Amazon Live struggles to attract publishers amid video growing pains

amazon vacuum
Written by publishing team

Amazon had been hoping to celebrate Cyber ​​Monday with big help from the publisher’s shoppable live video this year. With one notable exception, those hopes were not fulfilled.

After more than two years of renewing the focus on its direct shopping product, Amazon Live, Amazon still relies mostly on an eclectic group of reality TV stars and YouTubers to deliver live video content, despite months of efforts to recruit publishers and audiences. compiled on other platforms.

While Amazon continues to play a defining role in most publishers’ affiliate businesses, many publishers view it with caution. And in determining the extent of Amazon Live’s pleas, many have heard something loose and ambiguous, with the only real priority being training publishers’ audiences to use Amazon Live, according to sources at four publishers provided by Amazon. Those sources spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid jeopardizing an important business relationship.

“They have nothing to share about how to build an audience,” said one publisher source who discussed Amazon Live with Amazon.

While Amazon offered some money to mitigate the costs that come from producing live content, the same amounts were often less than what was needed to produce high-quality live video on the scale that Amazon requested. One source said that for four hours of live video streaming each month, Amazon would pay less than $5,000.

Over the past year and a half, the combination of intense shutdowns, rushing e-commerce activity and boredom has fueled speculation about the rise of live shopping, a consumer behavior that has become commonplace in China but has not achieved mass consumer adoption. in the United States of America.

During that time frame, Amazon was able to turn live streaming into a meaningful source of income for some indie creators, some of whom earned tens of thousands of dollars during holiday sales like Prime Day.

But Amazon, which declined to comment on the record for this story, has never released information about how many creators, brands or publishers create content for Live. And publishers still have scars from their recent foray into the platform into an unproven live video format (see Facebook Live). With so many hesitant to trust Amazon today, they often still ignore it.

“I don’t feel the need to push into space before I have that relative confidence that our efforts will produce something meaningful,” said a third source offered by Amazon. “I feel like they haven’t figured it out for the publishers yet.”

Sellers Market (G)

On one level, Amazon Live is simply the next step forward for their affiliate marketing program, Amazon Associates. Its dynamics will be familiar to any publisher: if an Amazon customer watches an Amazon Live video, and then buys one of the video’s premium products within a short period of time, the video creator earns a commission, which varies by product category.

There is no specific list of skills or qualifications required to promote goods on the Internet. But the quality that Amazon seems most interested in is having a large, distributed audience that can be pushed to its platform.

That interest has led to a livestream show featuring some unlikely shooters, including Anthony Williams, better known as Medical Medical, who recently came under scrutiny after some of his “miracle cures” became popular on Instagram, where he has 3.7 million followers. It might also explain how Alex and Alan Stokes, the internet-famous twin brothers who recently pleaded guilty to a false imprisonment misdemeanor after they pretended to rob a bank, found themselves on a recent Amazon LiveScheng product including a face steamer and a touch up. Toaster screen.

In its communication with publishers, Amazon stressed the importance of promoting their live sessions on third-party platforms.

Short shelf life and uncertain returns

Not every publisher Digiday spoke to for this story saw a problem with this kind of arrangement. What’s more worrying, those sources said, is that Amazon won’t make any guarantees to publishers about how much revenue Live Sessions might bring. A second source said Live discussed it with Amazon.

Publishers debating whether to start creating Amazon Live content have had to wrestle with another related issue: Content has a short shelf life. While previous live streams can be accessed on creator pages after they are published, there is little mechanism for promoting them within Amazon.

While publishers can deliver or distribute links to old streams after completion, Amazon appears to have learned that there is little long-term value in the live sessions themselves.

And that source said, “They even said, ‘There’s almost no money to be made after it’s done.'”

Stampede at the gold rush

But if this combination of audience search and uncertain revenue turned off most publishers, it resonated with enough indie creators, who Amazon began courting to join its influencer program.

Almost all of YouTube has been hired,” said one creator who distributes videos across YouTube and Amazon.

This recruitment was part of a separate set of growing pains. For most of the past year, Amazon has been trying to revive a program that places videos produced by publishers and creators about products on their corresponding pages within product pages.

Its compensation structure worked like Amazon Live’s system, and for many of the creators Amazon recruited, the upside and results were much better than one might expect from an ad revenue sharing program. For every thousand views, we were getting a lot,” said that first creator.

But after so many creators figured out how Amazon’s video software works, it was flooded with low-quality content that barely served the software’s purpose: auto-generated videos with still images, prank videos, and even videos showing the wrong products.

“People considered it a cash grab,” said a second creator. “These weren’t creative. These were just people who were messing with the system. You had people stealing each other’s videos and uploading duplicates.”

Some publishers got caught in the middle. The results were so poor that it affected their interest in Amazon Live, said an executive at one of the publishers participating in the program, which he said makes less than $1,000 a month from it. “If we had a more positive experience, we would play with it,” the source said.

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