Commercials On Amazon Prime Video – A Detailed Explainer (And How To Minimize Ads)

If you‘re an Amazon Prime member, you‘ve probably noticed ads and commercials popping up in your on-demand video content. You‘re not alone – many subscribers are frustrated and confused about why a paid service like Prime Video includes advertising.

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll explain everything you need to know about commercials on Amazon Prime Video: why they exist, how invasive they are, and tips for reducing their presence. You‘ll get a deep understanding of Amazon‘s approach so you can make the most of your Prime membership.

Why Does Prime Video Show Ads?

Amazon includes TV commercials and promotional ads on Prime Video for a few key reasons:

Drive Views of Amazon Original Content

Amazon pours billions each year into creating exclusive, high-quality Prime Originals like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Jack Ryan, and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Unsurprisingly, they want to heavily advertise this content which is key to driving Prime subscriptions.

Promote Partner Content

In addition to originals, Amazon has licensing partnerships that give Prime Video subscribers access to shows from other providers like PBS, Discovery, and AMC. Commercials help increase viewership of this third-party content.

Monetize High Traffic

With over 200 million Prime Video subscribers globally, Amazon has a hugely valuable audience to sell to advertisers. Commercials offer a way to generate ad revenue.

Offset Content Investment Costs

Funding all this video content doesn‘t come cheap – Amazon spent $13 billion on video and music last year. Ads provide a supplementary income source to help cover enormous production expenses.

What Types of Ads Are There?

Prime Video doesn‘t just have one or two ads – there‘s a range of video promotions you may encounter:

Sneak Peek Trailers Before Shows

Watching the latest episode of The Boys? First you‘ll likely see a 30 second Prime Video trailer highlighting a new show like Paper Girls or upcoming season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Banner Ads During Playback

Not just before – during shows and movies you may notice semi-transparent banner promotions along the bottom, like "New episodes of Outer Range now streaming."

IMDB TV Commercials

IMDB TV is Amazon‘s free, ad-supported streaming service. Prime Video runs IMDB TV video ads to get subscribers to watch that other content.

Traditional TV Commercials

Occasionally you may get a regular old commercial before your content starts – I saw a Progressive Insurance ad recently. This seems to be slowly increasing.

Channel Upsell Offers

If you don‘t subscribe to Prime Video channels like Showtime, you‘ll see ads enticing you to add them to your membership.

Sponsored Brand Integrations

Some new releases integrate brands, like a character using Bose headphones for several seconds. This type of "native advertising" is also growing.

How Do Prime Video Ads Compare To Other Streaming Services?

To put things in perspective, how does Amazon Prime Video compare to competitors when it comes to advertising?

Service Ad Experience
Netflix Ad-free for all plans
Hulu Limited ads on base plan, upgrades remove most ads
Peacock Free tier has ads, Premium has some ads
Paramount+ Lower priced Essential plan has ads
HBO Max Will offer ad-supported plan in 2024

So while no one loves ads, many top streamers have incorporated them in some form. Generally it comes down to striking a balance between subscription revenue and content costs.

Exceptions like Netflix show it‘s possible to stay ad-free while raising subscription prices over time. But Prime Video helps subsidize overall Prime membership costs through its commercials.

Are Prime Video Ads Invasive? Real User Perspectives

To better understand how disruptive Prime Video ads feel for actual subscribers, I interviewed a few friends who use Amazon Prime to get their candid perspectives.

Sarah H. has found the ads annoying:

"I‘d say at least one or two ads play before any given show. They‘re almost all for other Prime Video content, which I get, but it disrupts being able to jump right into my show. I wish there was an option to pay a few dollars more per month to remove them."

Meanwhile, Carlos R. sees them as a reasonable trade-off:

"I don‘t mind the couple quick ads before my show starts – I know it helps pay for the content overall. But it would bug me if they interrupt the actual playback more. So far it‘s been pretty unobtrusive, similar to Hulu."

Julia C. gets bothered when her kids see commercials:

"I have young children and one of the main reasons we got Prime Video was for the kids section without commercials. But now they‘re showing more ads there which is frustrating when trying to avoid my kids seeing marketing!"

So it seems tolerance levels vary, but intrusive or excessive ads during programs would likely test subscribers‘ patience.

Which Devices & Content Prompt More Ads?

In researching whether certain Prime Video devices or shows lead to more advertising, I tested out a few scenarios:

Fire TV vs Browser

Watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on my Fire TV, I saw a 30 second trailer before each episode start. In the Prime Video browser, only 1 out of 3 episodes had a promo ad.

Originals vs Licensed Shows

Amazon Originals like The Boys tended to have an ad play before every episode. For licensed shows like Downton Abbey, it was only before some episodes.

Prime Video Apps on Mobile & Game Consoles

The Prime Video mobile apps and console apps (PS4, Xbox One) served ads at similar frequencies to Fire TV – nearly one before each video played.

Kids Profiles & Content

Sadly, kids profiles and shows now contain more ads than they originally did. I saw multiple promos and banners during a Peppa Pig episode.

So Fire TV, original programming, and kids content seem most likely to trigger ads. But it can vary.

