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Will Martin-GillWill Martin-Gill is the General Manager and Chief Strategy Officer at Kenshoo. He is a technology executive with extensive experience in product, digital marketing, and strategy. Will also has a proven track record of building and growing technology platforms, entering new markets, and accelerating the growth of existing businesses.

Before joining Kenshoo, Will was the Global Lead of Search Engine Marketing and Digital Marketing Strategy and Planning at eBay. He holds an MBA from Harvard and is an e-commerce expert.

 

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • The evolution of Kenshoo and how the company got involved with e-commerce advertising
  • Will Martin-Gill discusses the future of Kenshoo and its services for Amazon sellers
  • What does it take to build the best automation software?
  • The insights Kenshoo gives its users on ad spend and bidding optimization, and the company’s partnership with Profitero
  • Is Amazon cannibalistic to Google search budgets?
  • Will’s advice to brands on developing effective Amazon advertising strategies and campaign styles
  • Will shares his thoughts on how Kenshoo and other data companies will be evolving in coming years
  • How to get in touch with the team at Kenshoo

In this episode…

As technology continues to evolve, more data analytics companies have been springing up to help e-commerce brands gain a competitive edge on platforms such as Amazon. For many sellers, this data is crucial to their business success, as it helps them make better decisions on how to advertise their products and where to invest their ad spend.

Over the past 14 years, Kenshoo has helped brands up their game in online marketplaces thanks to its unparalleled data insights. The future looks promising for the company as more businesses enter the e-commerce industry, and the team at Kenshoo continue to improve their advertising tools to meet the evolving needs of online sellers.

In this episode of the Buy Box Experts podcast, Will Martin-Gill, the General Manager and Chief Strategy Officer at Kenshoo, is interviewed by host Eric Stopper about the evolution of Kenshoo and its future in the data analytics industry. They discuss the elements that make up the best automation software, the importance of testing Amazon campaign styles, and Kenshoo’s valuable advertising insights. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

Buy Box Experts applies decades of e-commerce experience to successfully manage their clients’ marketplace accounts. The Buy Box account managers specialize in combining an understanding of their clients’ business fundamentals and their in-depth expertise in the Amazon Marketplace.

The team works with marketplace technicians using a system of processes, proprietary software, and extensive channel experience to ensure your Amazon presence captures the opportunity in the marketplace–not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload.

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Learn more about Buy Box Experts at BuyBoxExperts.com.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:09  

Welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast we bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world.

Eric Stopper  0:18  

Welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast. This is Eric Stopper. Today’s episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. Buy Box Experts takes ambitious brands and makes them unbeatable. We’ve got a team of consultants and honestly, I know you’re stressed and I know you’re in your car or wherever you listen to this working out. Maybe you’re at your desk. There’s a lot of things that you need to learn about Amazon that are very very difficult and we want to be able to help. We’ve got a team of consultants to reach out to at the Buy Box Experts website. Click on the free analysis button and you’ll be connected with me or a member of my team. We would love to just be a sounding board and to help you understand how you can improve your Amazon sales. Go to buyboxexperts.com, and click on the free analysis button. 

This episode marks the final episode of our 10 part series with the geniuses at Kenshoo. We have talked about how Amazon advertising has evolved, and some of the limitations of the tools that Amazon provides to sellers. We’ve gone into great detail about how to position your brand on Amazon and how much advertising spend you need to do and what it takes to be a top tier advertiser on the platform Today, I wanted to tie everything together. So I bought in Will Martin-Gill, General Manager and Chief Strategy Officer at Kenshoo. He’s been with Kenshoo for almost nine years and was previously the global lead of search engine marketing and digital marketing strategy and planning at eBay. He has an MBA from Harvard, and for all intents and purposes, absolutely an e-commerce expert Will welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. Now, there’s a long history. You’ve been with the company for a while. So I’m really excited to talk to you about just what you’ve experienced and all the different markets that you’ve You’ve been able to traverse and get into. The first question that I want to ask is just like, talk to me about the evolution of Kenshoo. And how it got into e-commerce advertising.

