Best of the week: Publishers are embracing Amazon

This week, our top stories covered magazine publishers’ relationship with Amazon, consumer trust in advertising and life as a new mother at an ad agency. As always, a full list of these articles appears at the bottom.

Amazon is getting along with publishers, for now
Amazon’s relationship with magazine publishers goes back years, with it handling their print and digital magazine sales and serving as a retail partner that helps publishers turn their editorial content into commerce. This bond started deepening two years ago when the e-commerce giant began selling its voice-activated home assistant, Echo, and opened the device to publishers to create content for it.

Since then, publishers have tried to figure out how to use Echo and other voice-activated devices to reach audiences. So far, publishers describe their relationship with Amazon as positive, and the two parties’ interests seem aligned.

Possible reasons for this:

  • Before Echo, Amazon just tried to get publishers to use its existing tools. For Echo to succeed, it benefits Amazon to have a good working relationship with publishers.
  • Media content has been integral to the Echo experience from the start.
  • Amazon may see publishers as collaborators in learning what content users want from voice-activated assistants and in creating a good Echo user experience.

“In general, they’re a really good partner,” said Rohit Agarwal, vp of digital products at CNN, which started developing Echo skills early on. “We like that when we share concerns or needs, they’re very responsive.”

Like with any relationship, there are speed bumps to navigate. Monetization is one of them. Publishers’ monetization opportunities for Alexa are limited at the moment, with Amazon imposing advertising restrictions on Alexa devices.

“Where people are right now is trying to feel out what Amazon will allow,” said Pat Higbie, the founder of Alexa skill builder Xappmedia.

Consumers associate ads with fake news
Whether on or off Alexa devices, publishers (and brands) should proceed cautiously when it comes to ads. Rakuten Marketing found in a survey of 2,500 respondents that 83 percent of people perceive online advertising as a disruptive experience, with the majority of them associating ads with fake news.

The upside: 70 percent of people in the same study said that when advertising aligns with an individual’s interests, it’s a valuable part of the customer journey online.

‘An unfair success metric’ for parents in advertising
Working in advertising often involves long hours and unpredictable demands. This makes it difficult for new parents in the industry to sustain jobs. For the latest edition of our Confessions series, in which we grant anonymity for honesty, a new mother at an agency revealed what it’s like to return to work after having a baby. Here’s an excerpt:

“There are managers who applaud subordinates for responding to emails late at night. A parent isn’t gonna play that game. They’re not going to sit around at their computer just so they have face time and look like they’re here. Mothers are scared of that system that applauds people sitting at desks till God knows when who respond to emails at midnight. It’s an unfair success metric.”

Interesting takes elsewhere:

This week’s top Digiday stories:

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