Is Amazon Getting Into Digital Signage And DOOH? Looks Like It.

March 18, 2022 by Dave Haynes

The online publication Modern Retail, which chronicles guess what, has an interesting, mildly speculative piece up that explores the idea of online retailing behemoth  Amazon selling ads on the screens it is building into its tech-forward physical retail stores.

Last month, Business Insider reported that Amazon was planning on selling in-store digital advertising inventory to sell to brands in its Amazon Fresh stores. And I spoke with some people with direct knowledge of the program and how Amazon is pitching it to brands.

Put together, here’s what we know so far:

  • Amazon is planning on selling ad placements on digital signage its physical grocery stores beginning in the second quarter of this year, per a document leaked to Business Insider.
  • Additionally, the company is reportedly thinking of expanding the inventory to other parts of the shopping experience including smart shopping carts, checkout booths and digital smokescreens on refrigerator doors.
  • A big part of Amazon’s pitch is its data: People with knowledge of the program told me that Amazon’s touted metrics it’s offering to brands include ad play count, estimated impressions, impressions by geography as well as tracked ASIN sales data.
  • It is currently only available to select brands that are already stocked in the stores with fresh ASINs available.

Many big retailers have screens in stores that, in theory or practice, could be made available for ads from consumer goods brands that have products sold in those environments. Walmart even has a demand-side ad platform. But Amazon has the wicked combination of very sophisticated and deep data collection capabilities, combined with its very slick, probably best-of-breed frictionless shopping technology.

In stores using Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, sensors and software have such a grip on shopper behavior they can track what people pick off shelves (and sometimes replace) and complete transactions without any of the normal human or self-checkout processes.

The Modern Retail post continues:

Elizabeth Marsten, senior director of marketplace strategic services at Tinuiti, said Amazon “gets to leap off of what everybody else is doing, which is kind of basic.” That is, retailers like Walmart and Target have been increasingly building out their retail media networks, trying to entice advertisers to buy in-store placements like digital signage. These retailers are also pitching brands on their digital targeting abilities via DSP that’s tied to the company’s first-party data.

Walmart, for example, launched its DSP last year in partnerships with the Trade Desk. But despite recent inroads — “from a tracking prospecting perspective and a people moving around perspective” — none will likely be as advanced as Amazon’s, Marsten said.

Indeed, a media buyer told Modern Retail last year that Walmart’s then-nascent program hinged on how much targeting and measurement information the retailer will be able to share with advertisers.

You could maybe argue that Amazon is already kinda sorta vaguely in the digital signage business, in that some networks run off low-cost Fire TV devices, and some operators use AWS cloud hosting. But this is a lot more direct involvement, and tracks to how Amazon generally rolls. They start with subbing out, but gradually build  their own capabilities, like warehouse and fulfillment, data hosting and even delivery trucks and air cargo. Amazon Go’s frictionless tech is the company’s own IP, and now they license it to other retailers.

So it makes sense that if Amazon is going to run screens in stores and target endemic advertising to them, it will do its own thing.

I can’t even wildly imagine Amazon having a more general offer for a digital signage CMS. The relative market is too small and it’s not what it does. But if Amazon  enables third-party and partner retailers with its Just Walk Out technology, you could imagine how it could layer in the ability to offer up ad-targeting to the screens used by the retailer.

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