Trivium Group’s Mina Elias on Amazon Advertising Trends

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For this episode of Expert Connect, I spoke with Mina Elias, founder of Trivium Group, about trends in Amazon advertising. This episode was recorded at Prosper Show 2022 in Las Vegas. Watch or read the conversation below.

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Sreenath Reddy: Mina, it’s good to have you. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your company, and what you do.

Mina Elias: My name is Mina Elias. I’m the founder of Trivium Group, which is an Amazon advertising partner. So we are basically an extension of other brands who are selling on Amazon, and we help them with PPC [pay per click], DSP [demand side platform], and all of their Amazon advertising needs.

SR: How has the conference been so far?

ME: Conference is amazing. I mean, it’s super cool to reconnect with everyone. We’ve been talking online a lot on LinkedIn, so it’s good to see people in person, and [hear] a lot of the cool things and new things coming up. I see a lot of new software also coming up, and it’s also a nice chance to see what everyone is struggling with, if everyone is on the same page, or what people are doing different—a lot more than just having one-on-one conversations. So it’s been awesome.

SR: Any big learnings, like “aha” moments?

ME: Yeah. I think the aggregator movement really opened up a lot, and I think now you have to build your business sharper than ever. So I’ve been talking to a lot of brands, a lot of aggregators, and brands who have sold to aggregators. You can no longer kind of just grow an Amazon brand haphazardly. It really has to be calculated. Your books need to be clean from day one. You need to kind of have the end in mind. So if you’re launching at a loss all the time, understand that the aggregators are going to look at that and say, “This is not a good growing business,” and you’re never going to have that exit. So that’s been eye-opening. And then it’s also really cool to see that there has been a lot of new software pop up on the scene. I think that there’s a lot of money coming into the industry, and so it’s becoming more mature.

SR: So I guess let’s call it preparedness for an acquisition—seems like a big theme for sellers.

ME: For sure.

SR: Looking at 2022—you obviously spent quite a bit of time on Amazon ads, search, DSP. What are some big trends to keep an eye on and any suggestions and best practices for sellers?

ME: I’m really noticing that there is becoming a cap on how much you’re able to advertise. So I advertise on my own brands as well, and we’re noticing that at a certain point, there’s a point of diminishing returns. There’s also the issue with cash-flow cycle, where I’m increasing my revenue by 10%, but I’m delaying the amount of cash that’s coming into the business, and it’s starting to hurt. So what I’m seeing—and this is all because of the additional Amazon ad inventory, and so everyone is advertising now. So really starting to hit a limit.

There needs to be a lot more investment in organic ads. Using PPC to rank organically, and then also tapping into DSP to go upper funnel, basically people who have never seen you, or are not searching for your product or don’t have that need. Starting to target them, bringing them into the funnel. So maybe they were never thinking about buying your product, but now they’re considering it, and then you start retargeting them, and they eventually convert. So I’m seeing that just being a search intent sort of product, where people are looking for that product and you convert, it’s starting—there’s a lot of competition. It’s starting to go away. And I think you have to start acquiring your own customers.

“You can no longer kind of just grow an Amazon brand haphazardly. It really has to be calculated. Your books need to be clean from day one.”

—Mina Elias, Trivium Group
SR: Absolutely. Now you talk about DSP, so let’s dig into that a little bit. There’s been quite a bit of development around DSP, the targeting ability, the types of audiences you can go after. What are you doing in terms of best practices? What is your approach with DSP in terms of media deployment in support of search?

ME: In terms of DSP, I break out the orders by basically pieces of the funnel. So if you’re a product that you can buy multiple times, I have remarketing. Basically people who’ve purchased you in the past haven’t purchased in the last 30 days. And then retargeting, visited but haven’t purchased, and then competitor targeting, analog targeting, in-market demographic. And so every bit of the funnel I would say at least put $2,000 a month behind that budget. The only time ROAS [return on advertising spend] matters is for remarketing and retargeting, above that I’m only interested in click-through-rate and detail-page-view rate, and perhaps add-to-cart, because that’s where—the whole purpose of the upper funnel is to expose your ads to brand-new people, and then get them back in the retargeting in the remarketing. So I would keep those KPIs [key performance indicators] in mind.

The way I’m launching it is I’m launching the different funnel segments. I’m identifying which audiences are working and trying to be segmented as possible with your audiences. Obviously, you need at least 1,000 visitors a month for the audience to develop, trying to be segmented, whatever audience is working, keep it running. What’s not? Feel free to turn it off, test another audience.

Look at the placements, look at where you’re showing your ads inventory—if it’s Amazon owned and operated or publisher sites. A lot of times I’m not seeing good results with the publisher sites. So it really is kind of throwing everything out there, up there, and then seeing what works, keep it, what’s not working, cut it down, and then continuously adding more budget and more audiences and continue to test that. Also I found that responsive ecommerce performs way better than dynamic or still images. So I would really look at responsive ecommerce as where your images come from.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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