The internet ad market is in a tricky situation after Apple enacted rules against using cookies on Safari web browsers and made it harder to track consumers on devices through advertising identifiers. Meanwhile, Google also said it would eliminate third-party cookies on Chrome by the end of 2023, and it is making similar changes to Android software to restrict sharing data on devices.
Now, publishers—many of which don’t have logged-in audiences and do not know much about their audiences—are trying new ad IDs to match consumers with advertisers. Companies like ID5, LiveRamp, Lotame and others are developing new IDs, which basically take data that a website gleans about a consumer, based on their anonymous activities on the site, and pairs it with data from the ad tech partners. The data is supposed to create a richer targeting persona that a publisher sends out to internet ad auctions, looking for buyers.
Publishers, however, have a lot of vendors to choose from, and that’s where Amazon Connections Marketplace enters. “Amazon is building one-click integration through that Connections Marketplace,” said Eric Hochberger, CEO of Mediavine, an ad management platform that works with publishers. “So that if you do want to launch a new ID, it’s just one click and you don’t have to install anything.”
Amazon, however, also does not represent a significant amount of non-Google activity in advertising auctions on websites, according to an executive from a prominent data management company, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Amazon is competing with Google, which is a dominant force in internet advertising. Google made $210 billion in ad revenue in 2021, compared to Amazon’s $31 billion.
Millions of websites are using Google as the backbone of their advertising auctions, through Google Ad Manager. Google has been tinkering with how it serves publishers to get them ready for the end of cookies and fewer sources of data. For instance, Google is developing a program called “Encrypted Signals for Publishers,” which is another way publishers work with ID providers to augment their data to match it with consumers.
Google also has been making it easier for sites that use its ad manager to incorporate auctions from outside Google. In April, Google introduced an easier way for publisher to incorporate Prebid, the open-source ad auction software that facilitates “header bidding.” Header bidding is how many publishers receive competing bids in ad auctions. Google has a complicated history with header bidding, and lawmakers and regulators have been investigating how the company allegedly tried to stymie that ad auction alternative. Amazon has its own header bidding program as part of Amazon Publisher Services.
Publishers are always looking for new sources of advertising demand, because the more entities in the auctions, the better chance they have at commanding a higher CPM—cost per thousand impressions. Amazon Publisher Services is Amazon’s way of jumping into ad auctions on any website, and the Connections Marketplace is where the websites can load up on vendors, picking and choosing partners that could help lift ad prices.
Amazon does not charge a fee for publishers to use the Connections Marketplace, but the publishers do pay vendors in the platform.
“We want to make it easy for publishers to discover, trial, activate, and operate third-party ad tech solutions. They want to help drive their businesses.” an Amazon spokesperson said in an email about the program. “It’s still early, and we’ll continue expanding the selection of services and categories.”