Growth in Ad Sales, AWS Drive Amazon Profit Up 200 Percent

Amazon’s net sales for Q4 were $170 billion, a 14 percent increase year-over-year. For the full year 2023, net sales were up by 12 percent to $574.8 billion. “This Q4 was a record-breaking holiday shopping season and closed out a robust 2023 for Amazon,” CEO Andy Jassy said in the recent earnings release. The results included October Prime Day and holiday season shopping. Outstanding Q4 performers included ad sales, up 27 percent to $14 billion, and Amazon Web Services, which brought in $24.2 billion, growing 13 percent.”What we’re most pleased with is the continued invention and customer experience improvements across our businesses,” Jassy added.

Jassy cited increasingly regionalized U.S. fulfillment as speeding deliveries and lowering the cost to serve. The company reiterated “record-breaking Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping” with more than 1 billion items sold over 11 days.

Operating income soared 191 percent to $13.2 billion, versus $2.7 billion in Q4 2022. “Year-over-year operating margin has expanded for four consecutive quarters driven by fulfillment efficiencies, ongoing cost discipline across segments, and a continued mix shift to high-margin advertising and AWS revenue,” Wedbush analyst Scott Devitt said on MediaPost.

CNBC reports that based on quarterly results from Alphabet, Meta and Amazon, the digital advertising market appears to be recovering “after two years of relative malaise,” with improvements globally “and in every major region,” per citations from an Insider Intelligence report.

In addition to Amazon’s booming ad growth, “Meta’s fourth-quarter ad sales jumped 24 percent from a year earlier to $38.7 billion,” while “Alphabet, still the market leader, saw its Google ad business rise 11 percent to $65.5 billion, boosted by 16 percent growth at YouTube,” per CNBC.

Though the revenue will be kicking in for Q1 2024 earnings, as of this week “Amazon began showing ads on Prime Video content by default in major markets, unless users opt to pay extra ($2.99/month in the U.S.) to have an ad-free experience,” Variety points out.

Likewise, thought it made no appreciable contribution to Q4 earnings, Rufus, a GenAI shopping assistant that MediaPost says will “shake up how customers currently find their way to Amazon purchases” was introduced in a beta test during the reporting quarter.

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