Amazon, Advertising's Sleeping Giant, to Awaken in 2013

E-commerce behemoth preps self-serve RTB platform

The self-serve platform would be a significant step for Amazon and its advertisers. Amazon has run ads on its owned-and-operated sites like for years, and more recently its Kindle devices, but those ads are sold more traditionally. That is, typically media buyers work with Amazon’s sales reps to discuss the audience their advertiser is looking to to target, and they then negotiate a buy—like any other online ad deal. In those cases, buyers submit insertion orders, and Amazon executes the buy across its network and reports back results.

Amazon also has the Amazon Advertising Platform, which it showed off during Advertising Week. That product has been in market “for about two years,” said the Amazon spokesperson. But sources said that until Amazon began building its own bidding technology last year, the company had partnered with ad tech firms including Triggit to place ads. That’s no longer the case. “Amazon Advertising Platform is a fully-managed service, run through our own, proprietary technology. We don’t currently work with DSPs,” the spokesperson said.

According to sources and confirmed by Amazon’s spokesperson, that platform’s media-buying process works much in the same way as advertising on Amazon's properties: lots of hand-holding and data-safeguarding, but in this case the ads run on non-Amazon sites.

“Amazon Advertising Platform leverages the same, pre-defined audience segments we offer for campaigns running on to show users more relevant ads—in much the same way Amazon has been recommending products to its retail customers for many years. These segments have a minimum size, and are based on anonymous, aggregate data,” said the Amazon spokesperson. Sources said Amazon currently offers two types of targeting options. Lifestyle targeting crunches Amazon’s data into product-related interest pools, such as those who view consumer electronics products; in-market target functions like traditional display retargeting programs.

For example, Amazon might see a user check out Blu-ray players on its site, drop a cookie on that user’s browser and then bid to run an ad for a Sony Blu-ray player when that cookie pops up on a site Amazon has access to through one of its inventory sources, such as PubMatic. The Amazon spokesperson said the platform’s inventory “comes from multiple sources—a mix of Amazon owned-and-operated properties (Amazon, IMDb, DPReview, etc.), ad exchanges and direct publisher relationships.” According to data from Evidon’s tag-tracking tool Ghostery, which measures the top domains delivering the AdChoices icon (a good indicator that RTB ads are being delivered), ranked 23rd globally during the week ending Dec. 10.

Amazon has also been using the platform internally to promote products it sells with banners on sites it doesn’t own that direct back to Amazon, sources said. In fact, last year Amazon used Turn’s platform to run its ads but has shifted to its own platform this year, said insiders.

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