By The Drum, Editorial

June 6, 2024 | 6 min read

Winning B2B Gold in The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas is Amazon Ads X Code and Theory. Here is the award-winning case study.


Over the last three years, Amazon Ads has mapped an incredible trajectory — robust year-over-year growth, elevation to the brand’s 2nd-most profitable vertical outside e-commerce, and the newfound strength to take on the long-established competitors in the category. But the biggest challenge still lay ahead, in the form of an audience our brand has never courted before: small business owners. We had to convince this hardworking cohort of entrepreneurs that our corporate competitor could actually play the role of colossal collaborator. As with everything else we do, the answer came back to customers. Our company prides itself on a relentlessly customer-centric mindset; in every metric that matters, our brand reputation backs that fact up. Now, we had to prove that we could serve customers in a whole new context — serving them to small business owners who needed the right ones, right away.

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Breaking through to the small business audience wouldn’t be easy. For one, it’s a massive category: representing 30 million owners, or over 99% of all businesses in the country. Not only that, the average small business owner works nearly twice as much as the rest of us, and has no time to spare on marketing that won’t move the needle. We’d need a powerful story that would land fast and hit hard. That could convince, convert, and inspire them to collaborate with us. And the easiest way to do that was to speak their language.

Our answer was ‘Ads that work as hard as you do’ – a campaign platform that promised small business owners we saw them, we heard them, and we had the exact customers for them. The line spoke to both efficacy and partnership, honoring their hard work and promising to match it every step of the way. We paired this idea with a visual metaphor that could guide the whole campaign. From film to static display to social, we showed in no uncertain terms what hardworking ads could do: bring new customers closer to your business than ever before. In the end, our campaign did more than find common ground between the world’s shopping behemoth, and its many millions of mom & pop shops. It started a partnership built to last.


Ads That Work As Hard As You Do launched as a global, integrated campaign with a powerful, customer-centric visual metaphor as its foundation. We amplified that story across key channels to reach and resonate with our target audience:

  • Social media with emphasis on LinkedIn, Reddit, Meta, and Instagram — with consideration to the unique vernacular and audience of each social platform.
  • Digital media (banners, mobile, animated, takeovers) that targeted the publications and addressed the audience with which we are most engaged.
  • A series of originally shot and produced videos (online) highlighting two of our most important consumer categories — pet and apparel.
  • Audio ads that delivered hard-hitting benefit messaging to the podcasts and playlists small business owners frequently engage with.


Our foray into the world of small business advertising helped us smash expectations for our Ads unit, with an annual revenue of $49.9 billion dollars. This was an increase of 24% relative to the previous year, helping Amazon Ads crack a mighty new marker of success; in total, our brand represented over 10% of global digital ad spend worldwide. Amazon Ads’ Brand Manager Mallory Foster said, “Given that this is the first large-scale campaign Amazon Ads ran against a brand new audience, we are excited that so far this campaign has exceeded our expectations in terms of site visitations, video engagement, and brand.” The numbers speak for themselves.

  • Amazon Ads saw increased unaided brand awareness among enterprise media agencies and marketers by +66% across six regions running the campaign.
  • It also earned significant press coverage as the top ad of the week by Ad Age and The Drum.
  • The campaign drove 700,000 website visits in less than three months, 4.08m global impressions and +108% leap in total clicks.
  • Our impact was both broad and targeted. Reaching across channels, we drove our greatest clickthrough rate on the social network small business owners frequented most: LinkedIn. And the campaign saw success worldwide, with sweeping improvement in our site visits benchmark; we saw markets from the UK to Germany boast rates +254% and +190% over benchmark, respectively.

Amazon’s brand reputation was first built on e-commerce. And it's that background we would have to overcome when speaking to small business owners. The truth is, entrepreneurs viewed the scale and size of our online storefront as both a benefit and a threat. This meant we had to show a new side of our brand: small business ally. We did so by foregrounding business owners in every creative asset we developed, positioning our ads as the fuel for their passion. That intent was spelled out right in the name of our campaign: Ads that work as hard as you do. By honoring their hard work, and promising to match it, we made it clear we were firmly on their team.

That approach paid off as our growth hit overdrive, with a 26% increase in Q3, when the campaign launched, and ad revenues totaling more than $12 billion.

Ads That Work As Hard As You Do was built on a simple philosophy: B2B doesn’t need to be burdened with complex explanations and dense jargon. People and experiences are the focus, and that’s how we’ve connected with so many different audiences, from high-powered executives and media buyers to the couple who run the shop on the corner. We all know a small business owner. These businesses form the backbone of our communities. Our campaign created a near-instant connection with them by speaking a shared language. With much more to come under this platform, our first small business campaign will go down as the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Ready to get your work recognized on a global stage? Enter The Drum Awards today. Need more inspiration, read our Award Winning Case Studies.

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