Retailers as Ad Networks

Amazon is the latest brand to repackage its audiences for display ads

Amazon built all sorts of buzz and intrigue during Advertising Week this month by touting its third-party ad platform. But what the e-commerce giant is doing isn’t actually all that new.

Brands repackaging their own audiences for display ads “is very much an emerging space,” said Jay Habegger, co-founder and CEO of ad network OwnerIQ, a retargeting firm that is in talks to work with the majority of the top 25 retailers.

“We’ve been doing it for about a year now,” Best Buy vp of marketing, strategy and customer insight Keith Bryan said of the electronics retailer’s own audience retargeting program. With help from Razorfish, the company started by targeting its own consumers, and last year began letting brands retarget users who checked out HDTVs on Best Buy’s site then navigated elsewhere on the Web.

Similarly, Walmart also repackages its site visitors for display retargeting, according to Habegger.

“A year ago, the effective media dollars deployed against audiences of other brands was effectively zero,” he said. But given the vast potential, he said, “Five years from now it will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”