Amazon Goes Deeper into Ad Tech with Sizmek Acquisition

Amazon announced today that they have acquired the ad-serving technology of Sizmek, a company who filed for bankruptcy Friday, May 29th and has since sold Rocketfuel to Zeta in mid-April for $36 million dollars.  Amazon is continuously building their own tech stack, and this is another move that signifies they are working to advance their business and compete with Google for non-endemic advertising clients.   

Though still growing at an industry-defying pace, Amazon’s growth in the ad space has slowed in recent quarters. Agencies are hungry for more transparency and tracking, and the ability to measure the impact of ad campaigns through full-circle attribution could reinvigorate excitement around Amazon’s ad offering and boost numbers again. It is also likely to sweeten the deal for agencies as Amazon looks for ad placements in new areas such as OTT and Audio.  

Sizmek focused its efforts on challenging Google Marketing Platform (formerly DoubleClick), and offers Amazon the opportunity to build upon their already developed ad serving platform that touted rich media and Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) as specialty offerings. This purchase may allow Amazon to begin to construct barriers against Google. In fact, Amazon has already started to limit Google’s ability to include 3rd party tags on some of their custom audiences due to privacy.   

If Amazon allows for tagging through Sizmek, it’s possible this could start to shift ad serving share over from Google. Time will tell, but either way programmatic buyers who are now working within Amazon’s DSP have a reason to rejoice: the current Amazon DSP can be frustrating for buyers, and this will only improve upon the current offering Amazon provides.   

This acquisition is about more than just technology, it’s also about people and expertise. Along with the ad server, Amazon also gains the sales and development teams behind the product. This creates a competitive edge; instead of starting from scratch to plus up their ad offering, Sizmek will jump-start Amazon’s maturing ad practice with the power of a knowledgeable team who already has established connections in the industry. 

If it seems like Amazon is making moves into Google’s territory, there is a flip side to that story. Earlier this month, Google announced a revamped Google Shopping experience which greatly expanded the ways that customers can find and purchase goods online through their platform. According to the Google Marketing Live event on May 14, the updates to Google Shopping will allow consumers to complete a purchase on search, Google Images, YouTube and a newly-redesigned homepage where users can filter results by brand, read reviews, and watch product videos. Sounds akin to another popular shopping site! 

Whether or not this acquisition has major implications remains to be seen. Media folks can remember when Facebook acquired Atlas in 2013, and then subsequently shut down the ad serving business in 2016 and their measurement products in 2017. That said, if any company can leverage Sizmek to truly compete, it’s Amazon. They have the right data and infrastructure, they have been focused on attribution recently, and after all, their hallmark is disruption.