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Sep 22

Ads on Kindle: Sell Me a Story


In: Strategy Insights

As a self-proclaimed Kindle addict, I was on the verge of hysteria when I heard about the “Kindle with Special Offers,” a new, cheaper version of the famed e-reader that displays advertisements. Horror struck me as I thought through the effects on the user experience.

Will I be reading The Help, about to find out the “God Awful” that Minnie did to Miss Hilly when all of a sudden an ad pops up for Crest Toothpaste? Ironic? Yes. But that is not the time nor the place where I want to be interrupted with an ad.

Will I be engulfed in the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel only to be blasted with HBO ads about True Blood? Don’t get me wrong, I sport my Team Eric t-shirt with pride, but I'm interested in reading about the magical town of Bon Temps, not watching it. And heaven forbid I go to “turn” the page while reading The Hunger Games and be mentally ripped out of the arena for a department store’s back to school ad!

After envisioning myself chasing down the Amazon execs, bow and arrow in hand, I decided to do some research and find out exactly what impact these new ad displaying Kindles will have on my fellow Kindle users. Come to find out I have a wild imagination. (Note to self: Read less fiction.) These ads are NOT shown during the reading experience. Ads are only displayed in two places: as a full-size screensaver when the device is in sleep mode, and as a smaller display ad on the home screen.

These new ads add a twist to the original screensaver which consisted of sketches of famous authors such as Jane Austen and Mark Twain that look as though they originated around the time George Washington chopped down that cherry tree. For the “Kindle with Special Offers” user, these outdated (or dare I say, lame) sketches are replaced with ads from the likes of Buick, Olay, Visa and Chase.

In keeping with the trend of increasing user-ad relevance by giving users more control over the ads they see, ad preferences can be managed on Kindle.com. Amazon also launched a free Kindle app (and soon to come website), AdMash, that allows users to vote on their preferred ad layouts.

If you ask me, the new screensaver ads are a refreshing change. And who can argue with the new price point of $114, which is $25 dollars less than the standard model. So for the time being I will put away my bow and arrow and give this new device two thumbs up. I’m sure the Amazon execs will be relieved, not to mention the many brands that now have a new place to advertise without incurring the wrath of the e-reader faithful.


UNION is a full-service digital agency. We create experiences that help brands thrive. We believe to be relevant in today’s marketplace, brands must lead with a digital-first philosophy. We craft engaging digital experiences and integrated campaigns that are built on strategy and driven by data. At the heart of what we do is help brands create meaningful and enduring relationships with highly connected consumers.

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