When it comes to digital platform advertising, the Google Adwords steam train has continued to lurch forward, and Facebook has iterated its way to an effective advertising platform, but Amazon has been curiously understated.
Yes, they've offered onsite sponsored opportunities for a while and have recently been more active in offering managed service buys through their network of platforms, but they've yet to provide an efficient, buyer-friendly method of placing ads at scale in the vein of an Adwords platform or Facebook Power Editor.
It finally looks like Amazon has decided to lean into the advertising market with verve. The question is: why? Why has Amazon neglected such a lucrative digital advertising market for so long?
The answer lies in Amazon's infrastructure.
While Google's been off taking moonshots (many of which have failed spectactularly), and Facebook has stumbled its way into high ad spending at the expense of content and user growth (prompting its recent algorithm adjustment), Amazon's been focusing on building an incredible (if not mind-blowing) array of synapses which combine to create a complex advertising infrastructure. Alexa, Whole Foods/Fresh, Prime Video, Kindle, Amazon Music - is there a part of human consumption Amazon doesn't currently touch? (That's a rhetorical question...for now).
Instead of focused on advertising revenue too early, Amazon has first deftly developed a massive framework upon which an advertising platform can sit. Once advertisers have access to these ad formats and audience data through this framework, the possibilities will be endless. Imagine, as an advertiser, logging into an interface to a campaign targeting users based on voice search data and buying patterns, using formats across video, product search, voice results, in-app and even in-store - all through one centralized interface.
One might argue that Google is already there - which is certainly what they'd like you to think - if you think about it Google's advertising offerings boil down to search (including mobile), display network, Gmail and Youtube, with a handful of ad formats in the interest of unversal access and user experience.
Ultimately, Amazon, Google and Facebook all share the same end goal. They want their brands to be the go-to source for nearly all important consumption, whether that includes products via shopping, or media (video, audio, news); and they are all racing to create as many experiential and data gathering ways possible to make that happpen (see: Alexa/Home, Prime Video/Watch/Red). The difference is how they've approached it. While Google and Facebook rushed to plug their ad platforms into whatever hardware was available, Amazon has been slowly building the success of those systems first. That's the hard part. The easy part will be layering the advertising platform on top and saying "Go".
Amazon's value proposition will soon be Adwords on steroids, with increasing reach, more advaced data, and a plethora of delivery mechanisms that even Google and Facebook can't match. Advertisers should prepare now to add Amazon to their digital media buys, because as soon as the platform is accessible, it will be a significant part of any successful strategy.