No Offseason: Amazon Ready To Work With Advertisers in Its Sports Properties

 Thursday Night Football 2022 preseason game .
Thursday Night Football 2022 preseason game .
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There is no offseason for Amazon Ads following what it saw as a successful second season of Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video.

At last week’s CES conference in Las Vegas, Amazon was already talking to advertisers about next season and planning to upgrade the advanced advertising products that appeared during the game, Amy McDevitt, sports brand partnership lead at Amazon Ads,  told Broadcasting+Cable.

The company is also thinking ahead to streaming the National Women’s Soccer League in the spring and NASCAR next year as Amazon expands the sports programming it can offer advertisers.

”There really is no offseason here,” McDevitt said. “We’re at CES having conversations and getting people to start thinking about what they want to do in live sports next year.”

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In the just-finished NFL season, ratings for Thursday Night Football jumped 24% to 11.86 million viewers per game. At the same time, Thursday Night Football continued to attract coveted viewers in the 18-to-34 demographic. Its audience was seven years younger than linear NFL telecasts.

The games also attracted 4.1 million cord-cutters, up 55%.

Amy McDevitt
Amy McDevitt

“For advertisers, it’s a great opportunity to reach people that you can’t find anywhere else,” McDevitt said.

Advertisers turned out for Amazon. More than half of the sponsors of Thursday Night Football were new to Prime Video and about 20% were new to advertising during NFL games.

“They’re dipping their toe in the water on the NFL,” she said. “I’m sure the NFL is excited about it, too.”

Working with measurement and analytics company EDO, Amazon found that advertising on Thursday Night Football was effective, generating a 70% higher search rate than ads in primetime on broadcast and cable and 59% higher ads on NFL telecasts on linear networks.

During the season, Amazon also streamed the NFL’s first Black Friday game on the busiest shopping day of the year. The game drew a unique audience with 24% of its viewers watching a game on Prime Video for the first time, according to Nielsen, while 31% did not watch any of the NFL games played on Thanksgiving Day.

“The unique thing that we bring to market is the ability to connect content with commerce for brands,” McDevitt said. Many brands worked with Amazon to create ads with football themes, some incorporating Thursday Night Football talent, to be more contextually relevant to football. Last season those brands included State Farm and General Mills.

“We’ve doubled the work we did in that space in 2023, and I can only imagine that we’ll do more of it next season,” she said.

Engagement with interactive ads on Black Friday was 250% higher than the games Amazon streamed on Thursday nights. Amazon’s shoppable interactive video ads on Black Friday had 4 times higher engagement than ads with QR codes for brands that ran both interactive ads and ads with QR codes.

Amazon Ads is looking to boost the effectiveness of its ads next season.

Its interactive ads were shoppable on Fire TV devices last season. Next season, fans will be able to add products directly to their Amazon card from the telecast with a single click.

Amazon is also upgrading its audience-based creative, which enabled advertisers to run commercials aimed at different target audiences within the same 30-second commercial slot. Next season targeting capabilities will be expanded and brands will be able to exclude specific audiences if they choose to.

McDevitt suggested that some advertisers might also want to work with Amazon to keep cameras rolling after the game while the winning team is celebrating leading into Prime’s post-game show.

“We’re lucky, because we can provide a lot of optionality,” she said. “We’ve got alternate streams, which have been really fun to play around with.”

Amazon will be creating ad programs designed for the NWSL and NASCAR that build on Thursday Night Football programs.

“We’ll create a bespoke opportunity that fits within soccer,” McDevitt said. “I know we will want to get the sport right. We want to create something unique for all those properties and make and make sure that the fans feel we’re authentic within the environment.”

McDevitt said Amazon is seeing a lot of advertiser interest in women’s sports. Amazon is in the process of formalizing what it will bring to market.

“We’re very excited to not only engage with our advertising customers, but champion women’s sports and create interesting brand experiences around that,” she said.

She added that planning has also begun for Amazon’s NASCAR races, which won’t start until 2025.

Unlike football, soccer has few timeouts during play, which means most commercials will run at halftime. Auto racing also offers few breaks for commercials.

“Our production team is really talented and we’ll continue to work with them to figure out how we can bring more content to the sports fan,” McDevitt said. “It could involve partnering with somebody on a break takeover, where we keep one eye on what’s happening on the field as we’re telling an advertising message at the same time.”