Amazon Kicks Off Effort To Tackle ‘Thursday Night Football’ Sponsors

Alan Moss Amazon Ads
Alan Moss, VP, global advertising sales at Amazon Ads (Image credit: Amazon Ads)

The move of viewers online to stream television is creating an advertising business opportunity for Amazon, which dominated as consumers ventured online to do their shopping.

As ratings for traditional television have fallen, making it harder for marketers to reach large numbers of consumers, they’re turning to connected-TV services, but the rules there are different and different players are making promises, some that can be kept, some that won’t be.

The digital retail giant’s Amazon Ads unit is ready to step into that void, making the competition the networks have seen coming from tech companies more immediate.

“Streaming TV viewership continues to grow and brands are recognizing this shift,” said Alan Moss, VP, global advertising sales at Amazon Ads.

Also: NFL Deal Gives Amazon Ad Business a Boost: Analyst 

“They’re increasingly adding streaming TV to their marketing mix and we think we’re uniquely positioned to help brands who have historically advertised on traditional TV navigate these viewership changes, build great connections with the most-relevant audiences wherever they’re watching across Amazon, including IMDb TV and Twitch,” Moss said. 

Amazon is attracting viewers by investing in content. More originals are appearing on IMDb TV, Amazon’s free ad-supported streaming service, and Amazon also closed its acquisition of MGM, giving it James Bond, Rocky, Legally Blonde and other attractive intellectual properties.

But when it comes to television, nothing moves the needle like NFL football and Amazon Prime Video will have the exclusive national telecast of Thursday Night Football starting this fall. (Amazon Prime Video is generally ad free, except for its sports programming).

Moss said Amazon Ads has already begun making its Thursday Night Football pitch to advertisers, especially official NFL sponsors, which are some of the biggest spenders on TV advertising. 

“Amazon Ads is offering brands several opportunities to get involved with TNF,” Moss said. 

“This includes using our streaming TV ads to reach NFL fans throughout games on Prime Video and Twitch, and increasing brand awareness through sponsorship opportunities during the pregame, pre-kick, halftime and post-game shows,” he said. “We're really excited to work with brands that will want to get in early and be involved in the evolution of the TNF experience.”

Amazon is also getting ready to make its presentation at the NewFronts in May.

Moss said the pitch has gotten a good response, so far. “We’re feeling good about where we are at this time.”

“It’s the ‘shiny new toy’ that everyone is excited about for sure,” one media buyer who has heard Amazon’s pitch said. The buyer said that so far most of Amazon’s pitch is for traditional NFL broadcast sponsorships, such as halftime and pregame. 

“But there is talk about ‘the possibilities,” the buyer said, adding that Amazon’s TNF packages are very expensive compared to what Fox had been charging, particularly for its post-game programming. “They have to start somewhere, but I expect the market to course-correct it.”

Amazon is reportedly paying about $1 billion a year for exclusive national rights to Thursday Night Football. Fox paid $660 million, but Prime Video and NFL Network had simulcasts of the games.

Moss said that the overall approach for Amazon Ads is that by creating great consumer experiences, it helps advertisers achieve better campaign results.

“With streaming TV we believe we can best deliver value to our customers and advertisers by enabling premium ad-supported content, engaging viewers through reimagined ad experiences, helping advertisers efficiently reach relevant audiences at scale, and providing high fidelity measurement solutions to really tie it all together,” Moss said. 

Those reimagined ad experiences include interactive messages that Amazon began running on the IMDb TV app on Fire TV. 

Amazon Interactive Ad

(Image credit: Amazon Ads)

Through the app, Amazon is able to turn a traditionally passive ad viewing experience into one that “invites customers to easily take an Amazon shopping action using their voice or the Fire TV remote,” Moss said.

Amazon Ads also offers opportunities for advertisers to present content, buy pre-roll bumpers and buy first positions in mid-roll ad pods. It also offers advertisers the opportunity to sponsor shows with limited commercial interruptions, although Moss said IMDb TV’s ad load is already about 50% less than what appears normally on broadcast TV.

Amazon's streaming TV ads and Twitch reach a monthly audience of 135 million unduplicated viewers across the U.S., Moss said.

“We strive to help brands efficiently connect with these viewers using Amazon audience segments, which are informed by shopping and streaming signals similar to how [advertisers] buy display ads with us,” he said.

“Ultimately, the measure of how your brand and message are resonating with customers is your campaign results and reaching the right audiences and growing engagement is important,” Moss added. “But doing this successfully requires really high-fidelity measurement.” 

At a time when the TV business is furiously trying to develop new methodologies for counting viewers and measuring the impact of ads, Amazon is also working to provide more actionable and reliable insights for brands.

Moss said Amazon Ads provides both first- and third-party metrics designed to “help brands understand the full-funnel impact of streaming TV ad campaigns across the consumer journey, both on and off Amazon.”

All of this is attracting traditional Amazon online retail advertisers to start advertising on streaming television across Amazon, Moss said.

“We’re also seeing some traditional TV advertisers who don’t necessarily sell on Amazon finding that our streaming offerings offer a great opportunity for them and one that really works for them,” he said.

Thursday Night Football Amazon Prime Video

(Image credit: Prime Video)

Moss notes that brands can’t buy commercials that stream on Amazon the exact same way they traditionally book ads on TV.

“While we do offer some of those options, like engaging demo audiences, what we’ve seen is increases of around 40% on average [on the advertisers' key performance indicators] when brands use our interest-based audiences in their Amazon streaming TV campaigns,” he said. “That's been really compelling.”

Amazon finds interest-based audiences using its own first party data. “Advertisers can also bring their own first-party audiences” using the Amazon Marketing Cloud, the company’s media measurement and analytics clean room. “That’s really the best way to bring in that kind of information and help to really build, measure and optimize campaigns," Moss said.

For measurement, Amazon works with recognized measurement companies including Nielsen. It has also enabled more than 20 third-party measurement vendors to help advertisers understand and compare their performance against industry benchmarks.

Moss said Amazon was looking forward to the NewFronts. It is too early to share specifics of Amazon’s NewFront pitch, Moss said, but he said: “At a high level, we believe we can deliver value by enabling premium ad-supported content and engaging viewers through new ad experiences like interactive video ads, and helping advertisers efficiently reach relevant audiences, at scale, and providing great high-fidelity measurements.” ■

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.