Watch the New Amazon Originals, Presented by GEICO

/ Feb 12, 2014


If you haven’t had the time to check out Amazon’s new crop of “primetime” (read: not for kids) original series, you really should. There’s some decent stuff in there.

Here’s what else is in there: 30-second spots from GEICO, which precede every primetime pilot you watch on Amazon Instant Video.

This isn’t completely new for Amazon, which in the past has placed pre-roll ads in front of free TV shows on the Kindle Fire.

But as far as I can tell, this is the first time Amazon has placed pre-rolls in front of its free-to-watch original pilots. And by the looks of it, GEICO, as part of its sponsorship deal for Amazon’s “pilot season,” has bought out the ad-space for all five new original adult series from Amazon: “The After,” “Bosch,” “Transparent,” “The Rebels,” and “Mozart in the Jungle.” (The five kids shows seem to be safe.)

It’s an interesting thing to note and keep track of as Amazon builds out its video ad business with the help of FreeWheel. If Amazon is already willing to sell ad space* in front of its original pilots, that means it has to be considering the same thing for any of these shows that get a full-season order.

The most expensive piece of real estate for video advertisers online would be if Netflix opened up a spot in front of any of its original and licensed content. That’s probably never going to happen. So the next best thing for TV advertisers online would be an SVOD service like Amazon or Hulu.

Hulu’s already well-versed in selling TV ads and TV-like ad experiences on its free and subscription platforms.

If Amazon chooses to do the same, which seems to be at least in play, then it could lead to major changes in the online video ad landscape.

Granted, we don’t know how big Amazon Prime/Instant Video is yet. The last “reported” numbers pegged the service as having at least 20 million subscribers. This was based on comments made by Amazon CFO Tom Szkutak, who said in a Q4 earnings call that Prime subscribers numbered in the “tens of millions.” As far as we know, the viewership for Prime Instant Video (which is but one element of the overall Prime package), could be much lower.

But if Amazon is able to demonstrate that the content on its streaming service is getting sizable viewership — which the company would have to if it has any interest in selling inventory to advertisers — then it does become a different ball-game.

* One thing Amazon should figure out, though — and I don’t want to be giving them this idea — is to not make it easy for viewers to fast-forward past the ads. The way the GEICO ads are set-up in front of the pilots, they’ve been inserted into the same stream as the show itself, making it easy for you to move past it if you so choose (which I did).

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