Amazon today introduced AWS (Amazon Web Services) Elemental Media Services, a suite of video production and distribution tools that demonstrate, once again, the growing importance of video to local marketing and engagement. Elemental Media Services, like Azure Media Services from Microsoft and others, provide professional grade tools for virtually any organization to use. Enterprise capabilities have percolated down to Main Street, and local engagement has never looked as complex as a result. Video blended with messaging, email, web, app, and bot-enabled UX represents improved branding opportunities for small business and large.
Bringing that communication engagement smoothly into the transactional experience is challenging. Large brands have tended to produce for national or, at the most granular, regional audiences. Local media, however, requires local stories of success with products/services, as well as a form of influence that is easily shared. Video is ideal for this intimate connection, but it requires locally connected sales and influencer engagement to activate audiences based on personal and local influencer connections. People need to be involved, telling stories that can be promoted locally to establish authentic community bona fides — the notion that the brand is not only successful but that it is successful for people in the consumer’s community. These stories get shared, but they need a platform like Elemental Media Services for successful management and follow-through on sales opportunities.
Amazon’s dominance in transactions, which accounted for 2016 online sales, ties many sales opportunities to search and fulfillment by the retail giant. Indeed, MediaPost’s Marc Schader wonders if Amazon won’t dominate all marketing because of its growing search marketing influence: “Brands are quickly realizing that if they don’t start taking Amazon’s search capabilities seriously and get in on the “Amazon effect” now, they could find Amazon-owned brands overtaking their own market share.”
Which leads to the question for local retailers and service providers: Where to plug into local video marketing services? AWS and Azure, among others, have attractively priced video services, but Amazon’s comes with implicit and explicit tie-ins to Amazon’s retail search that could turn a local marketing investment into an Amazon marketing benefit — a local retailer’s advertisement could convert into an Amazon sale of the advertised product. This isn’t to say that Amazon video is necessarily a bad choice for local marketers. Instead, the system needs reporting tools that display clearly the transactional outcomes of local campaigns.
Recent movements among brand marketers to demand transparency in media results are another facet of this issue. Enterprise marketers, such as Unilever and P&G, now want to understand how their marketing spend benefits participants in their own and competitors’ supply chains. A transparent marketing environment will benefit consumers and marketers alike, but the advantage lies with the entity with the transactional opportunity, which is, in many cases, Amazon.