Amazon Launches a Review of Its $1 Billion Global Media Buying Business

Initiative and MEC are incumbents

It's a prize account for the biggest holding companies. Getty Images
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The company whose founder briefly surpassed Bill Gates to become the world’s richest man this week has placed its global media planning and buying duties in review.

According to several parties with knowledge of the business, Jeff Bezos’ Amazon recently issued an RFP seeking a media agency to handle promotional campaigns in North America and other markets around the world.

IPG Mediabrands’ Initiative won global media AOR status on the Amazon account in a 2013 review, beating out WPP’s Mindshare and other unnamed competitors. That pitch, however, did not concern U.S. digital buying duties, which remained with the latter holding company’s MEC network.

Earlier this year, MEC expanded its remit by winning a competitive media review in China and proceeded to manage a May Kindle relaunch campaign with creative by Leo Burnett Shanghai.

Kantar Media reported in 2013 that Amazon spent $300 million on domestic measured media, and other estimates placed its annual marketing budget around the world at approximately $500 million. That number has since ballooned to $951 million per year in the U.S. alone, and Paris-based advisory group COMvergence now estimates that Amazon spends well over $1 billion globally.

An IPG Mediabrands spokesperson deferred to the client for comment, and MEC has not returned a related email. Adweek also reached out to several Amazon representatives, none of whom have responded to requests for comment on the review.

It is not clear which agencies are participating in the pitch, though sources claim most of the major holding companies will be represented with the exception of Omnicom, which has a conflict with Amazon competitor Google.

WPP CEO Martin Sorrell has made it very clear that he sees Amazon as a crucial part of his future business. The holding group recently acquired Amazon-only agency Marketplace Ignition and combined the services of its Mindshare and Possible networks to create an offering specifically related to Amazon Prime.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.