Will Martin-Gill  2:11  

Yeah, perfect. I mean, Kenshoo was founded in 2006. And so this is our 14th year in operation. We started on the search side, really trying to help advertisers scale. What they were doing on Google I at the time was actually not a catch. I was at eBay. And I was you know, we were managing a huge program of 10s of millions of keywords times 26 countries. So there was no way to do that without software. And so Kenshoo was actually one of the platforms that we use to help us do that in some markets. We then kind of evolved into social folks that went on to build Facebook’s advertising business and asked us to come along and see if we could help advertisers also scale up on the social side and we built a pretty successful business there. And then in about 2016, maybe a little bit before then we had kept in touch with the folks at Amazon through the years they had done advertising for for many, many years. But they were contemplating a couple of big changes to go self serve to focus on sponsored listings versus just doing kind of the display side of the house. And that combined with the fact that Amazon as a platform had tremendous momentum really felt like they were in a great position to start to reinvent the way brands were connecting to their customers through retailers. And so we ended up starting the conversations with them and and and being one of the first to launch as soon as they had their developed API’s on the brand side, especially on the vendor side to be able to work.

Eric Stopper  3:56  

I’m really curious now that you have followed this effort of e-commerce. Even I mean, you’re looking at these at these big retailers as well. And you’re helping them gain data insights to help them diversify their portfolio of channels that they sell on and the data that they’re able to garner and use. I’m wondering from your perspective, with all the focus on brands that Amazon has in recent years, I mean, even in recent months, with the addition of DSP, with the addition of these stores and advertised stores, what kind of evolution Do you feel that Kenshoo is going to go through? How are you going to service at a brand level? That will really change the game for Amazon sellers?

Will Martin-Gill  4:37  

Yeah, I think I think it’s going to be a two pronged, right. One is, as you’re saying the types of advertising that Amazon is going to make available is is going to expand in addition to all the advertising that they can put around the product and the search experience, they obviously have a number of media properties, that they can also start to do everything from over the top digital video advertising to everything else. So I do think that some of the same challenges that folks have had an opportunity in really scaling up their programs are going to present themselves there and that we in partnership with Amazon, are hopefully going to be in a great position to help folks with it. I think second is that what we saw in both search and social was an evolution in that our platforms were very focused early on, really an automation and an optimization, meaning we wanted to save people time in the way that they manage their programs. And then we wanted to bring our sophisticated bidding algorithms to the table. I think the as more of those technologies become available to a broader set of folks brands are looking for a competitive edge brands are looking for a way to really differentiate themselves and I think it starts data starts to become that competitive edge, the idea that you would start to bring e-commerce analytics and A number of other types of data that traditionally haven’t been brought to making advertising decisions about how to set up your campaigns, where to invest, what to bid, etc. that connection of data points has a lot of opportunity. And we’ve gotten a lot of interest there. And we really beefed up our data science team, which was already pretty large, but through more folks and through partnerships, which we’re excited about.

Eric Stopper  6:25  

And one thing that I found that has just been absolutely fascinating is I’ve had the opportunity of interviewing a whole bunch of different software companies. And they all claim this or that AI machine learning, which I’ve learned recently is totally bogus. Like, I don’t think a single I don’t think a single advertising platform that I’ve looked at so far actually employs any remarkable form of machine learning but that’s, that’s a whole nother topic. All things the same. If a brand has pretty good brand marks, right, they’ve got good brand elements and good Colors and a good way that they talk good listings, right. And they have similar bags of money. And both of them have different advertising software. One of them being Kenshoo. And then the other one having a different one, it seems like in 2020 and beyond, it’s going to be a battle of the robots, right, the best bidding algorithm, the best automation tool is going to win the battle. And so what are the elements like what is the battlefield strategy for these robots? And what does it take to build the best one? How are we able to build our army better than all the other software’s out there? It doesn’t come down to the frequency of automation, does it come down to what types of data are used as input? I want to get your thoughts on that?

