Amazon renames its ad services to cut down on the confusion

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Amazon says its services will remain the same under new name for the ad business.
Amazon says its services will remain the same under new name for the ad business. Credit: Amazon

Amazon is trying to simplify its advertising business with a rebrand, meant to clear up the confusing jumble of acronyms and disparate ad products that are hard for even the most sophisticated buyers to untangle.

On Wednesday, Amazon debuted Amazon Advertising, which encompasses all the parts of an ad business that previously operated in isolation: Amazon Media Group, Amazon Marketing Services and Amazon Ad Platform.

"This is another step towards our goal of providing advertising solutions that are simple and intuitive for the hundreds of thousands of advertisers who use our products," said Paul Kotas, senior VP of Amazon advertising.

Amazon for years developed its ad products piecemeal. The media group handled highly customized ad campaigns that require close collaboration with Amazon, for example, such as putting brands on the delivery boxes. It also ran managed services for big-spending brands, helping them execute ad buys across Amazon properties.

Amazon Marketing Services represented the automated ad buying platform. Brands and agencies could go directly to the marketing services self-serve platform to participate in ad auctions and buy display and search ads.

As for the Amazon Ad Platform, it was the name for the ad marketplace that delivers ads across the internet to publishers. It's a demand side platform, offering advertisers to target ads outside Amazon.

Amazon's universe of web properties is complicated, too: There's the main e-commerce site, Fire TV, Prime Video and IMDB. It also owns Twitch, the streaming video service, which was not mentioned in Wednesday's rebrand and still runs most of its own ad sales internally.

Under the new branding, there is the main Amazon Advertising, which comprises all the same services that used to fall under the separate groups. Amazon Ad Platform will be known as Amazon DSP.

Amazon also changed the name of its "Headline Search Ads," which let brands place banner ads atop search results with a headline of their choice, to "Sponsored Brands"—more in line with Amazon's most popular ad unit, Sponsored Products.

Amazon's ad changes have been coming for a long time as the business matures and attracts more advertisers and agencies. The advertising segment is the fastest-growing inside Amazon, up 132 percent in the second quarter, generating $2.2 billion.

The moves are also a sign of how Amazon intends to keep pushing into advertising, and to keep automating the platform to make it easier for brands to buy ads and measure the results. Amazon has taken steps this year to improve its measurement tools, including developing a pixel that tracks the performance of ads outside of Amazon. That lets brands compare the success of their ads on and off Amazon.

Amazon also started testing Sponsored Products ads on websites outside its own properties, expanding the universe of ad inventory for its most popular ad format. And Amazon is increasing the amount of video ad space on its properties, including into search ads.

The company meanwhile has been managing fewer brands' advertising itself, focusing on the ones that spend the most money and diverting the rest to be handled by ad agencies, according to several marketers that spoke recently on the condition of anonymity. Almost every major agency has been investing in building up Amazon services for clients.

"Amazon is rethinking how it structures partnerships with brands," says one digital agency executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They want to get away from the white glove in-house services."

Still, Amazon says the rename of the ad business will not change the types ad products and services it offers.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said Amazon Marketing Services let brands and agencies buy display, search and video ads. Video was not among its offerings.

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