Amazon will present for the first time at major digital advertising event

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Amazon is looking to expand its burgeoning advertising business and its next stop is the digital media’s biggest show.

The Jeff Bezos-led company said Thursday that it will join the likes of Twitter, Snap and Google’s YouTube in pitching advertisers at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s NewFronts event. 

The spring NewFronts are digital media’s riff on the traditional TV upfronts where advertisers have traditionally committed a large amount of their annual TV spend. During the NewFronts, online media firms present their programming for the year ahead to media buyers.

There’s usually some pomp and circumstance to the event, which normally boasts a few booze-fueled cocktail hours, sprinkled with the occasional live music performance, but this year, with COVID still lingering, the NewFronts will take place virtually from May 3 to May 6.

Amazon has become a digital advertising juggernaut in recent years with its ecosystem of original films, TV shows, podcasts, IMDb TV ad-supported offering, voice technology and connected devices, to name a few.

According to a recent ad survey from analyst firm Cowen, Amazon will be the leading market share gainer among major digital ads businesses in 2021 and 2022. The report was based on responses from 52 senior US ad buyers in December who represent $15 billion in US ad spend.

Amazon had been scheduled to make its NewFronts debut in 2020, but the pandemic threw a wrench in those plans. This year, the tech company will join other first-time presenters such as A+E Networks, Entercom, Estrella Media, Penske Media and Vizio, as well as mainstay publishing world players like BuzzFeed, Condé Nast, BBC News and Vice Media Group. 

The event, which drew over 14,000 brands, agencies and media buyers in 2020, will focus on the impact of the pandemic on consumer behavior this year and how content creators adapted.

Looking at Amazon’s fourth-quarter results, changing behaviors benefited the company’s ad business following a pandemic dip. Amazon’s “other” category, which mainly consists of advertising, rose 64 percent in the quarter, reeling in $7.9 billion in revenue.

In order to maintain its strong growth, the e-commerce giant said last week during an IAB leadership meeting that it will offer product placement and branded content opportunities in its upcoming slate of IMDB TV originals. The company also plans to expand its podcast advertising.

Amazon Studios chief operating officer and co-head of TV Albert Cheng said during the meeting that the sale of goods directly through TV screens is also an emerging opportunity.

Television commerce, or “T-commerce” is in its “early days,” Cheng said but one encouraging example has been the Amazon’s partnership with pop star Rihanna’s fashion brand Savage x Fenty. Starting in 2019, Amazon has streamed the brand’s star-studded fall shows and embedded those streams with buying opportunities.

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