Platform Watch: Amazon’s Latest Moves to Forge a Triopoly

March 2019 • Kait Boulos

Media platform conversations for the past decade have been dominated by two names: Google and Facebook, that infamous Duopoly. But recently around the same time, we’ve also started to hear a new name being whispered in these conversations: Amazon. Could the lurking giant really up its advertising game to become the third can’t-miss advertising play in the U.S. market? And if so, what does that mean for advertisers within today’s platform-centric world?

The past week’s headlines would suggest that, yes, Amazon is driving toward a Triopoly it can. And possibly faster than anyone expected. From an advertiser’s point of view, that’s not a bad thing. New points of entry to Amazon’s lucrative, well-known audience are welcome additions to the advertiser’s arsenal—particularly as it helps to disperse the overwhelming amount of audience control that resides with Google and Facebook alone. That said, it does require today’s marketers to expand their platform expertise beyond the now well-trod Google and Facebook interfaces.

On one hand, eMarketer just issued (another) upwards revision on Amazon ad revenue estimates for both past and future years. According to the research firm, Amazon ad revenue is expected to grow to $15 billion in 2020—nearly 10 percent of the U.S. digital ad market.

At the same time, Amazon is making interesting moves in the ad product realm as well. Just last week, the company unveiled Amazon Moments, a new venture that enables brands to reward customers when they reach certain milestones on their owned apps or sites. It’s an interesting spin on rewarded advertising that lets companies incentivize the actions that matter most to them (e.g., renewals, first purchases, etc.) by giving customers something they truly value (i.e., a discount or free item that shows up on their front steps in that well-known Amazon packaging).

Finally, it’s worth noting that Amazon’s moves into the Duopoly’s territory extend beyond traditional digital advertising. The company is also investing — and at last making progress — in the gaming world, with the recent unveiling of its New World multiplayer sandbox online game. Suffice it to say, Amazon has a lot of eggs, and they’re going in a lot of baskets.

At the same time, user attention is migrating away from Facebook, and Google is undergoing yet another brand safety crisis on YouTube. Increasingly, it would seem that the future of platform power extends beyond content alone (and the perils that come with it). Amazon gives us a glimpse of what a future platform titan might look like: one that goes beyond social media and entertainment to offer a unified platform that delivers complete experiences as its service.

As the concentration of power within the Duopoly continues to disperse, the need for both deep and wide platform understanding has become a top imperative for today’s media buyers. It’s a different world, and it takes a different kind of approach to drive brand awareness, customer engagement and revenue growth. At Varick, we are the Platform Media Experts. And we’re here to help.