Prime Video has officially entered the ad-funded market, and if Amazon delivers on the platform’s high potential, then we could be about to witness a significant shift in the VOD landscape.
Following in the footsteps of Netflix and Disney, Amazon is set to launch Prime Video with ads from 5th February. However, unlike competitors who have come to market with a reduced subscription fee for the inclusion of ads, Prime Video will convert all of its estimated 13 million accounts to ad-funded in one fell swoop. As a result, agencies and advertisers might have another mass-reach premium platform to further enrich AV plans. Amazon could, in theory, instantly rub shoulders with the more established broadcasters (ITV, Sky and Channel 4) offering scalable reach, as well as a wide range of targeting capabilities and premium content. This will likely, once again, push the traditional broadcasters to invest further into targeting capabilities and content production and acquisition.
Of course, this isn’t Amazon’s first foray into AVOD. Their current Freevee platform has proved to be a shrewd testing ground for Amazon. Arguably allowing Amazon to make the necessary learnings required to successfully launch Prime Video with ads, at scale, from launch.
Naturally, a move like this still comes with an element of risk. Amazon, like many of its competitors, are reluctant to share subscriber counts and deeper audience insights. This can make advertisers and agencies nervous about spending. Whilst some viewers will resent being served ads, despite paying a monthly subscription. After all, an ad-free viewing experience was the USP of SVOD. To counter this, Amazon will offer the option for consumers to pay a higher fee to remove ads entirely, much like the major broadcasters and SVOD suppliers do, though uptake is expected to be low.
Whilst advertisers undoubtedly see the appeal of investing in Prime Video ads due to promises to link ad viewership with sales on Amazon’s retail platform, many are holding off on major investments for now to see how the new offering develops and matches up with its competitors. This makes it essential for Amazon to prove that its access to large amounts of first-party and zero-party data from its retail arm (as well as properties such as Twitch and Fire TV) can be used to measure and drive ad performance on Prime Video.
Further to that, Amazon is banking on the suggestion that most people subscribe to Prime for a multitude of reasons such as free delivery, shopping benefits and live sport, the latter of which will remain separate from a Prime Video buy. So, the thinking is that many viewers will not mind being served ads, as Prime Video is not the chief motivation for subscriptions.
Ultimately Amazon’s offering will be unique due to scale at launch and greater targeting capabilities than their competitors. Should their lofty projections come to fruition, then Prime Video could very well become a prominent pillar of many client’s AV plans moving forward.