Magazine article ADWEEK

In Alibaba, Amazon Sees What It's Missing

Magazine article ADWEEK

In Alibaba, Amazon Sees What It's Missing

Article excerpt

Amazon has a lot to learn from its Chinese doppelganger, Alibaba Group, and its marketing machine, according to advertising industry experts and executives.

Alibaba, planning its Wall Street debut possibly this summer, shows how an e-commerce giant also can run a sophisticated advertising network, making billions in addition to online sales. Marketers in the United States wish Amazon were as open to advertising. "Amazon has not gotten its head around advertising as a revenue model," said an agency executive who is privy to the e-commerce company's marketing products.

Alibaba is a multilayered organization, similar to Amazon, selling all categories of products and hosting online merchants. It owns a number of digital properties, including Taobao Marketplace, Tmall and Alibaba.com. The ecosystem comprises wholesalers, retailers and consumers, transacting a half-trillion dollars a year.

But, the bulk of its total revenue actually comes from the marketing platform that helps brands target Chinese consumers on mobile, desktop and across the online landscape, including outside of Alibaba on properties such as the messaging app WeChat.

Digital marketing experts see Alibaba as a model for Amazon, but CEO Jeff Bezos has not aggressively pursued advertising dollars, despite the company's potentially lucrative consumer reach.

"Alibaba could potentially help change that dynamic," said Todd Szahun, vp, data strategy and partnerships at WPP's Data Alliance. …

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