Amazon Unveils Brand Pages

Retailer plans to allow partners to cross-promote messages to Facebook

You no longer need to wonder what it would look like if Facebook and Pinterest had a baby, with Amazon serving as a surrogate. That's because Amazon is rolling out its own brand pages for marketers to set up social shop, as first reported by Techcrunch on Tuesday.

As might be expected, Amazon Pages takes the most popular—and widely imitated—features from Facebook and Pinterest and wraps them in Amazon’s merchandising design. The top of an Amazon Page is home to a Timeline-esque image that can include a product visual, which users can click to add to their Amazon shopping carts.

Below that banneresque image, brands can run one of three format templates: All Products, Posts With Merchandising and Posts Only. The first two templates include a merchandising widget that lets brands display either product images with an “Add to Cart” button or links to products; featured products and links seem limited to items available on Amazon. Underneath the merchandising widget, brands have the option to display a shoppable product gallery or a posts feed.

Wait, isn't Amazon all about e-commere? Why do its partners need yet another outlet to showcase and sell their goods? Well, the fact that brands can publish posts may be one key reason.

As with any social media presence, Amazon Pages let brands act as publishers, posting content, such as images, products or links. Though posts are limited to 140 characters, they cannot be cross-published to a brand’s Twitter feed. However brands can cross-post to their Facebook Pages.

It remains to be seen whether Amazon Posts featuring products will include a “Buy” or “Add to Cart” button and whether those buttons would also appear when published to Facebook; Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It will be interesting, and quite revealing, to see how Facebook reacts to this sort of cross-promtion, given that company's apparent commerce ambitions. After all, it's worth asking whether the ability to cross-publish product posts is Amazon’s Trojan Horse to preempt an e-commerce push by Facebook.

“Whereas Amazon is already a trusted commerce platform, Facebook has yet to prove that the model works there or that people will buy from Facebook,” said Matt Wurst, director of digital communities at 360i. “It may be a preemptive measure, but at the very least, it’s a great way to let users promote their Amazon/brand experience through the social graph, telling their friends what they bought, and potentially driving others to Amazon.”

Rather than getting ahead of Facebook—or potentially Pinterest were the social scrapbooking site to set up an e-commerce marketplace—Amazon’s aim here may be in maintaining relationships with the brands it sells. Amazon is a competitor for many retail brands and “giving these brands a more official platform on Amazon will reduce the amount of cannibalization from resellers,” Wurst said. Amazon already lets brands such as Levi’s and Sony run Brand Stores on its domain, and Pages seems like a social outgrowth of that, though Amazon has not said whether it would combine the two.

Pages and Posts are two of three free products unveiled under the umbrella title Amazon Marketing Services. The third, an analytics dashboard, capitalizes on Amazon’s closed-loop view of product marketing so that brands can measure pages’ and posts’ “reach, views, considerations and purchase lift,” according to Amazon. But Amazon pointed to the more intriguing analytical possibilities in the Amazon Marketing Services User Guide, in which it teases the ability to give brands insight into their audience’s shopping behavior.