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Guiding Brand Budget for Maximum Impact

Search, Social, and the Evolution of Shopper Marketing Budgets

The Ampd Team

Jun 04, 2024

It’s time to challenge some assumptions about how brand budgets can best be utilized in funnel creation, brand awareness, performance, and net impact on online and offline sales.

The modern shopping journey has broken down the borders of traditional ecommerce. According to a report from Attest

Only 40% of Americans begin their product search on a marketplace. Concurrently, 40% of Americans begin their product search on search engines or social media.

Present-day consumers are turning to alternative media channels to increase their awareness and consideration of the journey stages. Think of platforms like TikTok, paired with the rise of fast commerce, changing patterns in media consumption, and the diffusion of online marketplaces. 

Purchase Behavior 

Consumers prefer to buy from the likes of Amazon, Walmart, and Target over sites. This is primarily due to free and fast shipping, brand trust, a wide range of products, reliable returns policies, and payment security. These retailers facilitate shopping trips, not just product purchases, which is partly why is less impactful. Consumers assemble entire baskets when shopping online, not just buying a product or two from one brand.

Now more than ever, it has become a priority in an effective shopper marketing strategy to find customers where they are browsing and expedite their journey to retailers to purchase.

Customer Journey

The shopper journey is no longer linear. Consumers bounce between social, search, and marketplace as if they are one and the same. Users often become aware of a product on social media and then jump over to a retailer to see if they can carry it for a quick and easy purchase.

This same journey and narrative apply strongly to Google's search engine. Currently, and likely even more in the future, Google's use of generative AI will significantly shape consumer awareness and consideration by turning questions into product recommendations.

After the Click: Three Most Popular Traffic Destinations

Let’s  explore the three most popular traffic destinations where shopper marketers send traffic with brand budgets and explore the implications of each relative to the consumer preference we’ve explained above.

1. Transactional DTC

This was the original point of search and social strategy: find consumers on Google, Youtube, Facebook, or Instagram and direct them to your dedicated website store to purchase.

While an excellent source of first-party data collection and branding, consumers have spoken with their actions that this is not their preferred medium of commerce anymore. 

In fact, Ampd ran a controlled test with a leading global beauty brand on sending traffic to vs. their Amazon product pages. The difference in conversion rate was staggering: 2% on the brand site increased up to 12%  on with the same inputs by switching the destination to match the consumers' preferences. That’s a 5x increase in conversion rate.

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2. Informational DTC (Where to Buy)

Informational DTC describes sites that are more informational, focusing little on converting shoppers to buyers. These sites use Where to Buy software to redirect traffic to marketplaces where they can purchase the product in question. As you can imagine, this roundabout journey, while exceptional with consumer optionality, does not focus on creating buying customers. 

In fact, most WTB software limits the visibility of Add to Cart actions, with most traffic dissipating before even reaching the marketplace. Not to mention that you lose out on any keyword intent in the process.


Over the past few years, forward-thinking marketers have decided to send these ads directly to retailers through search and social media. This shopping journey aligns with consumer preference, leading to increased effectiveness of ad dollars. 

Historically, the shortcoming has been a lack of attribution and automation. Off-site spending directed into retailers neatly matches consumer preference, but it is notoriously difficult to attribute sales at scale, let alone optimize and automate the dollars to become performant. 

In short, this third search and social strategy directed at retailers is more congruent with today’s consumer. Still, there has been a missing element in technology to make this truly feasible.

Brand Budgets

When we look at off-site shopper marketing spending, it’s typically constrained to the top of the funnel and sometimes synonymous with brand marketing efforts because it’s hard to follow a click across channels. Thus, you get stuck at the top of the funnel.

Fundamentally, brand marketing has had an attribution problem because the ad data and the conversion data live in two separate worlds, buying journeys can span days if not weeks, and the touchpoints in between serve various purposes that are difficult to measure.

Unveiling the Funnel

What if you can combine spending and conversion data into a single platform to peer further down the funnel no matter where your ads run? Finally, brand marketing can become synonymous with shopper marketing, opening up many possibilities within those budgets. 



You can achieve that same brand reach with the additional value of measuring that spending for performance. Once you have the performance data, you can use that directionally to decide where to optimize budgets and double down on the most effectively performing campaigns. 

When we think about brand dollars, we can measure the impact that spending is having on actual sales, on new-to-brand customers and on conversions for individual products. All of this can be tied back to the keyword level on Google, the audience segment on social media, or the targeting campaign on YouTube.

This allows us to start to think about brand budgets in terms of incrementality, market share, and profitable growth. The good news is that it doesn’t mean we need to turn off our brand-building activities or, even worse, pile on a whole new strategy for our marketers. You can drive your brand results while adding visibility into deeper funnel metrics to prove success in real-time, optimize if something isn’t heading in the right direction, and apply additional dollars to what’s working well. 

Importance of Effective Brand Spend

When it comes to brand building, the beauty of sending search and social traffic directly to retailers is the exclusive experience your brand recognizes. By directing traffic into your storefront or PDPs, you can avoid the overpopulated feel of retailer results pages that onsite ads are plagued by. 

In addition to brand building, there is audience building. When traffic is sent from channels to marketplaces, one of the most important metrics is Cost per Detail Page View (CPDPV). In customer journeys that use Where-to-Buy software, a small percentage of the traffic actually makes it to the retailer, but sending directly to the retailer creates a 1:1 relation in clicks and detail page views by sending traffic with one click to the storefront or products. 

It’s worth noting that search and social are notorious for high New-to-Brand rates relative to onsite media from retailers. While initial ROAS metrics can sometimes lag, expanding market share creates higher lifetime value. When advertisers can convert a larger percentage of an audience into buying customers, market share expands. This directly correlates with the increased conversion rates enjoyed by ads that direct into retailers, especially when optimized via Ampd’s closed-loop attribution to pinpoint winning keywords and creative approach.

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