Amazon restricts access to connected TV app data

Amazon, of course, has its own first-party ad network, where it can still control frequency

Amazon, of course, has its own first-party ad network, where it can still control frequency capping and ad targeting, and some advertisers see its new policies as another way to reinforce its growing advertising business.

The IP addresses of viewers on IMDb TV and Twitch are potentially valuable commodities, too, because they could provide a way to covertly develop consumer profiles that have a good chance of matching up with Amazon shoppers and Amazon Prime members. That’s the type of data that Amazon would like to have a strong hand controlling.

“Amazon is not going to want someone to pull down an IP address to map it back to an Amazon profile, to a piece of personal information, that would be huge breach of privacy,” says one major advertising agency executive, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Amazon declined to comment for this story but it pointed to its advertising policies that outline its developer and data rules. On Fire TV, which is the broader Amazon CTV software ecosystem, Amazon has had policies for years about limiting the exposure of IP addresses from third-party apps. Amazon encourages developers and media companies on Fire TV to use its Amazon Advertising ID as opposed to other data like IP addresses.

“Under our Appstore Advertising ID Policy, third-party apps that collect information about users’ behaviors in order to display interest-based ads must use the Amazon Advertising ID,” Amazon said. “No other identifier or tracking method (e.g., Android ID or IP address) may be used. Customers can reset their Advertising ID or use the interest-based ads setting on their device to manage their advertising preferences.”

The Amazon Advertising ID is a unique code for each viewer generated by Amazon Fire software.

“If you collect information about a user’s behavior to display interest-based ads, or to generate analytics, you must use the Advertising ID,” Amazon says in its policies.

Amazon’s steps are in line with the privacy movement taking hold in the internet advertising industry. Companies that have thrived through unfettered access to data, like being able to peek into people’s IP addresses to follow their web histories and serve targeted ads, are finding it more difficult to do business.

Amazon’s ad revenue reached $8 billion in the second quarter, growing 87% year over year. Connected TV is an increasingly important pillar in that ad business, as Amazon runs Fire TV, Prime Video, IMDb TV and Twitch. The Fire TV ecosystem is a complex one, where Amazon operates its own apps and distributes apps from major media companies. Amazon also has lucrative sports deals like one to exclusively stream Thursday Night Football starting in 2022. And just this month, Amazon’s TV portfolio expanded with the release of its first Fire TV set—so it became an original manufacturer of TVs and not just a software partner to other manufacturers.

The changes are considered a win for privacy, but they could also give big tech platforms even more of an advantage since they still have access to data that is now being denied to other players. “It would strengthen Amazon’s own walled garden,” says Nirish Parsad, practice lead, privacy, identity and martech at Tinuiti, a performance marketing agency.

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