Amazon advertisers want more video ads if they’re to spend more

Amazon’s lack of video ads is a problem for some advertisers.

Amazon’s ad business continued its rapid rise in its latest quarter, topping $2.2 billion. But as effective as Amazon’s search and display ads are, they aren’t going to be enough to turn the duopoly into a triopoly. There aren’t enough reasons to put Amazon above Google and Facebook on media plans, according to advertisers and agencies interviewed for this article. One of those reasons is video, which more advertisers are starting to demand.

“Video is a key part of the content mix for Pernod Ricard’s brands, so when we find the right format on Amazon, then it’s definitely something we’ll consider,” said the company’s global digital acceleration director, Pierre-Yves Calloc’h. “The first focus for us [on Amazon] is having the right e-commerce proposition, then we’re looking at advertising, which is mainly search.

Amazon does have a video business; it’s just not that big at the moment. Video ads are sold on Twitch, the Fire TV platform, along with Prime Video’s live sports. But not all of that video inventory is available for advertisers to buy on their own through its self-serve platform that sits within the Amazon Advertising Platform.

Lego tested video ads in search results on the Amazon app in the U.S. last year. The results were promising enough that it would like to buy more.

“The test reiterated the importance video and rich media can have when it’s part of the buying journey, especially when 70 percent of all purchase journeys start on Amazon,”said head of emerging platforms and partnerships James Poulter. “Surfacing your content in the same place that people are having those journeys has the potential to widen the funnel.”

New ad formats are on the way, said Amazon’s CFO Brian Olsavsky on its earnings call earlier this month.

“A lot of marketers still view Amazon as a tool for direct response to drive performance, which sidelines video in many cases,” said media agency Essence activation director Joseph Myers. “Even when we have used Amazon’s data to run more brand-awareness campaigns, there are still many limitations on the video side that have meant it hasn’t been quite right. [Video advertising] is limited in terms of inventory across Amazon’s properties and a lot of the tools we’d use for optimization and reporting [for those ads] are still quite nascent.”

Amazon declined to comment.

As fast as Amazon’s ad business is growing, global advertisers treat it as an experimental platform rather than a scale one, particularly major consumer goods and retail brands that are challenged by Amazon’s private label businesses. Amazon knows this and has quietly been opening up more video opportunities for marketers — everything from video on and Amazon’s app, to Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football and Fire TV inventory.

Heineken is reticent to go all-in on Amazon’s ad business but is attracted by what advertising on Amazon’s Prime Video could deliver. The brewer’s U.K. arm is set to run its first video campaigns on the site in 2019, said brand director Nic Casby.

“Amazon are on the plan for next year,” said Casby. “We’re looking to do some content and feature around some of the exclusive titles on Amazon. We might be working with the platform on individual shows and programming that’s relevant [to our brand] and then creating content to match.”

More video ads is a question of when not if for Amazon. The real issue is whether it can create a proposition that’s better than Google or Facebook. Amazon is starting to get a clearer view of how video might fit within the shopping experiencing, having studied how the format impacts purchases when placed on a brand’s store.

“Almost every client that we have that has video collateral, especially those in lifestyle and luxury, want more video advertising from Amazon,” said Jordan Taylor, head of marketing at e-commerce management firm Kwontified. “The larger tests [for video ads] have been on the Amazon mobile app, but we’re also seeing Amazon explore video via storefronts. I’m sure Amazon’s looking at how brands are utilizing video on their stores on the site to see which ones are selling more and whose selling less. Based on those learnings, they’ll decide whether to make video advertising more widely available. Everything Amazon does is purposeful.”

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