Predictions for 2018 based on Amazon Job Postings

Open job postings can indicate two things about a company – the first is that this list could be a prioritization list; as in, it could be that this is where employment funding is being funneled. It can also indicate where there are gaps in candidate interest. Some jobs are simply harder to fill. In the case of Amazon’s currently open positions in the Seattle area, I would argue that it’s both. AWS and Alexa are definitely the sexy, top recognition/revenue areas of Amazon right now from a perception perspective, and I’m not surprised that’s where most of the opening are. But I would expect that corporate and fulfillment/operations are just trying to keep the lights on.

Amazon Web Services(1458)
Amazon Alexa (453)
Global Corporate Teams (HR, PR and Legal)(323)
Amazon Devices(171)
Seller Services(134)
eCommerce Foundation(126)
Fulfillment & Operations(101)
Digital Entertainment(84)

In between, we can see a large number of roles available in Advertising and Seller Services as well. I’m going to look into a few open job postings and speculate wildly on what’s coming in 2018 for Amazon based on open job postings.

Prediction #1: Advertising on Marketplace will be a big push for Amazon in 2018

There are a few roles that are of interest for advertising, both in terms of how they are written about, and what that tells us about where Amazon is going next year.

In the “Sr. Product Manager, Advertiser Experience” role (Job ID: 600451), the poster writes: “Amazon is investing heavily in building a world class advertising business and we are responsible for defining and delivering a collection of self-service performance advertising products that drive discovery and sales… With a broad mandate to experiment and innovate, we are growing at an unprecedented rate with a seemingly endless range of new opportunities. Our business is growing fast, and is highly visible to senior leadership.”

Can’t be much clearer about their intentions than that!

I also thought that some of the focus on new customer acquisition was interesting – hopefully they pass out more freebies for new advertiser acquisition.

In a posting for an Account Representative II (Job ID: 594163), the poster wrote: “Sales of products by third-party sellers on our websites represent more than half of units sold, and the Seller Services business is growing faster than our Retail business… Members of this team are responsible for ensuring that our top third party Sellers are adopting and utilizing Sponsored Products to its fullest potential.”

What I find exciting about this posting is that there is clearly an effort to standardize advertising across the platform. Previously, the experience of sellers and vendors on the platform was very different. A single platform for advertising for brand owners would be very welcome.

And if anyone were any doubt that advertising will be just as tech heavy as any other part of the Amazon selling platform, this posting for an Applied Scientist (Job ID: 560896) would dispel that in a heartbeat. “Amazon is investing heavily in building a world class advertising business and we are responsible for defining and delivering a collection of advertising products that drive discovery and sales. Our products are strategically important to our Retail and Marketplace businesses driving long term growth. We deliver billions of ad impressions and millions of clicks daily and are breaking fresh ground to create world-class products…You’ll apply statistical models or algorithms to both customer & advertiser behavior data to generate insights that drive our product.”

Ultimately, Amazon’s goal with advertising is not to grow advertising, although that seems to be a nice side effect. The ultimate goal of advertising on Amazon is to help customers find exactly the right product for their needs, the first time, all on Amazon. Where do I see this going? I see Amazon continuing to build out their Storefront feature to allow for longer posts, and greater focus on needs-based marketing (“my back has been hurting for week” as a search phrase rather than “heating pad” or “back muscle roller”) rather than product marketing.

Amazon’s entire ecosystem is built around product based advertising rather than needs based advertising, and to truly grow to compete with Google in the solutions business, Amazon needs to provide more opportunities for brand owners to show customers how their product meets the customer’s needs, rather than having the customer come to Amazon in search of a particular product.

Prediction #2: Amazon will double down on protecting Brands on the Amazon marketplace

Brand Registry 2.0 was one of my favorite launches in 2017. Not only did BR 2.0 rely on an actual trademark for registration, so the private label trick of making up a name, printing it on a sticker and screenprinting it onto the product no longer works, but it made it way easier to report infringers. Given our experiences with a few particularly nasty hijackers, this was great!