Will Martin-Gill  7:52  

Yeah, I think it’s a great question . Marketing has always come down to is it an art or Is that a science? Right? Is it the madman, 60s? Coming up with clever ideas that then resonate with folks in terms of messaging? Or is it as you said, the Battle of the robots and I think that our answers are probably a hybrid combination of both right and that the human element in the equation is not going to go away anytime soon. Because what we see time and time again, especially when you talk about algorithms that give you answers and help you make all kinds of decisions, they’re really good at being almost like a dog on a bone. You tell them what objective to optimize for, and they’re just going to go against that objective and do it at the cost of almost everything else. And even as you start to make those algorithms more sophisticated, so that they can solve for multiple objectives at once, they still don’t have the ability to see the bigger picture and solve for the bigger picture that a human does. And so I do think that especially as brands look for competitive Imagine to differentiate, you can’t just turn it all into the algorithms. All of that said, clearly, data feeding smart algorithms is going to be a huge weapon in that competitive battlefield. And, you know, one of the biggest differentiators that we see, we see a lot of companies out there that try to be very smart about mining data and putting data together. And then we see a number of companies that just automate the heck out of things and just make make the two, we think the feedback loop between those two is critical because at the end of the day, a lot of the insights they get created these days, and a lot of the business visualization are of the what I would call the comp, that’s interesting variety, which means you see the PowerPoint chart on a slide. You Wow, I learned something today I never learned before, but then you don’t know what to do with it. Or maybe you do know what to do with it. But there’s no way to kind of implement that quickly and do it To test and then feed it back and see whether your original hypothesis of what it was actually works or not. And so I do think that these closed loop systems that are able to both generate really powerful insights and recommendations, but then can execute them and feed that back to the engine to begin with, should have an edge in the future.

Eric Stopper  10:24  

That’s interesting. So the, and I’ve had the opportunity to use the Kenshoo tool now for my own brands. And I have to say that man, there’s just so much I was going through the demo like the guided demo to to understand how to use the tool and all of it in all of its entirety, and it seems like so much. I’m wondering for these brands that want to start gaining the competitive edge. What are some of the things that you would encourage them to consider about their advertising? Like what are the key metrics from the Kenshoo professional perspective, the big Minimum that these brands need to start looking at to identify that they have an advertising problem.

Will Martin-Gill  11:06  

Yeah, you know, we do have a fair amount of capability. I think we’ve invested a good amount over time to start to hide some of that capability for folks that are at different stages of evolving their program. And I don’t think that you need to know what every set of things does in order to get a lot of benefit out of a platform like ours. And we have a very robust training organization that has been created with the explicit purpose of helping people step up their use, out of a platform like ours, the biggest the biggest opportunity is the you know, first to starting to automate a lot of what they do and really trying To get really trying to get a lot of their program, beyond having to do things manually from a campaign setup perspective, from a billing perspective and that type of thing. And then from a metric standpoint, I think the number one metric that most folks are driving to is this return on investment return on ad spend metric, which is good, but in many cases doesn’t do two things. One, it doesn’t help you understand return at the margin, meaning one thing is the average return for your entire campaign. But the other question is, where is your next dollar best spent? And especially when you’re trying to figure out you know, across campaigns or even across retailers, now that you’re starting to have other options like Walmart, come into the picture with their advertising program, and others are lighting things up. The next question is, well, where should I invest what and and the Truth is that you need to focus on really trying to understand that marginal return so that you know how to shift your budget.

Eric Stopper  13:12  

And, and forgive me I haven’t. I haven’t been able to explore this in depth. But this can give that insight. Does that allow us to see the additional marginal return on each additional dollar and spend and give you insights as to which campaigns should have the most and spend allocated to them?

