Amazon Ads’ Digital Upfront: what we learnt

Posted on Wednesday 19 October 2022 | IAB UK

From reaching Gen Z to sports fans, Amazon Ads' Upfront gave us a fascinating insight into how its products are reaching streamers across the UK

From Amazon Prime to Twitch to Amazon Freevee, the goal at Amazon is “to entertain audiences with stories that move them” explained Phil Christer, Managing Director UK, as he opened Amazon Ads’ 2022 Digital Upfront alongside Lou Emmerson, UK Sales Director, Twitch. What followed was a deep-dive into how Amazon is reaching streaming audiences across the UK, as the team was joined by the creators that make its content so popular. Here’s what we learnt. 


2023 could be a tipping point for streaming

There’s no debating that steaming audiences are huge. Twitch has 31 million daily visitors, Fire TV has sold 150 million devices worldwide and, in the UK this year, digital video audiences will surpass 50 million, according to Amazon Ads. Discussing the “perfect storm” that has led to the explosion of streaming, Starcom’s Sophie Barr, Managing Partner, said that the pandemic coincided with the “sudden elevation of streaming in culture”. While Samsung is currently leading the way in Barr’s opinion when it comes to harnessing the streaming opportunity, she predicts next year will be “the tipping point” for other brands following suit. 

Further demonstrating the opportunities that exist in the streaming space, Amazon gave an insight into the new products that are defining its offering to the market. Amazon Freevee is a premium, ad-supported streaming service that has an “ambition to provide content that our customers would expect to find behind a paywall”, explained Lisa Rosseau, Head of Amazon Freevee UK. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Fire TV aims to “make every TV smarter” according to  Emma Gilmartin, Director, Fire TV & Tablet EU. The newly launched Fire TV Cube is a great example of how technology is evolving, offering audiences Alexa voice control and super resolution upscaling. 


How to resonate with Gen Z audiences

From music to gaming to cooking, Twitch is a “combination of powerful things” that allows creators to interact and engage with audiences in real-time. Adam Harris, Global Head, Brand Partnership Studio at Twitch, was joined by Twitch creator Ebonix - real name Danielle Udogaranya - to give delegates an insight into how the platform is resonating with Gen Z. Harris started by outlining the key findings from Twitch’s research into the demographic, which harnessed semiotic analysis to understand how this hyper-connected generation interacts and what brands need to be aware of. 

According to the findings, Gen Z values authentic communication with the creators and news providers they engage with. Udogaranya’s experience aligns with this, as she explained the value of  “talking to that community and building up a relationship with them”. From a brand’s perspective, this means working with content creators directly to “share organic content with that community”.  Being inclusive and having a meaningful purpose is also highly valued by Gen Z, with Udogaranya adding: “I 100% will only work with brands that align with my values.”


Viewers want that close up interaction 

Sports broadcaster Simon Thomas joined Prime Video’s Alex Green, Managing Director of Sport, for a fireside chat about how live sports reporting is evolving and what streaming audiences want when they tune in. “The landscape in which I’ve worked for the past 25 years… It’s a totally different landscape to when I first started,” Thomas explained, with viewers able to serve up “instant reaction, instant comment and instant judgment”. 

Yet Thomas added that the core value of his role has remained constant, keeping pace with digital innovation: “You have to remain true to what you’re there to do, invite the viewer in and give them a really good experience.” Essentially “viewers want that close up interaction” and streaming services are helping to satisfy a generation of young sport’s fans that are “motivated by stats”, via services like Prime Video X-Ray. The interconnected nature of live sports today also means that broadcasters can react in real time to what is playing out off the pitch, with Thomas sharing that “at any given moment, something can become way bigger than what you’re feeling in the studio”. 

You can find out more about Digital Upfronts and upcoming events here.

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