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Amazon Video Shorts Helps Sell Products

Amazon unveiled Video Shorts last year, an amalgam of brand promotion, product placement, and entertainment videos. What is the service, and is Amazon.com competing with YouTube?

There has been more to browse than just books on Amazon.com for many years, with video content becoming another part of the company’s virtual store aisles. Streamed TV shows and movies available via the company’s Instant Video service make Amazon a competitor with services like Netflix and Hulu today. And last year, Amazon acquired a live-streaming platform for video game-related content called Twitch.

Amazon’s Video Shorts presents a different feel to visitors. It’s more like a three-year-old YouTube in content and function. Visually it’s much like the Netflix “carousel” when it comes to navigating the available videos.

But what is Amazon trying to do with Video Shorts? Sell a featured product? One would think so of fitness tracking gadget Fitbit, which has well over a dozen videos promoting it, including an interview with the company’s CEO.

An Amazon spokesperson told EcommerceBytes some general concepts about Video Shorts, noting how they wish to provide a great experience for their customers, “whether they’re watching video for entertainment, research, or to help them make purchase decisions. That means continuing to expand selection breadth and depth and offering content that helps customers find, discover and learn about great brand and products.”

What about brand promotion? Honda’s luxury car brand Infiniti has a number of videos present, and they are even a sponsor of one of the Fitbit videos mentioned earlier. However, even Amazon’s breadth of product lines doesn’t include car sales – one can’t buy a 2015 Q50 on the site no matter what gets clicked.

“For brands whose products aren’t sold on Amazon, it provides an opportunity to educate interested customers through longer video stories, and this enriched information benefits customers as well,” Amazon said.

Amazon declined to comment on specifics regarding campaigns like Infiniti’s, saying “a number of factors that determine what customers will see on the main Video Shorts page, all through the lens of providing the right customer experience.”

However, visitors to Amazon will likely see such videos for Infiniti or Fitbit elsewhere on the site. “Customers may also see this content surface in relevant search results or relevant product detail pages,” Amazon said.

Amazon’s extension into video advertising began in early 2014. As noted at Ad Age, advertisements for insurance firm Geico began appearing as pre-roll video placements for content viewed via Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Digital video ads represent a potential lucrative windfall for Amazon, should they be able to widen their efforts to attract a broad advertiser pool. Last year the Pew Research Center, citing analysis by Credit Suisse, pegged the cost per thousand video impressions (CPM) at $24.80, with a range of $18.60 to 32.80. Pew further noted that would be roughly five to ten times more than a traditional display ad.

As to competing with YouTube, Amazon demurred, saying only “Video Shorts is about providing a great short-form video experience for Amazon customers.”

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.