In publishing, we tend to evaluate Amazon as it affects the sale and distribution of physical and digital books. That’s natural, but it’s also limiting.
In its May 28 issue, Advertising Age featured a page-one article,"Apple's Biggest Threat in Mobile Ad Space? Amazon". Written by Kunur Patel, the article notes that Amazon “owns massive mobile traffic”, not on its own devices, but across a wide range of platforms.
Citing Comscore, Patel writes that something like half of all smartphone subscribers visited an Amazon site in March 2012. That access, coupled with the purchase data Amazon can generate on $48.1 billion in products and services, makes for a pretty good advertising platform.
The targeted-advertising model went mainstream with Apple’s debut of iAd in 2010. According to Advertising Age, Apple can claim 225 million iTunes accounts that rung up $5.4 billion in sales of media and apps in 2011.
Both Apple and Amazon have redefined how media is sold and bought, something publishing can only respond to. Certainly, Amazon makes for a tough competitor, but it is one whose sites were visited by more than 100 million U.S. users in April alone.
As I’ve noted before, Amazon’s ambitions are much larger than the book business alone. With strong prospects in mobile targeting, Amazon (and Apple) could help the rush of publishers who are converts to the challenges of ‘discoverability’. Their platforms and market knowledge might even bring books to people who never thought about them before.