Amazon continues to make serious inroads into the advertising business. Its latest move: a new office in Manhattan that it says will bring 2,000 jobs, mostly in advertising, to the city — and closer to Madison Avenue. Multiple media agency executives in New York said they’ve been hearing more from Amazon reps who are trying to sell them and their clients on Amazon advertising. Another executive said he’s hearing from Amazon more, and Amazon has hired programmatic specialists from his agency in New York.
Amazon’s sales team for advertising is growing fast: It’s different from other platforms in that its team works cross-functionally across advertising and retail. For larger brands, Amazon has dedicated teams. The company has had a team in New York for many years but also has big ad presences in other places including Tokyo and Paris — “anywhere there are ad agencies in place,” said Saurabh Sharma, director of programmatic at Amazon.
Amazon is increasingly trying to pitch to what the company dubs “non-endemic” advertisers — brands that don’t sell on Amazon. Sharma said that’s definitely a priority for the company, and it’s a challenge. Non-endemic advertisers would cover, for example, brands in categories like cable, wireless, airlines or restaurants. “There are opportunities to bring that value,” said Sharma.
Amazon’s ad buckets cover everything from search (the sponsored products that appear when people search for things on Amazon.com), to more traditional display in the form of banner advertising, to newer video advertising or device-based advertising on Kindle, or through its new streaming service for entertainment. There’s also what is known as “custom” advertising, which could include anything from a full homepage takeover of Amazon.com on Black Friday to using Amazon boxes themselves as ad inventory.
Sharma said more advertising offerings are coming. The company is doing more with other pieces of “inventory” such as Amazon Lockers, self-service kiosks that let customers pick up Amazon packages, as well as starting to offer TV-like advertising for its new “Thursday Night Football” streaming service on Prime Video. (The kickoff Bears-Packers matchup had 1.6 million viewers initiating the stream in late September.)
“To really go after the Google and Facebook duopoly, [Amazon needs] to think outside of just product advertising,” said one agency buyer who works with Amazon. “Retail is just one piece of online business overall.”
Geico, a non-endemic advertiser, advertises within Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football,” for example, said Sharma. Another example is Hyundai, a non-endemic brand that did a custom test-drive campaign called “Prime Now. Drive Now.”