Amazon continues then to innovate on behalf of brand owners for protect their intellectual property rights. In the job posting for Sr. Engagement Manager, Brand Registry & Protection (Job ID: 500700), the poster writes, “Amazon is inventing on behalf of rights owners and is focused on building the largest and most extensive brand protection program in the world. As intellectual property owners have different needs compared to sellers, we are inventing ways to detect product authenticity, product integrity, as well as copyright, trademark, and other product quality issues.”

The job functions I thought were most interesting were: “Create and execute system onboarding plans” and “Provide onboarding support for the most complex engagements.” This is because one of the struggles brands have had is in how to use BR 2.0 – and many brands have ended up just paying third parties to do it for them, even though every client I’ve set up with Brand Registry takes about 5 minutes, once the required information is gathered. To be fair, though, when it goes wrong, it can be very frustrating for the brand owner.

Another new job role in the growing Brand Registry team (which includes multiple specialists, product managers, and a programming support team) is Brand Relationship Manager, Reported Abuse (Job ID: 593118). The job posting says, “Amazon has built a reputation for excellence with recent examples of being named the #1 most trusted company for customers. To deliver on this reputation for trust the Marketplace Abuse team is tasked with identifying and preventing abuse for our customers and brand owners worldwide. We are looking for people who are passionate about helping us ensure that customers may make great purchase decisions and that brand owners and sellers using Amazon are successful listing and selling their products.”

Given the amount of abuse we’ve seen – both of sellers abusing other sellers’ listings, or of sellers abusing customer trust by selling products they’ve marketed as being one thing, but are in actuality unable to meet their marketing claims – a focus on safety and excellent quality on the Amazon marketplace sounds great to hear.

The Marketplace is so large, and customers aren’t used to having to think about compliance or safety or intellectual property – historically, these have curated by buyers at retail chains. On Amazon, unsafe products, products that infringe on intellectual property, products that are marketed as good quality but are junk can thrive in a way that they never could before; the dark side to all of the excitement and the opportunity for those who are trying to do the right thing while launching their new businesses. Amazon’s focus on fixing this issue can only be a good thing for customers.

Prediction #3: Amazon is splitting up new job postings for HQ2 based on division

I have zero proof for this! But unusually, there are a lot of job postings I would have expected to see that aren’t there on the job boards right now. It’s also lower than I can recall seeing it in awhile. It’s still a huge list of open positions for the Greater Seattle area, but it’s less than before.

One of the main benefits of everyone being in one place is that you can meet them in person. As a company that is online and distributed ourselves, you might think we’d say that’s preferable – but I’ve found it’s actually not. We do it this way because we must, not because I think it’s actually the best way to work. The best way to work is to be at an office together and have face to face meetings regularly. HUman are social animals, and a lack of face to face interaction is problematic.

Therefore, I would expect Amazon to separate out HQ2 based on division, not having distributed teams or teams in multiple areas with different focuses. Honestly, I find it problematic to have a distributed team in general – having managed or been part of distributed teams my whole career at Amazon, it was always a struggle. The more broken up teams and departments are, the harder it is for them to function effectively.

So, those are my predictions for 2018! We’ll see how things turn out in the coming year. What do you hope/are afraid Amazon will do in 2018?

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About the Author
Rachel Johnson Greer is a global business strategist who specializes in helping entrepreneurs increase their internet product sales, curate their brand image online and avoid catastrophic legal threats. After getting her MBA in international business at Seattle University, she spent nearly a decade at Amazon working in product development. Since then, Rachel has founded companies that reached both multi-six figure and multi-seven figure growth in under three years.

As a business coach, she supports clients in everything from international product expansion to 4x-ing their sales through online retailers. Rachel is frequently sought out by the media and has appeared on the Today Show, CNBC, Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. When she’s not working with clients, she’s scaring friends at parties with stories about the most problematic online products she’s found in their homes. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

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