Why Amazon used traditional media to ensure Prime Day 2017 is its biggest shopping event yet


By John McCarthy | Media editor

July 11, 2017 | 8 min read

Amazon Prime Day is here, a 30 hour sales event across 13 countries that entices shoppers to join the Prime family with the lure of sizeable discounts across hundreds of thousands of products.

This being the third year of the online shopping event, the retail giant hopes to maintain the momentum and frenzy it has whipped up in previous years and continue hitting home the message that the platform is the place to go for a bargain.

To partake in the purchase of discounted goods, shoppers must first join the Prime subscription - $99 per year. Shrewd consumers will make good use of the service's 30 day trial however.

A snippet from Amazon's latest Prime Day ad

A snippet from Amazon's latest Prime Day ad

Prime Day 2017 is set to be the biggest yet

Giving a sense of scale to the event, Mel Pittham, creative innovation director at the Bio Agency, said that Prime Day 2016 (10 July) boosted Amazon traffic by 36% - as a result - 90,000 TVs and thousands of Kindle Paperwhites, Fire TV Sticks and tablets were shifted.

"In just three hours, US customers had bought 18,048 pairs of headphones, while in the UK we bought 600 Trunki suitcases, all before breakfast. Amazon sold enough Philips Hue bulbs to replace every light in the Albert Hall daily for four and a half years," Pittham said

Prime Day differs from the likes of the pre-Christmas Black Friday, as it encourages people to shop for themselves. "This year’s Prime Day is set to be the biggest yet, it is also an opportunity for Amazon to promote other services."

She outlined that Amazon will be looking to the east to emulate Alibaba's highly productive Single's Day "which has the mindset and ethos that shopping is not just a transaction; in China, it is an event." a mentality that has made it the largest e-commerce shopping day in the world that last year raised $5.2bn in sales.

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The elephant in the room

Gary Reid, managing director EMEA and APAC at digital marketing agency, Forward3D, said that this year's Prime Day is expected to generate $525m in revenue but that its performance will not make or break the company.

"Much of the media’s focus, has rightly been on Amazon’s increasing dominance within the retail market. However, despite the inevitable headlines, Prime shouldn’t be the main focus for brands and agencies this week," he added following WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell’s comments on how Amazon is the ad industry's 'elephant in the room’.

He claimed that the company has been extending its reach as an advertising platform, through its self-service, Amazon Marketing Service (AMS), which offers brands targeted cost-per-click advertising and digital campaign management across Amazon’s sites. He concluded: "Whilst Prime Day may grab all the focus, it is AMS that points to the real opportunities for many brands and agencies in the future."

Getting the word out

On how Amazon is promoting its special day of commerce, Mark Jackson, managing director at media agency MC&C, said that Amazon had run a 16 second ad promoting a range of deals across tech and fashion products. "These seem to be the cornerstone of the campaign, with the ad originally appearing on YouTube ahead of being pushed across social channels, and Twitter. There were also "- perhaps too many according to some - promotions across TV, radio and OOH".

Jackson, added: "Harnessing more traditional media channels is a clear signal that Amazon is using this self-created shopping day as a vehicle to pull more and more shoppers into the Prime ecosystem.

The creative was very unique and far reaching, on its wider objective, Jackson claimed: "The tone of the Prime Day ad very much positions the service as being the go-to place for ‘everything you are into’, so it’s clear that the mass-market is Amazon’s target. It’s part of a broader trend among tech giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook - as they increasingly assert their dominance in the market there is a tendency to turn towards more traditional channels to achieve this."

Traditional media is driving Prime Day search

Tom Smith, head of biddable media at mporium outlines that Amazon had to work to generate the hype felt around in inaugural Prime Day, and it has done so with "a considerable investment in TV advertising".

Citing Google trends, he found that search for Prime Day is most popular this year. "And what's more, there is a clear and definable series of spikes, which in our experience of tying paid search to TV content seems to suggest the impact of the TV advertising campaign.

"Amazon has been savvy with their paid search around the day, ensuring that they are at the top of the Google search, but also using their search results description is helpful and acts as an additional branding tool," Smith added.

Digital commerce firm Salmon revealed findings looking at how vital Amazon makes up a large cross section of the retail infrastructure across the UK, US, Belgium and Netherlands. It detailed that 37% of all online spend goes through Amazon, adding that 53% of shoppers are more likely to buy from Prime than a retailer’s online store. Furthermore, 60% claimed that same day delivery should be offered by all online retailers

Keeping customers on Amazon

Hugh Fletcher, global head of consultancy and innovation at Salmon spoke about the position that retailers find themselves in by either attempting to compete with, or work with, the online retail giant: “Retailers need to consider a balanced strategy on how they compete or collaborate with Amazon. Amazon has seized the day. The whole Prime premise is built around providing a same-day or next-day delivery. Amazon has even created its own market peaks with its Amazon Prime Day.

"We call this 'proactive peak formation'. Its purpose is to encourage Prime membership and keep customers ordering exclusively through Amazon and away from other brands. With companies like Tesco launching their own one-hour delivery service, we’re seeing other retailers looking to halt Amazon’s dominance."

Ray Fowler, director at digital transformation consultancy Transform, echoed the importance of quick delivery: "It can’t be stressed enough how valuable same-day or next-day delivery is to most people. Consumer expectations are borderline unrealistic for delivery times in 2017, but Amazon are borderline unreal for their strong logistics and delivery abilities.

"Yet they need to sell on this point more. Amazon isn’t just about the ‘A to Z’ hidden in its logo, it’s about A to Z right now. To have so many services tied into a next-day delivery service is hyper-convenience, and pushing that message more could see Prime Day scale the heights of Singles Day."

Hinting that this is a growing market, 73% of consumers said they will increase their use of digital shopping channels in the future.

So maybe Prime Day is just a hint of what is to come from Amazon as it continues to convert the high street, bricks and mortar shoppers into loyal and returning customers.


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