Shell, Lexus and Jaguar Land Rover are among the brands that have experimented with using Amazon Prime Video as a distribution platform for long-form branded content – while generating revenue at the same time.

When it launched Prime Video Direct two years ago, Amazon’s idea was that the self-serve platform would allow production companies to upload videos, with the e-commerce business then paying royalties on a per-hour-streamed basis.

Brands now see opportunities in this – not least in the scale that Amazon offers, according to Spiros Fotinos, global head of brand management and marketing at Lexus, which recently uploaded an hour-long documentary on craftspeople in Japan seeking to attain ‘Takumi’ (master artisan) status.

“We were looking at distribution and as we operate in many markets, we needed to make sure we could get it across all of them,” he told the Drum.

“And when we were looking at what potential options we had on the table, after assessing the various options Amazon Prime was the place to go to give us the kind of reach and audience we were looking for.”

Discoverability is an issue, however, and Lexus has had to rely on word of mouth as much as anything else since it’s not able to pay to promote it. Nor does Amazon supply much information on who’s watching.

Alongside these limitations, brands also need to ensure the quality of what they’re putting out matches other content on the site – it needs to be more than an extended sales pitch.

“Amazon … needs to create customer value and it expects quality videos,” said Matt Bamford-Bowes, a strategist at The&Partnership.

“I don't think it's appropriate for every brand,” he added. “[Advertisers] have one shot at this sort of thing to gain credibility. If a platform or consumer knows something is an hour-long advert, they will not watch again.”

The&Partnership managed the deal between Lexus and Amazon for the Takumi documentary and is still evaluating whether it has been successful.

Sourced from The Drum; additional content by WARC staff