Home CTV Amazon’s First Upfront Is All About Advertising And Sports

Amazon’s First Upfront Is All About Advertising And Sports

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Unlike NBCUniversal, Amazon kicked off its first-ever upfront event with advertising right out of the gate. (OK, after an opening performance from Alicia Keys.)

“Today is all about how we’re bringing together Prime Video’s reach with ad tech and billions of Amazon consumer signals,” Paul Kotas, SVP of Amazon Ads, told advertisers during the upfront event on Tuesday. This is Amazon’s goal for all brands, Kotas said – not just advertisers currently selling products on its ecommerce site.

It makes sense that advertising would set the stage for Amazon’s first upfront. The ecommerce giant has held NewFronts events in the past, but after defaulting its Prime Video service to an ad-supported model in January, Amazon is ready to go toe-to-toe with the TV broadcasters and studios on their turf.

To back up its pitch to advertisers, Amazon touted its scale, data and content, particularly its sports programming.

Prime delivery on ads

Prime Video already has scale because of its origins as an add-on feature for customers subscribed to Amazon’s Prime delivery service.

Fast-forward to now, and it’s a popular streaming platform with an ad-supported reach of 200 million worldwide, including 115 million subscribers in the US.

Scale isn’t everything, though. Prime Video has to prove campaigns are performing the way advertisers expect, said Sarah Iooss, Amazon’s head of US agency and Twitch sales.

Attributing ads to business outcomes is a historic challenge for any linear TV or streaming platform, due to the lack of direct signal coming from TV screens. People just don’t click around on their TVs the way they do on cellphones and laptops.

Though the “critical difference” between Amazon and its legacy TV studio counterparts is, of course, that Amazon’s core business is ecommerce, said Tanner Elton, VP of US ad sales.

Which means it has a heap of first-party shopper data it can use to target ads to viewers based on their purchase patterns. Advertisers can use Amazon Marketing Cloud to match first-party data with Amazon’s shopper signals, Elton said.

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And last week, ahead of its upfront, Amazon unveiled three new shoppable ad formats for Prime Video that will be available later this year.

The opportunity for advertisers extends beyond just Prime Video, too. Since Prime Video launched ads at the beginning of the year, advertisers that add Fire TV to their streaming campaigns get twice as much incremental reach, Charlotte Maines, director of Fire TV business and devices advertising, told AdExchanger after the event.

Fire TV is a content distributor, so it has other content beyond Prime Video – including sports.

Be a good sport

And speaking of sports, while Amazon showcased plenty of content during its upfront, sports arguably got the most stage time.

Amazon touted its upcoming programming for the NFL (the favorite child), including Thursday Night Football games and exclusive Wild Card playoffs, plus the WNBA and national women’s soccer league games.

Amazon also has a new addition coming to its sports lineup on Prime Video: NASCAR.

NASCAR signed a seven-year deal that adds Prime Video (and Warner Bros. Discovery’s TNT) as rightsholders. Prime Video will air its first NASCAR race during Memorial Day weekend.

Part of the reason for diversifying its sports programming slate is to reach more casual sports viewers in addition to passionate fans, said Jay Marine, VP and global head of sports at Prime Video.

Just like with the rest of its content, Amazon also expects to help advertisers tie consumer and shopper data to ad exposures within sports in ways that linear broadcasters can’t, Marine said.

The competition is on.

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