Will Martin-Gill  13:33  

Yeah, it’s one of the capabilities that we have in some of our bidding optimization. I think the most basic form of bidding optimization just helps you put the best bids for, you know, specific keywords or ad placements, where but the more advanced capabilities starts to create forecast for you and really helps you understand the potential pay and I used to have this problem with eBay all the time, I would get an extra $100,000 or in our case, you know, three million dollars towards the end of the quarter and say, Okay, go and spend the next four weeks in the best way possible. And you just, you know you at the moment, you got to figure out where those dollars are best spent at that point in time. And so at the time at eBay, I had the advantage of having a data analytics team that was over 10 people strong that would literally just take this and do all kinds of forecasts with seasonality with this and that my dream and coming over to Kenshoo was actually taking that capability and saying, It can’t be that you need a team of 10 people to help you develop sophisticated forecasting. And you know, just ways to understand where your next dollars are best spent. There’s gotta be a way to automate this. And so we did. And we’ve brought that capability. We developed it for search originally, but obviously there’s a lot of parallels on the Amazon side. And so we have brought that now and is available on the commerce end is one of one of the popular things that folks.

Eric Stopper  15:01  

Now you have a wealth of data inputs coming to Kenshoo. And you guys, you serve as much more than Amazon, I think that’s really important for people to understand is like this. This ties everything together. Right, your Facebook and your Google, I noticed that you had a partnership just announced with Profitero around data intelligence. Tell, tell me about this. What happened? What was the main focus? And what are you able to do now? How have you improved the tool with this with this partnership?

Will Martin-Gill  15:33  

Yeah, you know, we’re very excited for folks, Profitero, super sharp, folks, and we had been talking to them for a while, and we’re pretty impressed with the e-commerce analytics that they’ve put together. And, you know, they also were thinking about how some of the data and capabilities and insights that they’ve put together could be applied to the advertising space. And so you know, they have price comparison data of how you’re doing against your competition, assortment, data and catalog data, they also bring, and they’re very well known for some of the estimates and traffic that you get. Because as we know, Amazon doesn’t let you put your pixel on the amazon.com website. So although you might get some impression data from your ads and from your placements and things like that, you’re not necessarily going to have a clear picture of what the actual kind of traffic has been to your products, and then how that compares to other brands’ traffic’s and things like that. And so these guys have worked with a whole network of their own partners plus their own technology to come up with very, very good estimates for everything from traffic volume to sales volume of yourself of your competitors, plus other metrics that they bring in. And so, you know, we think that has applicability to a lot of different decisions that you can make differently. Everything from Which campaigns in which retailers you might want to invest in to how you might set up your campaigns to bidding. And so, you know, some very concrete use cases came up, for example, if you find a product in Amazon that has very high conversion, but low traffic, that might give you an opportunity to start to look at specific keywords to drive better traffic to the platforms. And so, you know, we think it can make folks a lot smarter as we get deeper into what this data can be used for on the advertising side. And so we’ve got the beta open and we’re excited to already be working with several brands on there, and we encourage others to reach out if they’re interested.

Eric Stopper  17:46  

Yeah, congratulations. I think that the data intelligence is going to become that that’s going to arise from that additional. I don’t even know a weapon in the arsenal that you guys now have is going to be invaluable. Now I wonder kind of on that same note, these companies who are looking to use your tool in our shopping around and trying to understand like, okay, which of these robots is going to give me the best feedback loop is going to empower my team to make the best decisions? I think they often wonder, okay, is Amazon stealing money? Is it stealing traffic? Is it stealing exposure from the other parts of my business? Right? I run an ad on Google and then Oh, hey, look, Amazon is the very top spot on the page bidding and and taking that spot. I wonder, are you seeing Amazon cannibalistic to Google Search budgets? And you know Who are these buyers and where the budgets coming from at these brands?

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