Might an ad-supported Kindle Fire be in the offing? Ad Age reports that Amazon has been soliciting ads to appear on the Fire’s welcome screen, according to an executive at an agency Amazon pitched. The ad packages would start at $600,000 and include both Kindle Fire and Kindle with Special Offers ads, going up to $1 million for additional ad perks.
The current Kindle Fire has no advertcising, but Amazon has been reported to have a new model of the tablet in the offing for July and may be looking to start the program then. An interesting note is that Amazon reportedly “hasn’t decided” whether it will put ads only on a new special-offers version of the Fire, or introduce them to already-existing devices.
As a result, the ad executives Ad Age spoke to had both declined to participate, since Amazon wasn’t even able to tell them how many devices would comprise the audience—and they were also concerned that their ads popping up on devices that didn’t have ads when people bought them could be a turn-off.
Of course, Amazon has proven remarkably savvy so far at getting people to accept ads on their devices, and indeed the ad-supported Kindles have been Amazon’s best-selling products ever. Special Offers coming to future Kindle Fires is practically a no-brainer. As for already-sold ones, I rather suspect that if Amazon did introduce advertising to pre-existing Fires it would be on an opt-in basis, perhaps offering a $30 (or whatever the price difference is) Amazon gift card in exchange for allowing the company to advertise to you—the reverse of the current system for de-advertising existing Kindles with Special Offers. The company hasn’t offered anything like this to people who bought originally-ad-free Kindles that I know of, but the Fire has been such a popular tablet, with so many more uses than the e-ink readers, that I can see how it might be tempting.
I suspect that if Amazon does it this way, and is able to demonstrate a ready audience, ad agencies won’t stay on the fence for long. And if it makes the Kindle Fire even cheaper, bringing tablets into reach of people who couldn’t afford them before, it could be as good a thing as the ads are for the e-ink readers.