Just in time for the holiday shopping blitz, it looks like Amazon is opening a new chapter in its role as an online marketplace for third-parties to sell their goods. The company is quietly pushing a service called Amazon Pages, which lets companies set up their own pages on Amazon.com as “custom destinations,” complete with http://www.amazon.com/brandname URLs and dynamic designs with large photos and social media links. Along with this, it is also offering Amazon Posts for companies to market themselves across Amazon and Facebook, and Amazon Analytics to measure how well all of the above is working.
The analytics are limited currently to how well brands’ Amazon-led efforts are performing, but there isn’t really anything stopping the company from offering the same kind of measurements to brands for their positioning across the wider internet — putting Amazon in closer quarters against the likes of Salesforce and Oracle in the process.
The bigger effort around pages, meanwhile, gives Amazon a significant leg up in its positioning brands and smaller businesses that might potentially look to Amazon as a way of running their full online operation, in place of their own standalone websites. The fact that there are URLs involved here also gives another intriguing twist to the news from many months ago about Amazon filing for dozens of generic new TLD names like “.buy”, “.group”, “.room” and “.shop”.
The initiative comes from the company’s Amazon Marketing Services division, which has also posted a PDF taking people through the process of working with the three features. That PDF guide was only created and posted yesterday.
We have reached out to Amazon to ask about these services.
In the meantime, here is what we see on the site:
The Pages are free to develop, and let brands, businesses and individuals create their own microsites on Amazon; these get customized with their own names (for example http://www.amazon.com/techcrunch). Amazon provides companies with three templates to create their storefronts.
Amazon Pages looks more dynamic than what you get at the moment: companies can include more photography, including large “hero” images (two examples illustrated above); buttons to Facebook and Twitter pages; and “merchandizing widgets” that let you select and place links to specific products of yours or others offered through Amazon.
The idea, of course, is to encourage more sales by creating a more welcoming environment: “With a personalized Amazon Page, you extend your reach to Amazon.com customers and encourage immediate sales through a familiar and trusted purchasing environment. Link to content on Amazon.com, feature products, and lifestyle imagery about your brand,” the company explains.
Amazon Posts, meanwhile, is a foray into social marketing. Creators of Amazon Pages can use Posts to update their sites with new messages, and Amazon lets users cross-post those messages to Facebook pages as well. Think of it as a kind of HootSuite-lite, with the ability to schedule updates and cross-post messages in a couple of places.
“You can enhance your words with an image or a product. And you can plan ahead, scheduling the release of a series of posts on successive days,” Amazon writes. For now, Posts looks like it is limited to Facebook and Amazon itself but given that Twitter is also included in Amazon’s Pages social widgets, you could see this also getting added to the mix.
Less clear is where sites like Pinterest and Fancy — which are more closely aligned with Amazon’s marketplace, product-focused aesthetic — might fit into the mix.
Finally, the analytics piece plays on Amazon’s position as a big data powerhouse in its own right: here the company is offering a dashboard for companies to monitor how well their Pages and Posts are performing, covering areas like reach, view and purchase lift, to help “demystify the impact of social marketing,” according to the company. Like the Pages and Posts features, the analytics is also free to use for now.