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.

Amazon Planning to Expand Its Private Label Efforts in Japan

While much of the focus on Amazon’s private label brand initiatives is on their efforts in the United States, Amazon has been growing its private label and exclusive brand offerings across its European and Asian markets as well.

Now, Amazon is planning to invest in additional expansion of its private label efforts in Japan, as evidenced by multiple job listings and a growing number of private label goods appearing on Amazon Japan.

As of today, AmazonBasics remains the broadest private label Amazon has launched in Japan in terms of SKU count by far. However, recently Amazon has also launched its Happy Belly (grocery and beverage), Solimo (household goods and foods), Mama Bear (diapers), Wickedly Prime (grocery), and Presto! (household goods) brands as well.

Like it does in other markets, when a search on Amazon Japan includes Amazon private label items in the results, it highlights those items with a gray box and “Our Brands” label. Here are a few examples of how these tiles look on Amazon Japan for Solimo tuna (“sea chicken”), Mama Bear diapers (“baby pants”), Happy Belly water, and Presto baby wipes.

  

We would not be surprised to see Amazon introduce private label and exclusive brands specific to the Japanese market, as it has done in other regional markets around the world already.

Based on several job listings posted earlier today, Amazon is planning to invest in significant staff expansion to power its growing private brand efforts in Japan. These follow several job listings targeting Amazon’s growing Japanese grocery efforts a few weeks ago.

The new Amazon Japan private brand job listings include:

  1. Sr. Category Manager, Private Brand
  2. Sr. Category Manager, Consumables Private Brands
  3. Product Manager, Private Brand
  4. Marketing & Customer Insight, Private Brand
  5. Head of Hardlines Private Brands
  6. Instock Manager, Private Brand
  7. Instock Manager, Consumables Private Brands

The above job postings note:

“Amazon is looking for an experienced, talented and enthusiastic Senior Category Manager for Consumables Private Brands (CPB) to manage selection expansion for number of categories for Private Brands business for Consumables in Japan.”

“Private Brands is a long-term growth opportunity for Amazon. So far, Amazon JP CPB has launched its brand 5 brands (Happy Belly, Wickedly Prime, Presto!, Mama Bear, and Solimo) as Amazon owned brands within Consumables, and are also looking to expand our foot-print into new categories, including Amazon-exclusive vendor owned brands under Amazon Accelerator program.”

“Amazon Basic is now considered strategically important at the global level, and it is expected to be a big Growth Potential as the Priority Growth Division.” (Disclaimer: this quote is a Google Translation from the listing’s original Japanese)

“The Amazon Consumables Private Brands team is creating a global portfolio of premium consumables products to meet Prime customers’ daily needs.”

“Amazon is looking for an experienced, talented and enthusiastic team leader of Hardlines Private Brands to manage selection expansion for number of categories for Amazon’s Exclusive Brands and Private Brands business for Consumables in Japan. As a leader, you will be responsible for managing private brands with the best possible commercial and legal terms. You will also be responsible for hiring and building a high performance team of experienced team members and growing volumes and margins. You will develop a partnerships with retail category teams in Japan and the various functions in Japan and US. Private Brands is a long-term growth opportunity for Amazon. We are also looking to expand our foot-print into new categories.”

Increasingly, Amazon views its private label efforts with a global purview. Amazon wants to increase customer loyalty amongst Prime members through private brands around the world, and ultimately generate increased margins in the long term. It is building a brand portfolio and global infrastructure to support that effort.

Follow TJI as we continue to track Amazon’s private brand efforts in Japan and around the world.

Above image credit: Amazon Japan

Amazon Hiring for 67 Alexa Automotive Engineering and Design Roles

Yesterday’s Echo product announcements were primarily focused on the home, but Alexa Auto made it into the lineup as well. While Amazon didn’t spend a large portion of its press event talking about its automotive plans, it is currently hiring for dozens of engineering design roles as part of its Alexa Automotive efforts.

Amazon is working with a variety of car manufacturers on Alexa integrations and announced the Auto SDK back in August.

Currently, Amazon.jobs shows 67 Alexa Automotive jobs currently open. The vast majority are engineering and design roles. Senior architect, software development, language specialist, VUI design, and QA roles are largely based out of the Santa Clara office, while other research scientist and marketing roles are generally based in Seattle.

Automotive acoustics engineer and product management roles are based in Sunnyvale, and partner manager and design technologist roles are based out of Munich and Tokyo. Several engineering roles are also based in Toronto and Gdansk.

Amazon Continuing to Invest in Japanese Grocery Efforts

Last year, Amazon launched Fresh, its grocery delivery service, in Japan. Since then, Walmart and Rakuten partnered to take on Amazon in grocery delivery, though the service hasn’t launched that we’ve seen. (Walmart also owns Seiyu, a top supermarket chain in Japan, but is reportedly interested in selling it due to slow growth.)

Amazon Fresh Japan’s coverage area has been growing since launch. Initially, it covered a half dozen districts in Tokyo. Now, Amazon Fresh Japan delivers to “18 districts and 2 cities in Tokyo, 17 districts within 2 cities in neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture, and 2 cities in Chiba Prefecture.” Amazon says it delivers over 10,000 foods and daily necessities.

And Amazon is continuing to grow its Amazon Fresh Japan staff as well. Per Amazon.jobs, we are seeing several Amazon Fresh Japan listings:

  1. Senior Product Manager, Customer & Delivery Experience
  2. Vendor Manager, Grocery
  3. Brand Specialist, Grocery
  4. Buyer, Grocery
  5. In-Stock Manager, Amazon Fresh
  6. Area Manager, Fresh

Grocery is an extremely tough nut to crack, with low food prices, low delivery prices, and highly perishable inventory. We’ll be tracking Amazon’s Japanese grocery efforts as they continue to invest in this market.