Almost six months after the first Kindle with Special Offers arrived bearing on-screen ads for national brands such as Buick, Olay and Visa, the devices are more often than not serving up ads from Amazon itself, primarily in the form of Amazon Local daily deals.
Advertisers that have used the Kindle say they liked the results, but whether that will translate into a sustained ad base for the product isn't clear.
Buick said consumer engagement with its ads on the Kindle matched the engagement it gets on more established mobile platforms. But Buick mostly used the new platform to associate its brand with innovation.
"If we continue to partner with technology partners and jump at every first, best innovation in the tech space we can, that rubs off on us in a creative manner," said Buick ad director Craig Bierley. "So Kindle falls into that bucket."
Now that the initial burst of curiosity and PR around the Kindle with Special Offers has passed, Buick hasn't decided whether to return. "First and foremost it was about getting involved in the property when it launched, and then it really has to earn its way into the plan," Mr. Bierley said.
ABC recently used the Kindle with Special Offers to promote its new drama, "Revenge," by inviting Kindle owners to download the script for the show's pilot episode before it aired. "We knew that we wanted people to get a sampling of the show in advance," said Marla Provencio, exec VP at ABC Entertainment Group.
Over 24,000 people downloaded the script to their Kindles, according to ABC. "I think obviously this is a relationship that we will continue with the right show," Ms. Provencio said.
Other past and present Kindle advertisers either declined to comment (as in AT&T's case) or did not respond to inquiries (Olay and Visa).
National brands have been the exception rather than the rule in the past month, when the overwhelming majority of ads on the Kindle with Special Offers have come from Amazon Local. For a Brooklynite, for example, that 's meant promotions for local spas, restaurants and other merchants, such as Gold Coast Delicatessen and Bushwick Community Darkroom.
Amazon said demand from national marketers hasn't declined since the device came out. "Not at all," said Lisa Utzschneider, Amazon's VP-advertising sales, in an email provided by a spokesman. "We're excited to offer customers access to Amazon Local deals on Kindle, in addition to offers and sponsored screensavers from other companies."
Amazon doesn't disclose how many Kindles with Special Offers it's sold, so it's hard to tell how many consumers it can quickly muster for advertisers. "There are millions of people who read on Kindle and we've been very happy with the performance of sponsored screensavers and special offers on Kindle," Ms. Utzschneider said.
One media buyer said she has considered using Kindle with Special Offers but passed so far, partly because it didn't offer enough reach. "Because we're looking at targeting a wide, broad demographic, it ends up being niche for us," said Andrea Redniss, managing director at Digital Media Storm, where she handles digital marketing for TV and entertainment clients. "But if you had a more niche product it might be a segment worthy of testing."
More marketers will try Kindle with Special Offers -- ads promoting Sony Pictures' "Anonymous" began appearing last week. But the question will be how the platform stacks up against more-established options -- or the next innovative new platform to come along. "If the numbers are good enough, it will continue to stay on the plan," said Ms. Redniss.
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