveys with invites to participate in deeper, on-point
conversations. And brands can leverage all of this to create hyper-targeted
advertising that speaks directly to their consumers. Which ties back to that
Amazon example I shared above.
As Kantar pointed out at their FragmentNation
event
, the marketplace is splintering — not with a whimper but with a
bang. So while the ad world should fear the Amazon in the room, it should also
embrace it. It’s an eye-opening reminder that consumers are advertising’s most
valuable assets in a marketplace that is more diverse and fragmented than ever.