Reuters / Richard Brian
- Amazon is hiring for two roles that are part of a new team called "stealth advertising innovation" to disrupt the gaming industry.
- The job postings promise candidates ‘unparalleled’ access to Amazon’s data, suggesting that Amazon may be making advertising a bigger priority.
- E-commerce agency sources see the move as evidence that Amazon is trying to grow its programmatic advertising business but warned that too many ads may annoy users.
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Amazon has been building up its advertising business to compete with Amazon and Google, and now it wants to expand into the gaming industry.
According to two new job postings on LinkedIn, Amazon is hiring for a new "stealth advertising innovation" team specializing in gaming advertising. Both roles suggest that the team will get "deep" access to Amazon’s trove of purchase data to build out programmatic tools for advertisers.
It’s unclear if the roles are tied to Amazon’s live streaming Twitch platform or Amazon Advertising, the arm that helps advertisers place ads across Amazon.com and publishers’ websites.
"We’re looking for the right hands-on engineer to work on a disruptive advertising system set to revolutionize customer acquisition for gamers," both job posts read. "Imagine layering the strength of Amazon’s deep purchase history data with the power of machine learning to build a programmatic service that will disrupt the $100 billion-plus gaming industry!"
A spokesperson from Twitch wouldn’t comment on the job postings and an Amazon representative did not respond to a request for comment.
Twitch is Amazon’s live video game-streaming site that it acquired for nearly $1 billion in 2014. Since then, the company has steadily increased the amount of native and video advertising it sells to brands like Wendy’s and Nissan. But the company has been slow to go all-in on advertising to avoid annoying gamers with ads, and advertisers haven’t moved significant budgets there.
Video game advertising is a small but growing industry. Within esports specifically, research firm eMarketer expects for marketers to spend $20 million on the industry by 2020.
While the Amazon roles are focused on the gaming industry, the listings state that the team that these two roles will be part of could apply to other industries. The post for the lead engineering role says that role could be based out of Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle or the Bay Area, suggesting that Amazon is targeting Silicon Valley talent.
Amazon’s influence in advertising has grown over the past couple of years but advertisers knock its lack of data as a so-called walled garden as one of their biggest complaints about the e-commerce giant. However, these two job postings hint that staffers could have more access to data than they have up until now.
"As an initial member of the founding team you will have unparalleled access, scope and impact to Amazon’s closely guarded trove of purchase pattern data," reads the listings.
Amazon’s move into gaming has marketers intrigued
Trevor George, CEO of digital agency Blue Wheel Media, said he believed that the Amazon’s postings fit into the company’s small but growing programmatic business. He also speculated that the roles were for Twitch.
Amazon makes the bulk of its advertising revenue from ads placed on its website and apps and has been moving into video and display advertising to grow budgets from marketers that don’t sell items on Amazon.
"This is in line with the general direction that Amazon Advertising is moving to be heavier on display and video units," George said. "They’re finally starting to take advantage of the insane reach they have in the gaming industry because of Twitch."
He said the team referenced in the job postings suggest that Amazon will expand advertisers’ access to targeting tools in Amazon DSP, the company’s demand-side platform that places ads on publishers’ websites. For example, an advertiser like Sony could target consumers who own Microsoft’s Xbox consoles or people who play specific games.
Will Margaritis, SVP of e-commerce at Dentsu Aegis Network, said he was intrigued by Amazon’s postings because of their focus on machine learning, which implied to him that Amazon could be developing technology to serve personalized ads to consumers.
However, he warned that Amazon’s move into gaming could cause users to revolt. While Twitch has ramped up its pitch to apply to non-gaming brands, advertisers are still concerned that too many ads may cause users to revolt.
"Stealth advertising is likely the only way to do this at scale — if the consumer is unaware they’re being advertised to, they’re less likely to review bomb the product," he said.
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