When Titans Fight: Amazon Takes on YouTube for Video Ad Dollars

YouTube hoped brand safety concerns were safely in the rear view mirror, but today news broke that Amazon is using the issue to pry video advertisers away from the web’s leading video destination.

According to five sources interviewed by CNBC, Amazon is in talks with advertisers to lure them away from YouTube. It’s promising two things YouTube has had a problem with: complete brand safety and more viewer data.

Amazon logoAmazon has far fewer viewers than YouTube—310 million active monthly customers compared to 1.5 billion, CNBC says—but it can pair viewing data with detailed metrics on shopping habits. According to one unnamed source, that’s a “game changer; the big thing to watch for disrupting the overall ecosystem.”

Amazon’s views come from Amazon Video Direct (AVD), a platform where creators can upload and monetize their own works, and Twitch. So far, AVD hasn’t had much traction with advertisers because it doesn’t offer much viewer data and is a pricey buy. Since Amazon talked to advertisers about launching new initiatives, it could have an entirely new video destination in mind. It’s also been in talks with technology vendors to create a firewall between brand videos and content that isn’t brand friendly.

Last month, Amazon signed the papers to create an advertising office in New York City, perhaps an early sign that this was in the works. Thanks to its foothold in online shopping, some in the industry—such as Martin Sorrell, CEO of advertising and PR company WPP—see it as one of the few that could take on Google for video ad dominance.

Google is doing its part to alieve brand advertisers of their safety concerns: It shifted advertisers to its Google Preferred program, a walled garden of top-performing videos. Since then, it’s been able to rebuild trust and has seen its ad sales bounce back.


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