Amazon renames, repositions ad offering

Wavemaker's Scott Stewart says the rise of Amazon as an ad platform could prompt growth in digital spending on e-commerce platforms.

Amazon has undergone a recent shift it says is in the name of “simplifying” its advertising business.

It’s done away with the names Amazon Media Group, Amazon Marketing Services and Amazon Advertising Platform. The terms will be phased out over the next several months in favour of the single moniker of Amazon Advertising (while the Amazon Advertising Platform specifically will be known as Amazon DSP). It’s also renamed Headline Search Ads to Sponsored Brands.

Scott Stewart, managing director and head of strategy at Wavemaker, told MiC that although these are just name changes, they’re important changes as Amazon grows its ad business.

“I think it’s quite cool that they’re trying to uncomplicate things,” he said. “From an agency perspective, there’s a huge demand from advertisers for platforms to take complicated things and make them simple. It helps our customers and it helps from a strategy perspective.”

He said in particular the removal of the “media group” is a welcome change for advertisers. “It’s not a media group. It’s a platform. Call it what it is.”

All eyes have been on Amazon for the better half of 2018, ever since it was reported that the company pulled in $2.8 billion in ad revenue last year. The ad business has only been growing this year, bringing in $2.2 billion for its most recent quarter. Its rapid rise has prompted headline after headline about Amazon serving as a potential disruptor to the “digital duopoly” of Facebook and Google, which have been the predominant platforms for digital ad spend for most of the last decade.

Those in the industry only see interest in Amazon going up in the future. According to a June survey by Marin Software, 56.5% of global marketers surveyed said they consider it to be a growth opportunity across categories.

Stewart said with Amazon’s rising clout among advertisers, it’s natural that it’s going to focus more on its client-facing ad offering.

“I think in these kinds of situations, it takes awhile for the actual advertising offering to catch up.”

For Wavemaker, Stewart said that although its client work in e-commerce is still relatively low, Amazon’s updates give the agency a new opportunity to test the space. “We can only evolve and change at the rate of technology,” he said. “As we start recognizing the digital sales experience, rather than just recognizing bricks and mortar, we’ll see much more opportunity in the digital space. There’s a lot more attribution, and clearer lines drawn. That’s what advertisers want – to understand the consumer journey.”