A Look at Amazon’s Growing Advertising Sales in India, China, and Across Asia

Amazon’s growing advertising business has raised a lot of eyebrows this year. The company said* it did about $2 billion in advertising revenue in the second quarter of 2018, and that number is generally expected to grow healthily as we approach the holiday season. Ad loads on Amazon search results pages appear very healthy, and Amazon has been attempting to make it easier for advertisers and agencies big and small to spend money on Amazon’s variety of advertising products by simplifying its advertising product branding.

We haven’t heard as much about Amazon’s advertising sales efforts in Asia, but we’re starting to. According to a report by India’s Factor Daily, Amazon ad sales in India are approaching $100 million (we assume this means annual run rate).

Online retailer Amazon has quietly built itself a high margin digital advertising business in India which is closing in on revenues of nearly $100 million, about 5% of money spent online by brands in India… “Amazon doesn’t have its own ad network and agencies don’t yet understand how to use advertising on an e-commerce platform,” said an Amazon executive who did not wish to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the press… Nearly 90% of Amazon’s advertising business in India currently comes from the programmatic and direct sales route.

Amazon is one of the most widely visited web services in India. According to Alexa.com (Amazon’s original and now lesser-known “Alexa” service, which tracks web traffic stats), Amazon.in is the fourth-biggest site in the country.

Ad loads on Amazon.in for popular queries are on par with those in the US. As one example, here are search results pages for “polo shirt” in India and the US, respectively (side note, Amazon private label brands are prominent in both search results as well):

Sponsored results for “polo shirt” on Amazon.in:

Sponsored results for “polo shirt” on Amazon.com:

Amazon continues to hire advertising support staff in Bangalore and Chennai, including those supporting advertisers in other parts of the world, such as Italy and China.

We’ve heard even less about Amazon’s advertising sales efforts in China, Japan, Singapore, and the rest of Asia. Anecdotally, ad loads for “polo 衫” on Amazon.cn show decent ad loads. But perhaps more telling of where Amazon hopes to go with its Chinese advertising efforts is Amazon’s current plans to ramp up its advertising sales staff in the country targeting Chinese advertisers.

Per Amazon.jobs, Amazon is hiring 18 advertising account executives and onboarding specialists out of its Shanghai and Shenzhen offices. These positions reflect the growing number of Chinese brands that Amazon is targeting to bring onto its platform – to reach customers both in China and around the world. Amazon is looking for people with, “Experience working with China-based brands.” As the listings state:

The Amazon Advertising team helps CN-based advertisers to reach Amazon customers globally: on Amazon, across our other owned and operated properties, on other high-quality destinations across the internet, and on millions of Kindles, tablets, and mobile devices.

In addition, Amazon’s onboarding specialsts are focused on helping Amazon’s self-serve/CPC advertising customers ramp up their efforts:

Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands are cost-per-click (CPC) self-serve ad programs in the Amazon Advertising world. In support to the Amazon Advertising’s business, we at Ad Success Team (AST) are building a group of energetic and highly motivated Associate Onboarding Specialists. As an Associate Onboarding Specialist, you will be responsible to help equip them to identify the Advertising business opportunity, review their product listings, create advertising campaigns and help them adopt high value actions on their account to influence their success in advertising.

In Meguro, Amazon Japan is staffing up its ad sales efforts as well, including Head of Vertical Sales for Amazon Media Group, Manager of Campaign & Creative Management, and several Account Executives. Amazon is staffing Japanese advertising onboarding specialists out of Shanghai as well.

Meanwhile, Amazon is continuing to hire ad sales staff in the US (primarily in New York) and Europe (primarily in London, Paris, and Munich), managing accounts, self-serve advertisers, and continuing to build Amazon’s DSP operation.

* Notes on chart above and Amazon’s filings:

  • In 2017 filings, Amazon’s footnote on “Other” revenue said: “Includes sales not otherwise included above, such as certain advertising services and our co-branded credit card agreements.”
  • In 2018 filings, Amazon’s footnote on “Other” revenue said: “Primarily includes sales of advertising services, as well as sales related to our other service offerings.”
  • Starting in 2018, Amazon said it made an accounting methodology change that resulted in an increase in “Other” revenue of $560M in Q1 2018: “Service sales also increased by approximately $560 million due to the reclassification of certain advertising services that were previously classified as a reduction of cost of sales.”

Follow TJI as Amazon continues to evolve its advertising products and the way it works with advertisers and agencies around the world.

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