How Amazon Is Making Ad Tech the MVP of Thursday Night Football

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Thursday Night Football has a new star in Amazon’s ad tech.

Ahead of the company kicking off its second season of exclusive Thursday Night Football coverage on Prime Video tonight, with a matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings, Amy McDevitt, head of sports brand partnerships for Amazon Ads, spoke with Adweek, previewing the sports marketing enhancements and capabilities for 2023.

According to McDevitt, having year one under the company’s belt was pivotal as Prime Video established its Thursday Night Football broadcasts as a “world-class product.” For its second season, the exec said Amazon is “returning to its ad-tech roots” to help “brands reach consumers in really unique and interesting ways.”

Among the changes, this year’s broadcasts include several new presenting sponsors, with segments such as TNF Tonight presented by Verizon for pregame; TNF Kickoff presented by Subway; the State Farm Halftime Show; the JCPenney Postgame Show; and the TNF Nightcap presented by Allstate.

“It’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears when you enter into a creative partnership because these brands are entrusting you with their messaging and with their brand essence,” McDevitt said. “We really try to embed ourselves with the brands and partner with them incredibly closely to make sure that we’re delivering upon their objectives.”

In addition to Thursday Night Football bringing back its remarketing capabilities, which McDevitt said drove success for partner brands wanting to have a continued conversation with viewers, the exec revealed Amazon will utilize audience-based creative for 2023. The offering enables TV advertisers to tailor ad creative for different audiences within the same ad slot, with the goal of making ads more relevant to viewers.

“We could take an auto—perhaps they have a certain vehicle that they want to promote to people in a certain geographic location, to families or exclusively women. That automotive advertiser can take that single 30-second ad slot and deliver multiple pieces of creative so they’re tailoring the message to the consumer,” McDevitt said. “It really is a first for the NFL.”

Relevance is the name of the game

And speaking of tailoring messages, the company is implementing more custom and same-day creative, allowing brands to stay relevant within the programming, with talent even recording timely spots for advertisers onsite at the games to air during the broadcasts.

“A very important ingredient in the NFL is contextually relevant creative and being able to harness the passion that football fans have for the sport,” McDevitt said. “So we are partnering with a lot of brands to build custom 15-second, 30-second and even long-form creative that will help them connect in a deeper way with our Thursday Night Football viewers this season.”

To boost its shoppable experiences, the company is rolling out interactive video ads, bringing buttons to the screen that allow consumers to interact with products or offers, with all interactions going to a second-screen experience to keep viewers in the game.

The new offering could even provide opportunities beyond Thursday Night Football, with interactive experiences likely hitting Amazon’s first Black Friday NFL game later this year.

“It’s a big cultural moment. We want to make sure that we’re delivering the best possible football product but also honoring what Black Friday is in terms of the holiday shopping, getting into the holiday spirit and time with family,” McDevitt said. “A lot of brands will seek to build unique creative with us for that day and also connect content to commerce.”

Fans can see the new ad tech, and even AI-powered viewer enhancements, on Amazon’s second season of Thursday Night Football, which breaks the huddle on Prime Video at 7 p.m. tonight.

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