Friday, January 19, 2018

Amazon Expects Advertising Revenue to Improve Profit Margin

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon Inc., recently took over the spot of "richest man in the world" from Bill Gates, the creator of Microsoft. To many, Bezos' wealth doesn't make much sense, because, for the past 20 years, Amazon has not brought in a profit. That may seem pretty cut and dry: profit means financial success. However, for Bezos, that's not exactly how it works. For many years, Bezos' financial strategy has been to choose business growth over profit, reinvesting any revenue into expanding Amazon. In that manner, Amazon's stock value has steadily gone up, even without paying any dividends to shareholders. According to an L.A. Times article by Spencer Soper and Mark Bergen, Amazon's latest shift, to focus on sources of advertising revenue, could help to push the company into profit territory.

Over the past few years, Amazon has been losing money in its e-commerce business but has been able to recoup those losses due to its profitable business of providing cloud services. However, the differences between gains and losses are tight: Amazon's average profit is only around 1%. Up until now, Amazon's advertising business has been pretty small, at $1.7 billion in revenue compared with Google's $35 or Facebook's $17.4 billion. Amazon has nowhere to go but up when it comes to advertising. It is likely that the growth will be among companies trying to get priority placement for their products on Amazon's website. That kind of business plan pivot is unlikely to have high costs and has huge potential for billions more in revenue.

Amazon is in a good place for advertisements. Often, on Google or Facebook, an advertisement appears that tries to push a user toward another site, where the user might purchase the product being advertised. The problem with that system is that users get annoyed by incessant advertisements when they aren't looking to buy anything. The difference for Amazon is that its users are already looking to buy something. Advertisements would be both helpful to the shopper, would benefit the advertiser, and would give Amazon more revenue. Everyone wins!

Food companies spend millions each year to put advertisements on television and in magazines to try to generate more interest in their products among potential customers. The same effect can be achieved on Amazon's website for far lower cost, with less work, simply by adding in suggested searches or sponsored search results. Of course, putting actual images and videos as advertisements can also help, but if someone is looking to buy a product, they're going to choose the one that seems to be at the best price. Through Amazon advertisements, companies can make their products more interesting to the average user. Perhaps one day, Amazon's advertisements could replace those on television entirely. Amazon does have its own video streaming capabilities, after all.

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