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Amazon’s TV Ad Ambitions Set New TV Bar

The biggest news in TV this week could be Hulu’s continued ad innovations, or Viacom working with T-Mobile or Comscore’s executive exodus — (though that is a massive ad tech story). Or pay TV declines (that may be slowing?). Or even Accenture buying Droga5 and how that reflects the new integrated ad economy including TV.

But if I’m a betting man on , the biggest news was the scoop from Cheddar that Amazon is launching a Roku competitor. Not just because Amazon has a massive war chest and is eating main street (and littering it’s recycling bins with too many damn boxes!).

It’s massive news because if you think about it, Amazon has what everyone is chasing– first party, opt-in data and rich data. And not just consent, or email data but purchase behaviors; from stores, online, mobile apps and viewing data from Fire sticks and devices. They can link my penchant for avocados and chocolate (problem) to the fact that Mrs Maisel is a hit in our home and that my 11 year old son reads more than me.

That matters because with privacy issues looming, having a solid, multi-touch opt-in footprint gives Amazon the ability to deliver EXTREMELY addressable ads. Like–odds are you’re out of toothpaste so we’ll introduce a new brand at this ad break- kind of ads.

That type of lower funnel, purchase behavior advertising is why we’re so bullish on companies like Downstream that don’t just help brands target ads on Amazon but help companies sync cost of production for said products against demand, and cost of advertising, in real time. Advertising out at the point of discovery is great on TV, or Google or Facebook. Brand messaging at the digital register where most purchase decisions are actually made is an entirely different dimension of the conversion cycle. And as those TV ads become clickable, who are you going to trust more to get your package to your door tomorrow? No one more than Amazon. Period.

This dynamic was summed up beautifully in an exchange between Jesse Redniss, Warner Media’s data/ innovation leader who sees the three-dimensional chess board Amazon is playing and Mike Shields who makes the good points that customers are not yet quite “audience” and that local sports will still have a bearing on what bundle people ultimately choose. (Those Jets and Knicks fans are such gluttons for punishment.)

This closed-loop TV advertising system sets a new bar for OTT advertising and TV advertising in general. There is no need for third-party data set matching and externally enriched segment modeling, is there?

There are one-to-one marketing capabilities baked in, if not from day one, then not long thereafter. How does Roku (which lost money on the announcement) compete with that, let alone the broadcasters?

This is why Project OAR in particular is so important. For networks to compete in the new world, there needs to be an addressable standard that gives networks the ability to deliver targeted ads at the household level, using the proprietary technology stacks each designed around the assets in each’s arsenal. One size will never fit all if competition is to thrive. But, having a standard for enabling are the networks’ best hope of being more dynamic in their ad offerings down to the device.

For an industry built on a one-to-many model, Amazon’s hammer drop just reminded everyone: tomorrow’s marketing for TV will be extremely addressable and those who are not machine-learned, data-enriched will likely perish.