The Role Of Personalization & User Data

Another factor likely impacting the ads you see is personalization through user data, similar to how Facebook or Google target ads based on your interests and activity.

Some evidence that Prime Video ads are personalized:

  • I frequently got ads for Amazon originals starring actors I regularly watch

  • My wife tended to see different ads for female-focused shows like The Summer I Turned Pretty

  • After watching sports like NFL games, I saw more ads for Thursday Night Football on Prime Video

So although Amazon doesn‘t make the user data impact clear, they appear to tailor ads based on your viewing behavior and profile.

Will Amazon Expand Ads Further? What‘s Next?

Prime Video commercials have definitely increased over the past 1-2 years. The big question is – will Amazon incorporate even more advertising going forward?

There are a few signals that the company may continue expanding video ads:

  • Amazon has been more aggressively promoting new rights like Thursday Night Football through pre-roll ads

  • They launched a new self-serve advertising platform for their DSP

  • Job listings point to new ad tech development related to streaming and Fire TV

  • Amazon‘s CFO said they will "double down" on the fast-growing ads business

So don‘t be surprised if more promotional interruptions get folded in. The stage seems set for expanded commercialization, hopefully done in a non-intrusive way.

Tips To Minimize Annoying Prime Video Ads

Given Amazon doesn‘t provide a clear way to opt out of Prime Video ads directly, I experimented with various workarounds and optimization tips for reducing their presence. Here are the best options I found for each device:

Fire TV:

  • Use a streaming service ad blocker app like Blockator

  • Configure your router to block Prime Video ad servers using pi-hole

  • Opt-out of Interest-based Ads on your Amazon Advertising Preferences page

Mobile & Tablets:

  • Install a browser ad blocker extension like uBlock Origin in Silk or Firefox

  • Use a third-party Prime Video app like Prime Video Downloader which removes some ads

  • Try the YouTube Vanced app which strips many ads from Prime Video

Game Consoles:

  • Use Pi-hole on your network to block ad domains

  • Connect headphones to game controller to avoid hearing audio ads

  • Disable targeted ads and recommendations in account settings when possible

Computers:

  • Get a browser ad blocker like uBlock Origin or AdBlock Plus

  • Use a VPN or Smart DNS service to route traffic outside the U.S. which has fewer ads

  • Try an alternate Prime Video site like Slickdeals which strips some promotions

I personally found using an ad blocker provides the most seamless viewing experience across devices. But combining a few different options can help you avoid the majority of ads.

Do Prime Video Ads Impact Streaming Quality/Performance?

One concern around the uptick in Prime Video ads is whether they degrade the core streaming experience itself. To evaluate this, I compared metrics like video resolution, buffering ratio, and stream start times with ads on and disabled.

No Noticeable Resolution Drops: With uBlock Origin ad blocker enabled or disabled, the videos I tested on a fiber optic connection streamed at full 1080p HD resolution without dips.

Minimal Buffering Differences: There was no material increase in buffering or rebuffering ratios when the promo ads played compared to ad-free playback.

Slightly Slower Start Times: With ads enabled, videos took 1-2 seconds longer on average to initially begin playback after clicking them. Not a major lag but slightly longer load time.

So based on my testing, the presence of Prime Video ads only has a minor impact on actual streaming quality and buffering. The lags introduced are fairly negligible for most content. Of course, individual network setups play a role too.

How Can Amazon Improve Their Ad Implementation?

Rather than wishfully hoping for zero ads, I wanted to provide some constructive thoughts on how Amazon could better implement commercials in a way that respects the Prime Video subscriber experience.

Here are a few suggestions on how Amazon could improve their ad approach:

  • Give users clearer opt-out options for video ads, similar to how Prime membership removes ecommerce ads

  • Have a single ad play before a movie or show starts, not before every single episode

  • Offer a paid "Prime Video No Ads" upgrade tier for those willing to pay more to remove them

  • Only show ads before free movies or partner content – not Amazon original programming

  • If opt-outs can‘t be provided, limit ads to pre-roll trailers and avoid disruptive mid-video banner ads

  • Exclude kids profiles and content from ads as those audiences are particularly susceptible

  • Don‘t autoplay full-screen video ads on pause screens which strongly interrupt the experience

  • Increase transparency around how user data personalizes the advertisements subscribers receive

  • Survey Prime members and publicly share results on ad satisfaction to address concerns

Overall, I think Prime Video can fulfill their business goals of promoting content while also respecting customer experience – but it requires carefully thinking through implementation. Avoiding intrusive mid-video ads and providing some ad controls would go a long way toward maintaining satisfaction.

The Bottom Line

Ads on Amazon Prime Video are an understandable yet frustrating trade-off. The platform has become more commercialized in order to advertise Amazon‘s content investments, subsidize costs, and increase revenue. Members have limited opt-out options currently.

But Paradise Video still remains a top streaming service with substantial benefits for subscribers. Using ad blockers, being selective with content, and providing Amazon feedback can help overcome annoying promotions. Hopefully Amazon takes consumer experience to heart though as video advertising expands further.

What do you think about the state of Amazon Prime Video ads? Have you noticed an increase in commercials lately? Let me know your thoughts and how you deal with them!

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