Amazon’s NewFront 2023 Game Plan: Ushering in the Age of Cross-Device/Platform TV Ads

By Upfronts/NewFronts Archives
Cover image for  article: Amazon’s NewFront 2023 Game Plan: Ushering in the Age of Cross-Device/Platform TV Ads

Another NewFront, another chance for Amazon to wow first night crowds through its second annual presentation at New York’s Lincoln Center performing arts complex. On May 1, Amazon became the first NewFront or Upfront season participant to stage its event in the recently re-opened David Geffen Hall. At least 2,000 people were on hand to watch its showcase unfold.

The Big Message: Start looking over a groundbreaking buying process for ad campaigns that Amazon, under its Amazon Advertising unit, will introduce this fall. This process allows companies, brands and agencies freedom to run campaigns across both programming services and smart TV platforms -- in this case Amazon Fire TV sets and devices. Example: devise, then buy and run a campaign appearing simultaneously on Freevee -- both the service and the multichannel bundle -- Fire TV content and Twitch, the interactive gaming/pop culture service now running on Samsung's smart TV game hub. "This type of harmony is what we in the media always ask for," said Colleen Aubrey, Amazon Ads’ Senior Vice President of Ad Products and Tech. "We’re committed to make it easier for you to deliver results."

Hosts: A parade of Amazon/Amazon Ad executives, beginning with Aubrey, who gets extra credit for addressing in her opening remarks a range of issues challenging the ad industry, from a fragmented audience measurement landscape to inaccurate data gathering. Before leaving the stage, Aubrey pledged to go the extra mile to supply accurate measurement and outcome-centric information to clients.

What Worked: Filling the David Geffen Hall lobby with exhibits of various Amazon services before and after the presentation, including a Thursday Night Football version of popular Let’s Make A Deal game "Car Pong." Disc jockey Natasha Diggs played a great set of pre/post-event favorite tunes.

What Also Worked: Interview segments that combined the on-stage talk with video clips of the content under discussion. Especially enjoyable: the conversation with executive producers from current Freevee hit mocumentary series Jury Duty and new family sitcom Primo (which debuts May 19).

What Didn't Work: Lack of clarity over whether Amazon Live, which presents live content on mobile, PCs and tablets, will run over smart TVs. Their lobby demo suggested that the service will, and amid announcements of new home shopping series and exclusive pop culture/lifestyle programming from Revolt and Tastemade, no one on stage confirmed a smart TV rollout.

Bonus Points: A string quartet welcoming attendees into David Geffen Hall's Wu Tsai Theater with a few classical takes on hit songs. My favorite: the clever adaptation of Alicia Keys' New York (Empire State of Mind).

Data Points: More than 155 million customers can be reached by the cross-service/device sales structure Amazon will launch this fall. Seventy-five percent of Twitch watchers are between ages 18-34. Freevee's 300-channel bundle increased its viewership time by 75 percent during 2022.

News: Fire TV now has its own free ad-supported channel bundle in business. Fire TV channels will feature a variety of dedicated long-form/short-form services, with Xbox, TMZ, Professional Golf Association and Conde Nast among the charter content suppliers. Both Fire TV and Freevee will carry various interactive and shoppable-formatted commercials this fall, where products and services can be ordered by voice or using a voice remote. Freevee also will beta test immersive ads where the story unfolds over multiple, consecutive commercial pods. Look for plenty of new Freevee original series over the next year, including reality competition satire The GOAT, late-night weekly comedy Mock the Week (co-executive produced by former The Daily Show host Trevor Noah) and Judge Judy Sheindlin-produced docudrama series Justice On Trial. Also, more than 100 Prime Video series and made-for-TV films will get a second ad-supported window on Freevee. Coming up this Thanksgiving holiday week: Thursday Night Football’s new Black Friday game, where during several commercial breaks, multiple 30-second spots from a specific sponsor -- each directed at a different target audience -- will play in the same 30-second space.

Parting Words:

"When people feel bad, they buy a thing. When people feel good, they really buy a thing. The Black consumer is the best consumer. We just need to be listened to." -- Actress/entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross

"The response is shocking. Freevee gave us the space and the freedom to make it. We're over the moon. Thank you for letting us make it." -- Jury Duty Executive Producer David Bernad

"I was told this was Amazon’s version of the Met Gala." -- Thursday Night Football pre/post-game analyst Ryan Fitzpatrick, explaining his dress code for this NewFront event -- black tuxedo jacket included

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