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Geico and Amazon's Long Game

  |  February 27, 2014   |  Comments

Geico ads on prime video content are just a part of the brand's big long-term strategy with Amazon, Horizon Media says.

Geico is the premier sponsor for the pilots of Amazon Studios' new series, streaming on the Amazon Prime Instant Video service. It's a wide-ranging ad deal that also includes banners and placement on the Amazon Pilot Series home page, as well as ads on Kindles with Special Offers, the cheaper version of the Kindle that shows ads.

From Geico's perspective, the deal reinforces the relationship with Amazon and the strong interest in its data back-end, according to Jason Smith, digital media director at Horizon Media, Geico's media agency of record.

"As an agency, we identify the long game for partners in the space," Smith says. Horizon and Geico have a preferred partnership with Amazon that includes being the first brand to sponsor Amazon Prime Instant Video content, as well as the exclusive sponsorship. "Amazon is a partner above and beyond media, from a technology, e-commerce, and data standpoint, they have a lot of strengths. In the long term, we see ways to continue to build on this partnership."

Smith will not go into detail about the vision for this partnership, but he says that the prime video sponsorship helps Geico reach consumers as it reinforces its brand value.




Noting that the way consumers consume premium video content has shifted, he says Geico was enthusiastic about Amazon's tactic of letting consumers vote on which pilots should go on to become fully produced series. "The experience of allowing folks to vote and choose what content they want produced fit with the business model of Geico. And, long-term, it gives us another way to play a more strategic game around the growth and depth of premium content. Amazon is a great commerce player, and we think they will do well with content - and we wanted to be a part of that from the ground level."

This is not Amazon's only video advertising innovation. Earlier in February, FreeWheel announced it was powering Amazon's video advertising platform. It's handling ad placement and management for ads on Amazon's short-form video content, including game trailers, movie trailers, and how-to videos across several product categories. FreeWheel will handle ad insertion and rights management for video ads. In some cases, it's also providing "shop now" buttons sending consumers directly to products.

"Amazon is making an initiative to expand their video efforts to provide better connections to consumers and leverage the relationship with the consumer across their site. Video is one of the big initiatives they're focused on," says co-chief executive of FreeWheel Doug Knopper. While FreeWheel is not handling all video advertising for Amazon, he says, "We are working closely to have a deeper relationship."

Amazon is a bit of a departure in terms of customers for FreeWheel, which offers a technology platform for ad management and monetization, with a focus on premium television inventory. It usually works with content providers whose primary revenue source is advertising - something Amazon clearly wants to grow.

However, the ads FreeWheel is placing on short video content are not general brand advertising, but more of a merchandising strategy to encourage people to buy at that point in the content, Knopper explains.

FreeWheel provides its platform and analytics to Amazon, which handles ad sales and brand partnerships. Amazon can manage its inventory and track ads on the platform, as well as interface it with its own analytics system. Says Knopper, "Agencies can interface through our system, but usually they go through the media company's. Media companies can do whatever they want to further the relationship with the advertiser."

One thing you won't see on Amazon videos, according to Knopper, is YouTube-style ad-skipping. While FreeWheel can enable this, he says, "In very premium content, you don't see skippable ads. It's much closer to the TV model."

Neither will Geico run any click-to-quote ads around Amazon Prime Instant Video. "We want to be very in tune with what this customer wants. We didn't want to disrupt what customers are expecting from Amazon and Amazon Prime," Smith says. Strategically, our role is to focus on creating brand engagement and consideration with the brand. Amazon represents a web of emerging opportunities that we continue to explore, and we're very excited about long-term game."


Susan Kuchinskas

Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.

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