Jul 16, 2019

The rise of online marketplaces

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new report from GroupM's Brian Wieser, one of the top advertising industry analysts, finds that large online marketplaces account for a majority of e-commerce activity and are growing as a percentage of e-commerce activity at a faster rate than direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands.

Why it matters: Following e-commerce trends is important in understanding what shapes the media industry because of the ripple effect it creates in the types of advertising growth.

How it works: Online marketplaces like Amazon have become media owners themselves, and generate online ad revenue — mostly by expanding their search capabilities — from the manufacturers and brands they work with.

  • This is likely helping the bigger search ad market, because marketplaces need to drive traffic to their websites, Wieser argues.
  • By contrast, D2C brands typically spend much more on social platforms and with influencers.
  • Because D2C companies are experiencing slower revenue growth than marketplaces, Wieser argues that this could have a decelerating effect on certain social channels, but it will likely be offset by the fact that direct brands will begin to spend a greater percentage of their revenue on advertising.

Be smart: In a new piece for Bloomberg Opinion, Shira Ovide wisely points out that investors wrongly treat Amazon's $11 billion advertising sales business as a standalone operation akin to Google, when in reality, Amazon's ads are an added fee for sellers on Amazon.

What to watch: As Amazon Prime Day rolls into its second day Tuesday, some of its competitors may see a lift in online shopping, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.

Go deeper: E-commerce is upending Madison Avenue, led by Amazon

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Tech giants still crush the ad market despite looming threats

Data: eMarketer and Zenith Media; Chart: Axios Visuals

Despite ongoing efforts to reel in the dominance of Big Tech companies, a few major firms still manage to eat up more ad revenue than most other publishers (and publishing industries) combined.

Why it matters: The continued strength of these companies, particularly in the data-based advertising sector, has shifted the focus in Washington over the past three years from holding firms accountable for bad policies or sloppy mistakes to taking action against them as monopolies.

Go deeperArrowJul 25, 2019

Amazon shares slide as it misses earnings expectations

Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images

Amazon's shares were down 1–2% after hours Thursday after the e-commerce giant reported $5.22 in earnings per share, missing Wall Street's projected $5.57. Amazon did, however, beat revenue expectations for the second quarter, reporting $63.4 billion, compared to the projected $62.5 billion, per CNBC. AWS revenue was $8.38 billion, falling short of the expected $8.5 billion.

The backdrop: This quarter's earnings report comes as Amazon is facing regulatory scrutiny in the U.S. and Europe. The company recently had its most successful Prime Day to date, and has invested more than $800 million to speed up 2-day delivery to 1-day.

Go deeperArrowJul 25, 2019

How Amazon will take over your house

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In recent years, Amazon has made a series of investments, acquisitions and R&D moves in the smart home industry. None seemed particularly consequential on its own, but with a real estate deal last week, Amazon appears to have captured first-mover advantage in one of the most important new industries on the planet.

Why it matters: With the deals, Amazon has taken a pioneering lead in what has come to be called "surveillance capitalism," which includes some of the biggest businesses of the future, like 5G, autonomous vehicles and smart cities. Now, the behemoth, with its edge in this new economy, is positioned to explode its revenue.

Go deeperArrowAug 1, 2019