Enter the Ecommerce Giants: Part 1, The Route to Market

The Ecommerce GiantsIn the first part of a two part series, we look at what the ecommerce giants bring to the video advertising table, and at the strengths and weaknesses of their model. This part will focus mainly on the moves the various ecommerce players are making, the programmatic market they’re mainly focusing on, and how what they bring to the table.

On Monday it was announced that Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce giant, invested $1.22 billion in Yukou Tudou, an online video company that came about through the 2012 merger of Yukou and Tudou, two of China’s leading online video platforms.

Alibaba’s latest push into video isn’t particularly surprising. The company, whose interests range from B2B and B2C ecommerce right through to cloud computing, media and CE products, already has an array of ad tech and media interests (parts of which VAN outlined before, including Yahoo China). However, the deal is more interesting when viewed as part of a wider trend, where various retail giants across the world are combining ecommerce with ad tech, media and — most importantly — data.

While we’re still at the stage where only the largest companies are making meaningful moves, we’re seeing moves being made everywhere. It’ sno secret that Amazon has been building its media and ad tech business for some time now. Then Tesco-owned Dunnhumby acquired Sociomantic earlier in the month, which will in all likelihood be used in conjunction with Tesco’s loyalty card data and Clubcard TV, while Japan’s ecommerce giant, Rakuten, is hotly tipped to move deeper into ad tech in a bid to add to its existing media, affiliate marketing and SEM interests.

A Unique Route into the Media Market

It now seems like we’re well past the toe-dipping stage and most of the ecommerce companies are fully aware of the fact that that there are huge opportunities for them when it comes to data-driven advertising. But first let’s take a brief look at the maret they’re joining, and how their route to market differs from traditional online media companies and platforms.

The industry’s ecosystem is usually presented to us in the form of the infamous Lumascape charts, where you have the advertiser on one side and the publisher on the other, with the agencies, ad networks and ad tech solutions wedged in between.

However, for the purposes of this article, we’re going to boil the programmatic side of the industry right down to the very basics. So a straightforward  programmatic media buy would typically involve the following players:

Advertiser > Agency/DSP > Exchange > Publisher

Then you have various ad tech players within the Lumascape — most notably AOL, Adobe and Google — who are building stacks with a view to being the only player between advertisers and publishers, so you have:

Advertiser > Ad Tech Stack > Publisher

Or, in some instances, the ad tech stack owner is also selling the advertiser media, as AOL and Google do, so the publisher and the ad tech provider are the same company:

Advertiser > Ad Tech Stack/Publisher

However, the relationship becomes a little more complex when it comes to the ecommerce and retail behemoths. Suddenly the Lumascape, with the advertiser on one side and the publisher on the other, needs to be tweaked in small but extremely significant ways.

After all, if we’re talking about a major brand dealing with a major online retailer, there’s a high chance that the brand is already supplying the company with its products, so the relationship looks something like this:

Advertiser/Supplier > Ecommerce /Ad Tech/Publisher/Distribution/Sales/Payment/Delivery

As we’ll see in part two, these additional dimensions to the relationship are likely to significantly affect how the ecommerce giants approach digital advertising.

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